Billboard Dregs: Why?

Josh Groban, the top selling artist in the nation this week. What's going on?

A recent look at the Billboard Top 10 was a sobering experience. I know not to expect much but this was far worse than I thought things could ever get. From the top: Josh Groban, the Eagles, Alicia Keys, "Now 26," Garth Brooks, "High School Musical 2," "Hannah Montana 2," Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Mannheim Steamroller.

Wow. (And please don't bombard us why angry comments, Josh Groban fans. Local music blog The Rockist Society seems to be the place to go for that.)

There are many conclusions that one can draw by looking at that list. But what struck me most was that every one of those albums falls into at least one of three categories: adult-alternative, country and adolescent pop. Why are fans of these genres the ones buying albums? Perhaps it's just a seasonal thing (that's the only way to explain Mannheim Steamroller, of course) and folks just grab what they see on the aisle displays at Walmart as stocking stuffers. Perhaps it's because the recent new release schedule has been devoid of any big name releases. (I managed to get a review of the new Six Organs of Admittance album into the paper a few weeks ago, for crying out loud!)

But maybe illegal (and legal) downloading has a lot to do with it? If we're going to play stereotypes for a second, what segments of the population wouldn't be so quick to figure out how to search around the Internet for music? Old folks, rural residents and elementary school kids would probably be near the top of the list, right? Or maybe it's just that those same folks are actually going by a moral code (and passing that down to their children). Are middle-of-the-road adults and country fans less willing to break the law?

What are your thoughts on why the Billboard charts are so dismal? Bad taste? Bad timing? Bad technology? Something else entirely?

By David Malitz |  December 10, 2007; 2:27 PM ET Charts
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There more good stuff out there than bad stuff, which means the dreck (but popular none the less) sells more units than the wider variety of better stuff and rises to the top of the sales-based charts.

Posted by: T. Carter | December 10, 2007 2:47 PM

Is Alicia Keys really "adolescent pop"? I guess you could call her adult-alternative.

Posted by: Lindemann | December 10, 2007 3:34 PM

The good stuff rarely gets played on commercial radio, so it is hard to generate sales for it.

Posted by: CJB | December 10, 2007 3:44 PM

Those are also three of the largest consumer demographics.

...jus' saying.

Posted by: sjf | December 10, 2007 3:59 PM

You don't see a lot of country on the most popular filesharing sites. Almost everything else though.

Posted by: 20782 | December 10, 2007 4:12 PM

Only douchebags pay for music.
the defense rests.

Posted by: Ben W. | December 10, 2007 4:21 PM

Adolecents certainly download a ton, but then they go out and buy it to. It helps that there just aren't that many groups doign that kind of music. I don't ever see any kind of traveling festival of adolecent pop acts. You couldn't fill out the day.

Posted by: EricS | December 10, 2007 5:10 PM

i don't really mind if the best music flies a bit under the radar... it means i can go see the shows with out a bunch of toolies... like for example Ben W.

Posted by: greg | December 11, 2007 2:12 AM

who cares about this crap??? Give me a post about the Zeppelin reunion!!!!

Posted by: around | December 11, 2007 8:35 AM

So the Billboard charts don't even take legal downloads into account? Just sales of the physical CDs?

Posted by: shf | December 11, 2007 11:29 AM

Maybe there is some money to be made giving classes through the Smithsonian or some other venue on 'how to get music cheap.'

Posted by: Todd | December 11, 2007 3:09 PM

Good question!


I don't care!

(Okay, look--not including legal downloads is kind of stupid, don't you think? As for WHY, WHY, WHY those three groups? I have teenagers and they just love to spend money. Period. iTunes, the cool CD store downtown--it's all the same fun for them. I'm so damn old, I'm still listening to stuff on vinyl, cassettes, CDs and mp3's. Buying more crap doesn't seem like a priority. Unless it's a really good Christmas album, or something like a sweet comp like "Carolina Funk - Funk 45s from the Atlantic Coast" which I got recently as a gift.)

Hey, thanks for asking.

Posted by: tony the pitiful copywriter | December 12, 2007 3:55 PM

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