That’s right, something DEFINITELY happened about 2009 or 2010 in the music industry. I’ve always blamed it on the rise of social media, and the preponderance of streaming, that resulted in charts being based not on sales, but on non-existent (sometimes) plays by people who would never have bought the music in the old system, but who merely flick a play button on YouTube, Spotify, et al, and shazam, the song is then deemed “popular”.
And many bands – as in a group of people, usually men, who do something like “play” something called “musical instruments” and write, something called “songs” that are then bought, with something called “money” and then enter the charts – are simply no longer around.
Yes, they dominate with miniscule sales nowadays, the album charts, and they completely can make a killing in concerts; which in my opinion are actually “popular” music nowadays; as there is simply NO comparison between a zoomer who clicks a play button and someone who spends their 30 quid to go and watch live music, but I digress.
This trend also happened to U2, whose first hit was the above “Fire” in 1981, hitting in at #35 in the UK, whilst their last, incidentally in 2009, was “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight“, only in at #32.
Interesting, I literally didn’t know that REM were still having chart records, well into the 21st century (having given up on them mainly after the New Adventures in Hi-Fi album, though I still knew that they were going strong’ish).
Though they may have been bought primarily by their fanbase, a top 40 record (particularly back then), was STILL a hit record. I do remember them occasionally playing this on the radio, but almost as an afterthought, as in “Yes, we know you have fans and your big, but. . . “
Their first was back in 1987, with the seminal The One I Love, a #16 in 1987:
Whilst there last, number 32 in total!, was Wanderlust, which hit #27 in 2005.
This was always interesting to me, as I recall, Rolling Stone laughed at these guys, due to them being a “white rap group”; in their review of the British Invasion, Part 2, in 1983/84. Little did they know that shortly, they’d be huge, even in America.
As a showcase how they changed, Young Guns (Go for It) came from 1982 and was rap. But after several giant hits, in a variety of pop styles, they released in 1986, my personal favourite, Edge of Heaven – far more upbeat and for Wham, maybe even “gritty”? If that is an oxymoron, please forgive me.
Being young, and not remembering the black and white world of my parents; when they talked of the Pat Boones, Fats Dominos or even Elvis, I was completely unknowing of what they were speaking about. All of these people who had their hair so short, wore such conservative clothes, etc. It was literally another world.
So it is interesting to know that the Everlys, tried and were nearly successful in breaking out of that fifties / early sixties era. Their first hit, was of course Bye, Bye Love in 1957, that came in at number 2 in America, and number 6 here. Whilst their last, complete with “groovy” 60s’ clothing (and in colour by the way!), was this gem, Bowling Green. That ended up, tellingly, at only number 40 in the USA in 1967. Enjoy.
This is the start of this type of entry, and one that has intrigued me for some time. It is particularly interesting in these days, as many of the old school rockers and artists, whilst never being able to have enough streams (free) for their albums and in particular, for their singles (if they even release them) to be “hits”, are at the same time selling out concerts where the minimum ticket is 25 to 50 quid.
A while ago, I was listening to an American commentator, who mentioned the same thing. It concerned Bob Segar or Prince, and stated the obvious, that their back catalogs were worth a fortune, but as for their fortunes nowadays, they were weren’t worth a nickel!
Well, if I had a back catalogue like either, count me a has been!
As for Prince, his first top 40 in the UK was “1999”, released in 1982. While his last was from 1997, entitled “The Holy River” *. Only fifteen years! A slice of nice, easy listening with colours, which you can find below: