Justin Bieber And His Musical Accomplishments

Justin Bieber Purpose Tour

Justin Bieber And His Musical Accomplishments

Justin Bieber launches his “Purpose World Tour” on March 9, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  The singer has already routed 58 concerts in North America.  The trek culminates July 19 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The tour starts just eight days after Justin Bieber’s 22nd birthday.

Amazingly, he’s been the most famous pop singer for the past five years; he’s been the one singer everyone can name.

Due to the current nature of celebrity, one’s fame can far outstrip one’s accomplishments.  Much of Bieber’s fame comes from things he says and does away from the microphone.

What exactly has Bieber accomplished?  Is he nothing more than a “Kardashian” with a recording contract?

Actually, Bieber has achieved a lot—a whole bunch.  That would be true for an artist of any age but it’s especially true for a pop singer that’s just 21.

Below, Musicology-101 looks at Justin Bieber’s musical accomplishments.  After perusing our list, you’ll view Bieber more as a musician and less as a tabloid headline.

Four For Four
Justin Bieber has released four studio albums…

…My World 2.0 (2010)
…Under The Mistletoe (2011)
…Believe (2012)
…Purpose (2015)

All four LPs debuted at number one.  That’s quite an accomplishment.  It’s also a feat that Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Usher weren’t able to do.

Six Number One Albums
Besides the four aforementioned number one platters, Bieber also saw two of his remix albums top the charts.

Never Say Never: The Remixes went to number one in February of 2014.  Believe Acoustic did the same in January of 2013.

In total, Bieber has six number one albums to his credit.  That’s more number one albums than Bob Dylan, Aerosmith, The Who, or Bon Jovi ever achieved.

Bieber’s first three studio albums have all been certified platinum.  His latest offering, Purpose, is well on its way to the million units sold plateau.

Purpose sold 649,000 “equivalent album units” in its first week on the streets.  That’s the best sales week of Bieber’s career.

In other words…

…the demise of “Bieber Fever” has been greatly exaggerated.

A Single Number One “Single”
One of the areas where Justin Bieber has not performed like you’d expect the most famous pop singer in world to perform is number one singles.

Bieber has placed only one single on top of the Billboard Hot 100.  That lone single is “What Do You Mean” released Aug. 28, 2015.

Bieber does have 14 Top 20 singles and 8 Top 10 singles.  He’s been a part of five other Top 20 singles either as a featured artist or via promotional singles.

What’s really impressive is in his young career, Justin Bieber has already charted 63 singles on the Hot 100—that includes singles as a feature artist and promotional singles (including the cringe worthy “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”).

To put that 63 in perspective, The Beatles landed 71 singles on the Hot 100.

Big Time Debut
One of the songs you’ll probably hear during the upcoming Justin Bieber tour is “One Time.”  That’s the artist’s debut single.

“One Time” peaked at #17 on Billboard’s Hot 100.  It went on to be certified 5x Platinum.

That’s a better debut than The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Adele, or Taylor Swift had.

Road Warrior
Bieber opens hi 2016 Purpose World Tour in Seattle on 3/9/16 at Key Arena. And if you’re going to see Justin Bieber in cities like Boston, don’t think you’re going to see some lightweight performer or even a hack.  Biebs is no stranger to the live stage.

Already, the singer has made nearly 300 tour stops and grossed more than $53 million.  That’s a lot of concert tickets for a seasoned performer much less one that’s still too young to rent a car.

The “Purpose World Tour” is Bieber’s third major trek.  His first major outing was the “My World Tour” which began in 2010.  His second was the “Believe Tour” launched in 2012.

Get this…

…Bieber has performed on every continent but Antarctica.

The Big Rooms
Bieber has not only played a bunch of shows, but he has done so at the world’s biggest venues.

We’ve already mentioned that he’s performing at Madison Square Garden, also during his upcoming tour Justin Bieber will be at Staples Center in Los Angeles, American Airlines Center in Dallas, the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

In past tours, Bieber has performed London’s O2 Arena, Dubai’s The Sevens Stadium, and the Foro Sol in Mexico City.

Number One Artist
For the first time in his career, Justin Bieber topped Billboard’s Artist 100 chart (for the week ending Nov. 28, 2015).  That’s a list Billboard created in July of 2014 that measures an artist’s sales, airplay, and social media fan interaction.

Since its inception, the chart has been dominated by Taylor Swift (31 total weeks), The Weeknd (8 weeks), and country artists (5 weeks).

Landing on the top of the Artist 100 isn’t Bieber’s greatest accomplishment but it’ certainly another feather in his cap.

Also, it says that more than five years into his career, the pop singer is showing no signs of slowing down.

5 Seconds Of Summer And The Science Of Music


5 Seconds Of Summer And The Science Of Music

I don’t like NBC’s TODAY show, but much to my chagrin, it’s the morning news show of record and always on my cable box when I wake up (I fall asleep watching Fallon).

So, it’s not uncommon that I watch the TODAY show, if only a few minutes.

On the morning of Oct. 28, me and my cup of coffee sat down and turned on the television.  Needless to say, the TODAY show was on.

My timing couldn’t have been better (or worse).  The Australian heartthrobs, 5 Seconds of Summer, were just about to perform their single, “She’s Kinda Hot.” 

When I heard the title of their song I snickered and almost spilled my cup of Joe.

“She’s Kinda Hot”
“She’s Kinda Hot,” the lead single from their sophomore effort Sounds Good Feels Good, is a title I find quite stultifying.  I rank the epithet with such vapid designations as “Call Me Maybe” “Cailfornia Gurls,” and "All About That Bass.”

Curious, one might say morbidly curious, I put down the remote control and watched.  I wanted to hear if the song was as bad as its title. 

I also felt a diabolical urge to chuckle at hordes of swooning teenage girls who were cutting class and being chaperoned by their mothers.

Guitarist Michael Clifford began playing the song’s opening riff over a cacophony of lovesick squeals and the rattle of Savannah Guthrie’s teeth.  He was soon joined by his bandmates: Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood, and Ashton Irwin.   

