Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews We listen to the lousy records so you won't have to.

Our Favorite Pop Artists

What we attempt to do here is summarize our reviews of each pop artist with a composite rating. The artists are listed in order by their composite scores. Because it's not really fair to make comparisons among artists from different musical eras, we've created four separate lists that cover different intervals of time:

1960 - 1966

1967 - 1971

1972 - 1978

1979 - present

The composite rating system works in a pretty simple way: first we converted all the ratings given in an artist's review page into numbers ( = 3.5, etc.). Then we subtracted 2.5 points from each rating, figuring that artists should be penalized for making lousy records. Then finally we summed up all the scores.

Why this makes sense:

There are three obvious, simple alternatives. First, you could just count the number of records with, say, four stars or more. Second, you could just add up all the ratings. Third, you could compute the average rating across all of an artist's records.

The present system has advantages over just counting "good" records:

and over adding up ratings:

and over averaging the ratings:

Some final notes. First, we're only covering pop artists here, not jazz, classical, country, or Latin artists; this is only because we don't know as much about those genres. By "pop," though, we do mean funk, hip hop, and R & B in addition to the usual rock 'n' roll.

Second, we know we're missing a lot of artists, and we're also missing a lot of records. This could make our ratings unreliable, and we're the first to admit it; but we do think our coverage is at least pretty good for the 60s.

Finally, it's very important to keep in mind that these are just subjective ratings. Just because we say Innervisions is the greatest thing since apple pie doesn't mean you're going to like it; similarly, just because we say Bob Dylan was The Greatest Artist Of The Early 60s doesn't mean you're going to like him either.

The ranking pages were written by John Alroy, although many of the reviews that went into the analysis were done by David Wilson.

Jeez, stats are boring.

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