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:
- it uses all the information provided by the original ratings instead of arbitrarily dichotomizing between "good" and "bad," reining in solid but unexceptional artists (the Kinks, Traffic);
- it allows rating artists who never made a great record - they can get negative or zero scores (the Nice);
and over averaging the ratings:
- it doesn't give positive credit for pumping out a lot of bad records (the Beach Boys);
- it doesn't fail to give credit for making a lot records that we just didn't review - instead, it implicitly assumes that all those records were about average (Frank Zappa);
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.
- it takes productivity into account, not just consistency - this is very important (the Stones);
- it allows a long-lived artist who made a couple great records and a lot of mediocre ones to still score pretty highly, instead of getting dragged down by the garbage (the Beach Boys).
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.