Then something strange happened.  It was as strange as Matt Lauer asking a pertinent question.  I found myself tapping my feet and singing along. 

Damn!  Those kids write one heck of a catchy song. 

Actually, the song was written by Michael Clifford, Ashton Irwin, Benji Madden, Joel Madden (both of Good Charlotte) and producer John Feldmann.

As it turns out, the song isn’t vapid at all.  It’s quite deep. 

It’s an anthem of sorts.  As Calum explained in a radio interview, the song is “a revolution for outcasts.”

They say we’re losers and we’re alright with that
We are the leaders of the not-coming-back’s

Rock Snob
Okay, the lyrics are interesting and meaningful.  Still, how can someone like me enjoy any song by 5 Seconds of Summer?

One, there’s my age.  I’m old enough that if I was caught visiting 5 Seconds of Summer’s web site I’d be put on a list. 

Furthermore, I own a Velvet Underground t-shirt.  I’ve seen The National in concert (twice).  And I own a reel-to-reel player.  A REEL-TO-REEL PLAYER FOLKS!

I shouldn’t like any music 5SOS plays.  I shouldn’t like any music 5SOS likes.

My attraction to “She’s Kinda Hot” is preposterous.

Or is it?

5 Seconds Of Science
After a little research, I learned that my appreciation for their ditty is not necessarily a crack in my personality, or even a fault in my taste for music.  No, my affinity for “She’s Kinda Hot” is all about science.

Music affects a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. That’s the same part of the noodle that releases dopamine.  Dopamine is also known as the “pleasure chemical.”

You know what other activities affect the nucleus accumbens?  Yes, that’s right, the activities of sex, eating food, and taking drugs. 

Basically, the nucleus accumbens is the part of the brain that’s triggered by sex, drugs, and rock and roll!

Music also affects another part of the noggin called the amygdala.  The amygdala processes emotions and helps in abstract decision making.

In other words, music affects the most advanced and most primitive areas of the brain. 

Intellectual Conquest
Here’s how my gray matter worked on that fateful October morn:

My brain processed “She’s Kinda Hot” and realized it sounded familiar.  “She’s Kinda Hot” sounded similar to other songs I’ve heard.  My brain had recognized patterns.

Yet, “She’s Kinda Hot” was just different enough to force my brain to predict what was coming next.  My brain predicted the future (so to speak).

As neuroscientist Valorie Salimpoor puts it, I made an “intellectual conquest.”

My brain rewarded my “intellectual conquest” by releasing dopamine.  My brain does this to ensure that I’ll do it again—that I’ll listen to music again. 

In many ways, music is a safe “drug.” 

Cultural & Personal Experiences
Also at play, are cultural and personal experiences.  I grew up listening to classic rock and classic alternative.  Therefore, the pop-punk sensibilities of 5 Seconds of Summer are familiar to me.

If I had grown up listening to the Ragas of India, there would have been no way for me to make an “intellectual conquest” of 5 Seconds’ music.

It was important that I was ignorant of “She’s Kinda Hot.”  When scientists conducted experiments to prove the above, they did so by using songs their test subjects had never heard before.

That is important since previously heard songs may come with emotional baggage.  The song was playing during one’s first kiss or during a painful breakup or by Three Doors Down.

Remember when I wrote that sex and eating release dopamine?  That makes sense since sex and eating are necessary for survival.  Music is not.

Scientists believe that music releases dopamine because it encourages humans to recognize patterns and imagine (predict the future).  While those two things don’t perpetuate the species they are certainly crucial to human beings dominating the planet.


Even though I’m a rock snob, I can’t fight evolution.   So you can go ahead and tweet it to Five Seconds of Summer, my brain likes their songs.

5SOS Live
With heir dopamine-releasing music, their boyish good looks, and their Aussie charm it’s no wonder millions of people are preparing to flock to Five Seconds of Summer concerts next summer.

Five Seconds of Summer kick off the North American leg of their “Sounds Live Feels Live Tour” on July 1 in Uncasville, Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Highlights of their tour include July 9 in Boston, July 15 in New York City (at Madison Square Garden), and Sept. 7 in Los Angeles.

On July 22, Five Seconds of Summer visit Birmingham, Alabama and the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre.

The boys will remain in North America through the middle of September.  Their final date is Sept. 18 in Houston. 

Also look for the band in Asia, Europe, Ireland, and the UK.

Black Sabbath Tour 2016 Will Be ‘The End’


Black Sabbath Tour 2016 Will Be ‘The End’

Black Sabbath released their self-titled debut album in 1970.

In the U.K., the album dropped on Feb. 13.  A week earlier, The Doors released Morrison Hotel.  A week later, Funkadelic released their self-titled debut.

That’s a pretty good couple of weeks of music.  Had I been alive back then, I definitely would have spent all of my February allowance on vinyl.

Two days after Black Sabbath’s debut hit the streets in America, Deep Purple issued their classic Deep Purple in Rock.

That’s appropriate since Ian Gillan played in both bands and Black Sabbath and Deep Purple (along with Led Zeppelin) were the main hard rock/heavy metal bands of the 1970s.

Fast forward 45 years, and Black Sabbath has announced intentions to tour one last time.  Yes, that’s right, Black Sabbath is launching a farewell tour.

Their tour poster reads: “The final tour by the greatest metal band of all time.”

Their upcoming trek will feature Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, and Geezer Butler—three of the band’s original members.

Drummer Bill Ward (the fourth original member) had a falling out with the fellows in 2012 and it’s unknown if he’ll join.  Iommi said it’s all up to “Bill.”  

As things stand now, Tommy Clufetos, Ozzy’s drummer, is set to sit in.

Last Tour
The band last toured in 2014.  That’s when they wrapped up their 84-show “Reunion Tour” (it launched in 2012).  The trek visited five continents and supported the band’s nineteenth studio album, 13.

The album 13 was the first Black Sabbath platter to feature Geezer Butler since 1994 and the first to feature Ozzy Osbourne since 1978.

