The Decade According to Billboard






Billboard Charts are calculated using custom formulas collecting sales, streaming and radio play.


Most Popular Artist of the Decade: Eminem

Most Popular Song of the Decade: We Belong Together by Mariah Carey

Most Popular Album of the Decade: No Strings Attached by N’SYNC

Most Popular Group of the Decade: Nickelback

There are plenty of comments to be made regarding this. First of all, Billboard is obviously not capturing sales data from music downloads properly. Maybe Eminem sold the most CDs, but I’d venture to say that other artists sold more music overall. Also, Mariah Carey should not be on this list. Her popularity peaked in the early 90’s! That can’t possibly be the #1 song of the decade. Again, CD sales vs. downloads may be a factor here. N’SYNC… okay maybe their album sold the most copies of any this decade. The boy-band marketing machine has not be replicated so far. As for Nickelback being the most popular group of the decade? I’ve said way too much about them already.

This sort of thing makes me sad for the state of music today. Musicians are deemed popular and then MADE popular. American Idol is probably the biggest example of this today. AI tours the country, selects a number of “singers” based on the opinion of a few judges (who’s judgement depends as much on looks and stage presence as on talent), uses the performers to score ratings and ad revenue by picking or writing songs for them to sing, then signing them to prohibitive record deals with their own production company and finally letting viewers choose who will be “popular”. Is this how we really do things now? Whatever happened to musicians crafting their own art and finding an outlet for it?

I think the next decade in music will see a shift away from corporate machinery to a more DIY music distribution model. More and more big name bands are breaking it off with labels to make and release their music on their own. Technology has evolved to a place where anyone can record a studio record in their bedroom, build a website to showcase it and then give it away or sell it to their audience online. This model leaves no room for any other hangers-on to give their opinion about the music (or wardrobe) of the artist and therefore has the ability to produce a purer artistic expression than a label ever could. Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album is the prototypical example of this. They recorded the album how they wanted and the label said “change it or you’re dropped”. Wilco refused, were dropped, dispersed the album online, won huge praise from fans and were finally signed to new label who released YHF to the waiting masses. Wilco is now one of the biggest bands around. Recently, UK juggernaut band Radiohead parted ways with their label, recorded an album on their own and released it on their own website for free with a digital “tip jar” available. The experiment was a wild success, shaking the CD industry and its boosters to the core.

I’m currently working on my list of my favorite records of 2009. As I’m going over my notes, I don’t see very many bands that appear on Billboard’s charts. I see bands and musicians who let their art breathe. They craft something that speaks about who they are as people, not about what their bosses think people want to hear. Their buzz is based on demonstrated skill, not popularity contests. Hopefully, the next decade will give these artists their due praise.

Check back in the next couple of weeks for my list!

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3 thoughts on “The Decade According to Billboard

  1. I may be wrong about this, but I think Billboard's current system gives more weight to airplay than to sales. Take a look at how the radio industry has changed over the past decade, and it's pretty easy to see how that would add up. More and more stations are owned by conglomerates, with very little freedom granted to local markets to choose their own playlists. As you probably know, the same conglomerates also handle promotion of live acts and have exclusive booking rights for certain venues. In some markets, it may be virtually impossible to book a show at a large enough venue without being affiliated with one of these conglomerates. Furthermore, advertisers (the reason commercial radio exists) have struggled unsuccessfully to pinpoint just what the lucrative 25-50 year old target demographic wants to hear. Even in our local radio market there has been high turnover of formats on a number of stations. Jack FM has lasted far longer than many of its recent predecessors on the 104.1 frequency by defaulting back to…what else? Mainstream pop! Meanwhile, pop music stations have remained a stable means of reaching the teen to early 20s demographic. And there you have it: the most "popular" artists of the decade! As long as we don't confuse "popular" with "best", I don't think it's so bad. Those who care now have the tools & kick-in-the-pants to forage for more interesting music. Sorry for writing so much!-Gwen

  2. Good points. So a group of people chooses a band to make popular, buys them songs to play, buys them radioplay of said songs, finances a tour, books venues (in some cases even sells the tickets for them), etc, etc. Reminds me of the Jimmy Eat World song "Your New Aesthetic":we're lowering the standard in a process selective the formula is too thin but it takes more than one person so everyone jump on i'll miss you when you're just like them imitate and water down selection breathes on its own before the crash i'll write it out: selection breathes on its own make them open the request line and let selection kill the old take back the radio i remember back then thinking easy comes but doesn't stay, what comes easy never stays but the politics need means and business never leaves you better sing now while you can imitate and water down selection breathes on its own til we crash i'll write it out selection breathes on its own make them open the request line and let selection kill the old take back the radio sing while we can, while we can imitate and water down selection breathes on its own til we crash i'll write it out selection breathes on its own make them open the request line and let selection kill the old turn off the radio but it takes more than one person so everyone jump on i'll miss you when you're just like them

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