Sunday, May 15, 2005

Do we need sunglasses?

Five years ago, the Rambling Canuck and I (along with the help of music writers across the country) set out to survey the current pop music landscape. We called it, "Future's So Bright: 20 Musicians Who Hold The Next Generation Of Pop Music In Their Hands."

This was less about who would sell more music, and more about the influence these artists would have going forward.

Here's how the list looked when it was published on June 6, 2000.
20. Richard Buckner
19. e [The Eels]
18. Fiona Apple
17. Martin Sexton
16. Wil-Dog [Ozomalti]
15. Rufus Wainwright
14. Stuart Murdoch [Belle & Sebastian]
13. Tricky
12. Will Oldham [Palace ... ]
11. Lauryn Hill [Fugees]
10. Billy Corgan [Smashing Pumpkins]
9. Richard D. James [Aphex Twins]
8. Mos Def
7. Ben Harper
6. Jeff Tweedy [Wilco]
5. P.J. Harvey
4. Ani DiFranco
3. Thom Yorke [Radiohead]
2. Beth Orton
1. Beck
**We limited ourselves to musicmakers (people, not bands) who hadn't recorded extensively prior to 1990.

Here we are five years into our decade, so how did we do? Here's our 20 ranked by today's barometer of influence: # of Google search returns.

To give this some context, Bob Dylan's name returns 5,320,000 results. Another lesser known, but talented troubadour Lio Gnaulati returns 8 results.

20. Jeff Tweedy [Wilco] 143,000
19. Thom Yorke [Radiohead] 177,000
18. Stuart Murdoch [Belle & Sebastian]219,000
17. Billy Corgan [Smashing Pumpkins] 363,000
16. Beth Orton 454,000
15. Richard Buckner 566,000
14. Mark Oliver Everett aka e [The Eels] 704,00
13. Fiona Apple 725,000
12. Lauryn Hill [Fugees] 782,000
11. Martin Sexton 815,000
10. Rufus Wainwright 872,000
9. Ani DiFranco 881,000
8. Mos Def 1,250,000
7. P.J. Harvey 1,390,000
6. Wil-Dog [Ozomalti]1,600,000
5. Will Oldham [Palace ... ] 3,140,000
4. Ben Harper 3,150,000
3. Tricky 9,650,000
2. Beck 15,500,000
1. Richard D. James [Aphex Twin] 33,400,000

After running the numbers, I now realize that Google might not be the end-all-be-all for tracking influence. Tweedy is Wilco, and hence he deserves the result of both names. But on another hand, the Apex Twin has folks like Univ. of Minnesota Aerospace & Mechanics Professor Richard D. James to thank for his No. 1 placement.

Here's to continuing the debate with new names like Ray LaMontagne, Mary Gauthier and Danko Jones.


At 9:23 AM, Blogger CHW said...

Brilliant! I completely forgot about this. I think our picks held up pretty nicely, no?

At 10:31 AM, Blogger princessmalin said...

Aside from the fact that you clearly should have used Yahoo! for search comparisons, this is completely fabulous.


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