New Album?
As for a new Black Sabbath album, Iommi said he’s been writing, and “tracks are ready,” but he also said things are “up in the air.” 

One has to assume if they don’t get into the studio real soon (like right now) there won’t be a new Sabbath album… ever!  It seems a little weird to release a new album after your farewell tour.

Also, you have to believe that after a year on the road, the members will be sick of one another and the last thing they’ll want to do is spend more time together in the studio.

Farewell Tours
Sabbath’s ultimate tour comes when Motley Crüe and The Who are winding down their own farewell outings.


Black Sabbath, Motley Crüe, and The Who are all saying “no more touring” forever.  What are the chances that any of those bands will stay true to their word?

Motley Crüe apparently signed a binding legal document stating they would never tour again.  Who knows if they will abide to those terms?  After all, members of that band have killed people so breaking a legal document seems well within their means.

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey don’t need the money like John Entwistle did and touring just makes them the butt of a bunch of old jokes.  It’s highly conceivable they actually mean it when they say goodbye.

As for Sabbath, it appears this will definitely be their last go around. 

Tough Travels
“I can’t actually do this anymore,” notes Iommi.  “My body won’t take it much more.  All the traveling involved in Sabbath tours increasingly takes its toll.”

To clarify, Iommi loves performing and he loves Sabbath fans.  It’s not the rocking, or face shredding, or ear melting that “takes its toll” it’s the grind of traveling.   

Even though he’s flying, driving, and lodging in first class accommodations, the rigors of going from city to city, country to country, is just too much for the 67-year-old guitar legend.  In fact, he’ll be 69 by the time the tour is completed.

Iommi is also recovering from lymphoma.  The disease has gone into remission but he still has to check in regularly with his doctor.  

“Even when we build in rest breaks,” explains Iommi, “I have to have blood tests every six weeks.  I find it tough going.”

Between Motley Crüe, The Who, and Black Sabbath, I’ll say Sabbath is the least likely to tour again and Crüe the most likely.

The End 2016 Tour
Black Sabbath’s “The End 2016 Tour” gets underway Jan. 20 in Omaha, Nebraska.  According to Black Sabbath’s web site, their next two stops are the United Center in Chicago (Jan. 22) and the Target Center in Minneapolis (Jan. 25).

Also on the itinerary are stops in Los Angeles (Feb. 11), Las Vegas (Feb. 13), and Detroit (Feb. 19).
Of their 17 North American dates, six are in Canada: Saskatoon (Jan. 28), Edmonton (Jan. 30), Calgary (Feb. 1), Vancouver (Feb. 3), Hamilton (Feb. 21), and Montreal (Feb. 23).

Their North American leg wraps Feb. 25 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

In April, Sabbath has seven dates plotted for Australia and New Zealand.

From June through early July, the band will perform all over Europe.  Their route begins in Budapest on June 1 and ends July 12 in Moscow.

According to Iommi, more dates are coming.  He says the tour, when all said and done, will last about a year.

The End
Don’t take this as hype, or as a cheap marketing ploy, but this is really your last chance to see Black Sabbath in concert.  When “The End” comes to an end expect Black Sabbath to never hit the road again. 

As Iommi said: “…we’re going out on one last tour, to say our farewells.  And then it very definitely is the end.  We won’t be doing it again.”

A-Ha, Dexys, Madness, and The Correct Definition Of One-Hit Wonder


A-Ha, Dexys, Madness, and The Correct Definition Of One-Hit Wonder

When it comes to music, there are many things that frustrate me…

… Established bands releasing covers as singles

… Paperless ticketing

… Drum solos

… The Video Music Awards

At the top of this rundown of vexation is when artists are referred to as “one-hit wonders” when they’re really not one-hit wonders.

It’s sloppy, ignorant, and lazy scholarship. 

It’s like ill-using “irony” or not knowing the meaning of “literally.”

The misapplication of “one-hit wonder” irks me because the phrase has negative connotations.  Using it inappropriately can besmirch an otherwise good artist.


This recently happened in a post on a USA Today blog about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III being demoted to second string.

Later in the article, the author speculates that Griffin will become “the NFL’s version of Dexys Midnight Runners.”

In other words, the author is calling Griffin a “one-hit wonder.”

Assess Griffin’s talents how you will, but Dexys Midnight Runners are not one-hit wonders! 

Sure, “Come On Eileen,” which went to number one in 1982, is the band’s only top 20 hit in the U.S., but Dexys had seven top 20 hits in the U.K.

Beyond that, they’ve made some good music.  Check out the album containing “Come On Eileen,” Too-Rye-Ay, it’s solid.

Dexys Midnight Runners’ Other Great Songs
"The Celtic Soul Brothers"
“Let’s Make This Precious”
“Plan B”
“There, There My Dear”

Yes, Dexys only had one chart-topper in the U.S. but they are much better than your typical “one-hit wonder.” 

The unflattering cognomen doesn’t apply to them and many other acts that have compiled a respectable musical corpus but haven’t experienced chart success.

So What Exactly Is A One-Hit Wonder?
If we go by how many Top 40 or Top 20 hits an artist has to their credit then we run into problems.  That system doesn’t really speak to an artist’s output.

If we only count acts that have cracked the Top 40, but not the Top 20, then Rush, Korn, Frank Zappa, Iggy Pop, The White Stripes, and Roxy Music are all one-hit wonders. 

But those acts are not one-hit wonders.  They are influential artists with a huge catalog of great songs.

If we only count acts that have cracked the Top 20 then Jimi Hendrix, The Clash, The Grateful Dead, Talking Heads, Kings of Leon, T. Rex, and Smashing Pumpkins are all one-hit wonders. 

But those acts are not one-hit wonders.  There are legends, icons, and superstars that have changed the face of music.

We usually think of one-hit wonders as artists who had fleeting careers—blink and you missed them.  Yet, there are several bands that have technically never even had a “hit” but are the cornerstones of popular music.

Artists that have never had a top 40 hit include Bob Marley, Phish, Leonard Cohen, Morrissey, The Ramones, Pixies, and Iron Maiden.

Here’s further proof that the charts are an inaccurate measurement of an artist’s output…

>>Bob Dylan has never had a number one single.
>>Lil Wayne (64) and the Glee Cast (51) have more Top 40 singles than The Beatles (50).
>>Mariah Carey is tied with Elvis Presley for the most weeks at number one (79).
>>Rihanna (13) has more number one singles than The Supremes (12), Madonna (12), and Whitney Houston (11).
>>Drake (91) has as many if not more Hot 100 entries than James Brown (91), Ray Charles (80), Aretha Franklin (73), and The Beatles (71).

One Song
Obviously, we can’t only use chart success in determining “one-hit wonders.”  It creates too many problems, exceptions, and paradoxes.

We also must be careful to assume that a one-hit wonder is an artist whose entire career is based on the popularity of one song.   

After all, where would Weezer be without “Buddy Holly,” Everclear without “Santa Monica,” Sinead O’Connor without “Nothing Compares 2 U,” or A-ha without “Take On Me?” 

Heck, where would KISS be without "Rock and Roll All Nite?"

Going back to A-ha, they are NOT a one-hit wonder.  In fact, they’ve reunited to release their tenth studio album and are preparing to collect concert tickets via a European tour.

A-ha had three top 20 hits in the U.S. and eight number one singles in their native Norway.

To define the term “one-hit wonder,” and to keep its negative connotations, we must say that it applies to artists who are artistically, commercially, and historically known for just one song.

If we use just the main singles chart, the Billboard Hot 100, then there are hundreds of one-hit wonders including the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Buffalo Springfield, Lou Reed, Randy Newman, Kate Bush, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, and Liz Phair.

Using my definition, which is infinitely more accurate, than there are actually very few one-hit wonders. 

That makes sense since most acts can parlay the success of one hit into another.  And truth be told, most artists actually have enough talent to put together a decent music career.

Still, not everyone can be U2, Coldplay, or Taylor Swift.

>>Brewer and Shipley, whose only Top 40 hit is “One Toke Over the Line,” have released 11 studio albums and are still performing live.  Therefore, they are not a one-hit wonder.

>>A Flock of Seagulls released three straight top 40 singles in 1982—one of them being
“I Ran (So Far Away).”  They’ve also won a Grammy Award.  Therefore, they are not a one-hit wonder.

>>Madness is best known for “Our House,” which peaked at #7 in 1982, but they sent “It Must Be Love” to #33 in 1981.  Therefore, it’s madness to call Madness a one-hit wonder.

Also, Madness owned the charts in their native U.K.  From 1979 to 1986, they charted twenty Top 20 singles.  If you’ve heard Madness then you know they are far more substantial than any one-hit wonder.

Actual One-Hit Wonders
Steam – “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" (1969)
Zager and Evans — “In the Year 2525” (1969)
Mountain – “Mississippi Queen” (1970)
Starland Vocal Band — “Afternoon Delight” (1976)
The Vapors — “Turning Japanese” (1980)
Tony Basil – “Mickey” (1982)
Michael Penn – “No Myth” (1990)
Lou Bega — "Mambo No. 5" (1999)
Baha Men — “Who Let the Dogs Out?” (2000)
Daniel Powter — “Bad Day” (2005)

My Recommendation
I recommend the author of the blog post drop the Dexys reference; it doesn’t make any sense (the band is not a one-hit wonder).

In its place, I’d suggest referencing The Georgia Satellites.  Their only hit was “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.”  It went to #2 in 1986. 

Who’s Cooler: The Beatles Or The Rolling Stones?

BeatlesStonesWho’s Cooler: The Beatles Or The Rolling Stones?

As a writer, I don’t like to use the word “cool”—unless, of course, I’m writing about temperature.

I think it’s lazy; there’s always a better word.

Nonetheless, “cool” is part of our lexicon and our culture, but what exactly does the word mean?

It’s easier to cite examples of cool then it is to create a definition.  For example, Elvis Presley (before he started making movies), Jimi Hendrix, Joe Strummer, Morrissey, Kurt Cobain, and Jack White are cool.  Pat Boone, Milli Vanilli, and American Idol contestants are not.

To further complicate matters, one can evolve in and out of “cool.”  Neil Diamond is certainly cooler now than he was in the 1970s.  Time has not been so kind to Ozzy Osbourne, David Lee Roth, and Dave Matthews.

We can parse the word “cool,” and argue over who deserves it as an honorific title, until the cows come home.  I hope we do since it strengthens my claim of not using the word when I write (I seldom use it in conversation either).

Beatles or Stones
There is one avenue, a battle really, where we don’t need to spend any time defining the word “cool.”  That’s rock and roll’s age old question of who is cooler: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

The question has been the subject of books, broken up friendships, and caused many a sleepless night (fans arguing until sunrise).

It’s time to ask the question again as both bands find themselves in the news.

In The News
The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. The Beatles were inducted in 1988.  The other three have also made it based on their solo careers.

In 2015, the Rolling Stones are touring and re-issuing their 1971 classic album, Sticky Fingers.  Their tour begins May 24 and ends July 15.  The Rolling Stones in San Diego is their first tour stop while Quebec is the last.

The last time a Rolling Stones tour hit North America was 2013.

Cool Reputation
More times than not when this question is asked The Stones come out on top.  That’s because the usual metrics used in determining “cool” are in the Stones’ wheelhouse.

The Stones are bad boys who sing about sex, drugs, and partying.  For example, The Beatles have an album called Let It Be while the Stones have one called Let It Bleed.

For some reason, such decedent and deviant behavior attracts the label of “cool.”

If you asked this question on the Rolling Stones Facebook page, or on the Rolling Stones Twitter account, you’ll definitely find thousands of fans that will agree.  That should surprise no one.  It probably won’t surprise anyone if causal rock fans pick the Stones too—being cool is the band’s reputation.

Old Fogies
There are, however, a few things we need to consider before anointing either band as the coolest.

The Beatles were around for a decade.  The Stones are going on 53 years.

It’s always easier to be cool in the short run.  For example, we’ve all met what we thought was a super cool person at a party—we spend a few minutes with them over the course of an evening and we think they’re Lenny Kravitz.  Then we spend an entire afternoon with them and realize they’re lamer than our parents—they’re Billy Corgan.

The Beatles broke up in 1970 and therefore never had the embarrassment of releasing “Harlem Shuffle” or performing “Love Me Do” in their sixties.  The last image we have of The Beatles is the “Fab Four” in their late 20s performing on a rooftop.  That’s a pretty cool image.

The Stones have been suffering through jokes about their age for the past two and half decades.

“Old” generally repels “cool.”

Beggars Banquet
The Stones really didn’t become the “Stones” until December of 1968 when they released Beggars Banquet.  If you check the Rolling Stones archive you’ll find that the opus contains the classic tracks: “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Jigsaw Puzzle,” “Street Fighting Man,” and “Salt of the Earth.”

Their earlier stuff was really good but they didn’t really find their iconic big stadium, bluesy rock sound until Beggars Banquet.  The LP was released a month after The Beatles released The White Album.

Although the two bands were contemporaries their heydays were not congruent.  The Beatles hit their zenith from 1966 to 1969 while the Stones hit theirs from 1969 to 1972.

Sgt. Pepper’s
In 1967, in response to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Stones released Their Satanic Majesties Request.  It was a blatant attempt to capitalize on the success of Sgt. Peppers.

Not cool, man.  Not cool.

Bad Boys
Finally, The Beatles were actual bad boys but were cleaned up by their management.  The Rolling Stones were middle class kids going to art school billed as bad boys.  A role they eventually grew into.

For example, in 1967, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brain Jones were all charged with drug offences (Richards would go on to be arrested four more times).

The Answer
As you can see, to answer our original questions we must ask even more questions.  Do you take each band in its entirety?  Do you compare their heydays?  Do you ignore the 1980s and beyond?  Do you count Bill Wyman?

To make everything easier just consider the following…

Regardless of who is cooler, we all agree they both bands are pretty cool.  Now, almost all of The Beatles’ songs were about love.  It’s not easy to sing about love and be as cool as they were.

When singing about love it’s real easy to become trite, maudlin, and/or saccharine.   That never happened to John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

The Stones sang about love too but they sang a lot about sex and drugs.  It’s easier to sound “cool” when singing about that stuff.

And that’s why the answer to our question should be The Beatles.  But let’s not give an answer just yet.

The Cool Answer
My two favorite bands are The Beatles and the Stones.  I also think they’re the two greatest rock bands of all-time.  I list them as 1 and 1a.

So when it comes to cool why can’t we do the same thing?  After all, that’s the cool answer.

By the way, the coolest member of either band is, by far, Stones drummer Charlie Watts.

Six Famous Rock Stars Who Do Not Sing

Carlos SantanaSix Famous Rock Stars Who Do Not Sing

“Carlos Santana is the most famous rock star who does not sing.”

That’s part of the opening sentence to Chris Willman’s review of Carlos Santana’s new book, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light.  To learn more about the autobiography visit Santana’s Web site.

Is Carlos Santana the most famous rock star who doesn’t sing?  And by “sing” I mean lead vocals—Santana is frequently credited with singing backup.  There are a lot of rockers who don’t sing but few that are famous and even fewer that are as famous as Carlos Santana.

Below, Musicology-101 looks at Carlos Santana and five other rock stars who are very well known but eschew crooning.   As you’ll soon learn, Willman is on to something.  Of course, we’ll leave it up to you to make the final decision but Carlos Santana is definitely one of the most famous rock stars who does not sing.

Angus Young
AC/DC’s lead guitarist, Angus Young, may not be a household name, but his schoolboy-uniform and duckwalking are as synonymous with rock and roll as drugs and sexy groupies.  Young and AC/DC have sold more than 200 million albums during their hall of fame career.  Their 1980 opus, Back in Black, is one of the bestselling albums of all-time having sold more than 50 million units.  AC/DC may be known for using three-chords but Young is still widely regarded as one of the genre’s greatest guitarists.

Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana is one of rock’s greatest guitarists and successfully fused it with Latin music.  One or the other would have been enough to get him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but accomplishing both has made him a legend.  While Santana does sing backup, he does all his talking with his axe.  Santana’s 1999 album, Supernatural, is probably what prompted Willman to call Carlos the most famous non-singing rock star instead of “one of the most.”  The album sold more than 30 million copies and captured nine Grammy Awards.

Currently, Santana, both the man and the band, are in the middle of a residency at the House of Blues Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.  On March 8, 2015, Santana begins the “Corazon Tour” in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Less than two weeks later the group plays the first of three shows in Mexico.  Carlos and company return to the House of Blues in late May.

Eddie Van Halen
Let’s ignore the little lead singing Eddie Van Halen has done during his illustrious career (lead vocals on “How Many Say I” from Van Halen III).  After all, his guitar work speaks volumes—Van Halen has sold more than 80 million albums and Guitar World readers named him the greatest guitarist of all-time.  Eddie’s fame doesn’t stop there.  He appeared in an episode of Two and Half Men and was married to an actress (Valerie Bertinelli).  Within his own generation he’s the “most famous rock star who does not sing,” but when you start including rock fans from other eras he probably falls behind Santana.

Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page was the lead guitarist for one of rock’s most influential bands, Led Zeppelin.  He’s consistently in the top five when it comes to “greatest guitarists of all-time” lists.  If there was a Mount Rushmore for rock guitarists he’d be on it.  Page is probably Santana’s biggest threat to Willman’s honorific of “most famous rock star who does not sing.”  While every rock fan knows Page (and his riffs), he’s much more of a mystery than Carlos Santana.  For example, Carlos Santana has a Twitter page, Page does not.

John Bonham
John Bonham is the second member of Led Zeppelin on our list and the only drummer.  His death in September of 1980 caused the band to dissolve.  Bonham is arguably the greatest drummer in rock and roll history.  He inspired generations with his beats, innovations, and ability to find a song’s groove.  Just as everyone who picks up an axe tries to play “Stairway to Heaven,” everyone who picks up a pair of drumsticks tries to play “When the Levee Breaks.”

Saul Hudson plays a sweet guitar.  So sweet he has to go by the name Slash.  Whether in Guns N’ Roses, Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, or as a solo act, Slash has melted faces with his proficient guitar shredding.  Besides being a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Slash frequently finds himself high on rundowns of rock’s greatest guitarists.  If Guns N’ Roses had endured a little longer, Slash may have very well ran away with the title of “most famous rock star who does not sing.”  He’s still the most famous rock star who wears a top hat.

U2 Should Be Considered One Of The Greatest Rock Bands of All-Time

U2 Innocence Experience TourU2 Should Be Considered One Of The Greatest Rock Bands of All-Time

If you haven’t done so already you should start doing it now.  I’m talking about calling U2 one of the greatest rock bands of all-time.

I don’t mean putting them in a category that’s as broad as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (where 108 groups have been inducted).  I mean they should be in the argument for the greatest rock band that ever stepped onto a stage.  They’re on par with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Pink Floyd.

If rock and roll had a Mount Rushmore, their likeness should be carved in the stone facade (although the logistics of that would be incredible).

U2 deserves such lofty consideration because they’ve consistently been one of the top rock bands of the last 35 years—ever since they released their debut album, Boy, in 1980.  To demonstrate the importance of that album, its opening track, “I Will Follow,” is the band’s most played song in concert.

None of the aforementioned titans of rock have reigned as long as U2.  The Beatles were around for less than a decade.  Led Zeppelin rocked for about a dozen years.  The Who are still touring but they’ve been a different band since the 1980s.  Only The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd have managed to post careers longer than U2’s.

U2 just released their 13th studio album, Songs of Innocence.  The album was free to download if you were one of iTunes’ 500 million customers.  According to the digital music retailer, 81 million people listened to the album while 26 million downloaded it.

In addition to all of those amazing numbers, Rolling Stone magazine named Songs of Innocence the top album of 2014.

Rolling Stone’s 13th studio album is Goats Head Soup–the LP that saw the Stones morph from rock force into rock farce.

Pink Floyd’s 13th studio opus is A Momentary Lapse of Reason.  It might as well have been called “A Momentary Lapse of Quality” as it’s not the band’s finest work.

When Songs of Innocence was released, U2 was approaching the 35-year mark (counting from the release of their debut album).

The analogous Stones album was Bridges to Babylon.  A pretty good effort but nowhere near as relevant as Songs of Innocence.

Pink Floyd was dissolved when their 35th anniversary rolled around.  The milestone occurred between the band’s final two albums, The Division Bell and The Endless River.  The last title was based on material recorded during the making of the former.  Both albums were excoriated by critics.

So, the Irish band is still relevant after 35 years.  That’s about as big of a deal as U2’s twitter account having 352,000 followers.  Neither accomplishment makes them worthy of the title of the greatest rock band of all-time.

That’s true but U2 has all the other things a band needs for entry into the Valhalla of Rock.

U2 has sold 150 million records.  That puts them behind every group in this article but The Who.  There is a caveat to U2’s album sales.  For the last fourth of their career fans have stopped buying recorded music.

U2 has 22 Grammy Awards on their mantle—no rock band has more.   They’ve won Album, Record, and Song of the Year twice.  All total, they’ve earned 47 nominations.

U2 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.

U2 is responsible for the highest grossing concert tour of all-time (“The 360° Tour”) and are the world’s number one live act.

U2’s next concert series, “Innocence + Experience Tour,” begins May 14 in Vancouver, British Columbia.  The trek visits Madison Square Garden four times.  U2 is in New York on July 18, 19, 22, and 23.

U2 reminds me of The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd.  All three bands can play all night and not perform all their hits.  Chances are good that if you attend a U2 concert you won’t hear all of their popular songs.

On top of all that they have the intangibles: cool factor, genre bending, epic philanthropy, and a Sgt. Pepper’s type album (The Joshua Tree).

They’ve written great songs that have been covered by a bunch of great artists.  They are better live than they are recorded.  And even though they have a distinct sound their songs don’t all sound the same.

They are commercially successful, adored by critics, award-winning, and insanely popular.  Characteristics shared by all the other bands mentioned in this article.

If the band continues on their current path, and they’ve given no indication of slowing down, the question won’t be “Is U2 one of the greatest bands of all-time.”  The question will be “Who’s the greatest rock band of all-time after U2.”

Katy Perry Will Set Record For Most Watched Super Bowl Halftime Show Of All-Time

KatyPerrySuperBowlKaty Perry Will Set Record For Most Watched Super Bowl Halftime Show Of All-Time

I think it’s one of the most overrated gigs of the year.  It’s especially overrated if you’re a hardcore football fan. 

I’m of course talking about the halftime show at the Super Bowl.  Football fans spend all season using halftimes to go to the bathroom, reheat nachos, and/or watch another game.  But for the Super Bowl we all of sudden must endure several minutes of a performer who has nothing to do with the sport, game, or the two teams playing.

This year, the stage for the Super Bowl halftime show has been handed to Katy Perry.  Super Bowl XLIX is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2015 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona.

I’ll be honest; I don’t watch the Super Bowl for the halftime entertainment.  I watch it because I love football.  In fact, I don’t even go to Super Bowl parties anymore because I don’t want to be distracted from the game.

While I eagerly await the Super Bowl to crown a new NFL champion, many await the Big Game to experience a larger-than-life spectacle.  The NFL’s ultimate annual contest is the world’s biggest sporting event and that makes its halftime show, contrary to my opinion, relevant, important, and newsworthy. 

In the wake of the infamous wardrobe malfunction of 2004, the NFL booked a plethora of veteran rockers used to playing large stadiums: Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty & the Heartbreaks, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and The Who.

In 2011, with the image of Janet Jackson’s nipple nearly forgotten, the league decided to go back to attracting younger audiences.  To that aim they tapped The Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Madonna, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, Destiny’s Child, and Bruno Mars (they also threw in Slash and the Red Hot Chili Peppers for good measure).  In other words, Katy Perry’s selection wasn’t a matter of “if” but a matter of “when.”

Her selection was immediately greeted with open arms.  ABC News posted an article listing 5 reasons why Katy Perry was “the obvious choice.”  Their reasons are: her costumes are always out of this world, her sets don’t disappoint, she’s promising animal involvement, she loves her fans, and her Twitter presence alone will create a stir.  It’s a favorable write up but those aren’t reasons.  They’re descriptions. 

The Katy Perry love affair continued on CNN.com.  They ran down three reasons why Perry will “kill it.” 

The first is “she’s got energetic, exuberant pop.”  Hard to argue with that statement as Katy Perry has nine number one hits to her credit.

CNN’s second reason is “everyone from your grandma to your 3-year-old nephew knows her music.”  I disagree.  In the 1960s everyone knew what The Beatles sounded like, even those that didn’t like them.  Nowadays, you can be a major pop star with nine number one hits and few people outside of your immediate fan base know what you sound like. 

The news network’s final reason is the best: “She gives a show-stopping performance.”  No one can argue with that.  Say what you will about her music (and her aesthetic), but the girl can flat out get it done on stage.

I’d like to say that on Super Bowl Sunday she needs to deliver the performance of a lifetime but that’s not true.  It was true 20 years ago but not anymore.  The bigger train wreck you are the more attention you’ll get.  During her halftime performance, Perry can lip sync and fall off the stage and her celebrity will only increase.

Bottom line, Perry checks a lot of boxes for the NFL.  She’s young, popular, and safe—unless you object to cleavage and songs about chicks kissing one another.  She’s a social media über star; Katy Perry’s Twitter account has over 60 million followers—the most of any celebrity. 

As we learned from ABC News and CNN, the singer is a media magnet.  She forgets to cover her mouth during a sneeze and it’s all over the internet.  There will probably be more ink about her performing at the Super Bowl then there will be about the two teams actually playing in the game.

Her immense celebrity will make her recognizable to older football fans—they may not know her music but they will at least know her name. 

Male football fans may prefer a hard rocking band like Bon Jovi, or country music superstar Kenny Chesney, but at least with Katy Perry they’ll get some eye candy.

Where she’ll really pay huge dividends for the NFL is her ability to attract young women.  While a lot of chicks love the NFL I’m sure the league’s smallest demographics are girls/women in their tweens, teens, and early twenties. 

If you’re going to have a huge halftime show you might as well use it to draw viewers that might not otherwise check out the game.  Sure, the Super Bowl is a pop culture event that transcends sports, but booking Katy Perry might be enough to entice some people to skip the mall and watch the Big Game instead.

That’s why for the third time in four years the Super Bowl halftime show will set a record.  In 2012, Madonna attracted 114 million viewers.  In 2013, Mars broke that record with 115.3 million pair of eyeballs.  In 2014, look for Katy Perry to break the 117 million mark.


Taylor Swift’s 1989 And Other Famous Fifth Albums

TaylorSwift1979Taylor Swift’s 1989 And Other Famous Fifth Albums

Taylor Swift launches her “The 1989 World Tour” on May 5, 2015 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo.  The North American leg begins May 20 in Bossier City, Louisiana and ends Oct. 31 in Tampa, Florida—a small European leg is going down in June.  In December of 2015, Swift has plans to tour Australia.

Highlights of her upcoming route include Taylor Swift in Philadelphia on June 13, Taylor Swift in Dallas on Oct. 17, and Taylor Swift in Atlanta on Oct. 24.  Her massive world trek, which has the songstress performing in a bunch of huge stadiums, is named after her latest offering, 1989.  It might be hard to believe, especially since Swift turns 25 on Dec. 13, but this is her fifth studio album.

Below, Musicology-101 looks at famous “fifth” studio albums by prominent female singers.  As you’ll soon read, Swift has a lot to live up to because the following six albums are all quite good.  Of course, her oeuvre is selling quite briskly (at least by today’s standards) and critics can’t stop slobbering over it (see Rolling Stone magazine).  By the way, Adele, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Carrie Underwood have yet to release their fifth studio offering.

Mariah Carey – Daydream (1995)

In 1989 Swift ditches the twang of Nashville and embraces pop music (maybe you read about it on Taylor Swift’s Twitter account?).  Similarly, in Daydream Mariah Carey continued her migration away from adult contemporary and to R&B/hip hop.  Daydream produced three number one singles: “Fantasy,” which is the first single by a female artist to premiere at number one on the Billboard Hit 100; “One Sweet Day” with Boyz II Men, which is the longest-running number one single of all-time; and “Always Be My Baby,” which tied Carey with Whitney Houston and Madonna for the most number one hits by a female.  Daydream has sold more than 10 million copies and earned six Grammy Award nominations.

Christina Aguilera – Back to Basics (2006)

For Back to Basics, Christina Aguilera wanted to incorporate jazz, blues, and soul from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.  That really didn’t happened as her final product is a fairly accessible pop/R&B album with a lot of horn samples.  Back to Basics was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album and sold 4.5 million copies worldwide.  Some critics liked the fact that Aguilera tried something new while others thought it was too long.  The double album clocks in at more than 78 minutes.  Swift’s 1989 runs less than 49 minutes.

Britney Spears – Blackout – (2007)

Britney Spears did little to promote Blackout.  All she did was poorly sing “Gimme More” at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.  This lack or promotion is probably why Blackout didn’t debut at number one—a first for Spears.  Despite that, the album went on to sell more than 3 million copies worldwide.  Critics liked it but said her voice was over-processed and questioned whether the credit should go to her or her army of producers.  Even so, Blackout made a bunch of year-end “best of” lists.

Pink – Funhouse (2008)

Pink called Funhouse her most vulnerable album to date.  The opus peaked at number two on the billboard 200, was certified 2x platinum, and earned three Grammy Award nominations.  Funhouse also produced six singles: “So What,” “Sober,” “Please Don’t Leave Me,” “Funhouse,” “I Don’t Believe You,” and “Glitter in the Air.”  The first of those six songs went all the way to the top of the singles chart.  Pink wanted to call this work “Heartbreak Is a Motherf**ker” but her record label surprisingly balked.

Rihanna – Loud (2010)

Rihanna released Loud in November of 2010 and then seven months later she launched a world tour.  The album 1989 dropped in late October and seven months later Taylor Swift will launch a world tour.  That’s pretty much where the similarities end.  Rihanna’s Loud was a return to her dancehall roots while Swift’s 1989 is a complete departure from her country background.  Rihanna’s Loud peaked at number three while Swift’s 1989 debuted at number one.  Rihanna’s Loud garnered decent reviews, produced seven singles, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and sold nearly 6 million copies worldwide.  Swift’s 1989 has received positive reviews but the jury is still out on the other stuff.

Beyoncé – Beyoncé (2013)

Beyoncé’s self-titled, fifth studio album hit the streets with no advanced notice or marketing.  The album was released exclusively on iTunes where it quickly became their fastest selling album ever.  A week later, physical copies hit store shelves (two discs, one CD and one DVD).  Critics loved the work but that’s not saying much.  When does a critic ever say anything bad about Beyoncé?  This is the first album Beyoncé made after the birth of her daughter.

The Who And Their Use Of The Word “Who”

 The Who Hits 50

The Who And Their Use Of The Word “Who”

On Oct. 27, The Who is set to release a compilation album called The Who Hits 50!  The 42-track, double-disc collection contains their greatest hits, rare tracks, and a brand new song called “Be Lucky.”  The name of this ultimate oeuvre is also the name of their upcoming world trek.  Both the album and The Who tour are celebrating the band’s 50th Anniversary.

The Who begins what they’re calling their last tour on Nov. 23 in Abu Dhabi.  It ends Nov. 4, 2015 in Philadelphia.  The North American portion of their odyssey kicks off April 15, 2015 in Tampa.  Highlights of their “Amazing Journey” include Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, Boston, and New York City.

I won’t be at any of the above shows but I will be at the Sept. 25 Who concert in Portland, Oregon.  The Who are one of my all-time favorite bands and I’m not going to miss the chance to say goodbye.  I not only enjoy their music, I also enjoy the hilarious wordplay that their name inspires.

“Who are you listening to?”
“The Who.”
“I don’t know who, that’s why I’m asking.”

It’s silly but it’s always funny.  ALWAYS.

The Who are definitely aware of the fun that can be had with their appellation.  They’ve incorporated it into several song and album titles.  Below, Musicology-101 looks at the seven times The Who used their titular pronoun to name something.

Who’s Next (1971)
The Who Sell Out dropped in 1967 but without a question mark at the end it’s not asking someone to repeat a query (as in “who sold out?”).  The title is just telling us that the band has sold out.  Four years later, the band released one of the greatest albums of the 1970s and dubbed it Who’s Next—the first time The Who really played around with their name.

Originally, the project was called Lifehouse but it was so difficult to pull off that the idea was scuttled.  Instead, the band made Who’s Next, an album comprised of unrelated songs.  Key tracks on Who’s Next include “Baba O’Riley,” “Bargain,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Who Are You (1978)
On the cover of Who Are You, The Who’s eighth studio album, Keith Moon is seen sitting in a turned-around chair.  The back of the chair reads “not to be taken away.”  Twenty days later Keith Moon died of a drug overdose.  Like Who’s Next, Who Are You contains a lot of tracks inspired by the failed Lifehouse project.  Also like Who’s Next, The Who used a lot synthesizers.

In Who Are You, Townshend (who wrote six of the album’s nine tracks) was trying to combine progressive rock with punk rock, two seemingly conflicting genres.  Did he succeed?  Not really, but Who Are You is a great album nonetheless.

“Who Are You” (1978)
“Who Are You” is the title track of the album of the same name (as well as the theme song to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation).  The single peaked at number 14 in the United States.  It’s The Who’s third-highest charting single on the other side of the Atlantic.

The song is based on a real story.  Like the first lyric of the song explains, Pete Townshend did wake up drunk in a Soho doorway, he was recognized by a police officer, and the cop did tell him to get up and go home.  Quite unusual for a mainstream rock album from 1978, “Who Are You” contains two instances of the “f-word.”

Who’s Greatest Hits (1983)
If you’re new to The Who a great place to start is 1983’s Who’s Greatest Hits.  The 13 tracks found on this collection represent the band’s finest work—from “Substitute” to “Who Are You.”  It also contains “Relay,” a fairly obscure track, and the original version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”  Get this album on vinyl.  The Union Jack shirt on the cover is well worth the additional cost.

Who’s Last (1984)
Who’s Last is a live album released in 1984.  It was meant to be the band’s final opus.  It was not.  Most of the album was recorded Dec. 14, 1982 in Cleveland, Ohio.  The performance was billed as the last Who concert in the United States.  It was not.

Who’s Missing (1985)
Released in November of 1985, Who’s Missing is a collection of rare and unreleased Who songs.  Tracks on the compilation include “Shout and Shimmy,” “Barbara Ann,” “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand,” and “Bargain (Live).”  Two years later, The Who released a similar album called Two’s Missing.

Who’s Better Who’s Best: This Is The Very Best of The Who (1988)
Apart from the Who’s Greatest Hits, Who’s Better Who’s Best: This Is The Very Best of The Whois the band’s definitive collection.  It includes several tracks not found on the Who’s Greatest Hits including “The Kids Are Alright,” “I’m a Boy,” “I Can See for Miles,” “I Can’t Explain,” “See Me, Feel Me,” “Join Together,” and “You Better You Bet.”  The Who’s Greatest Hits rocks hard while Who’s Better Who’s Best showcases Townshend’s songwriting prowess.  Again, you’ll want this album on vinyl if for nothing else than the linear notes.