I've also been told I have little tact, so if this offends you simply ride on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gold Standard

A few days ago I was slightly chastised for getting two song titles wrong in a piece I'd written about musical artists who have failed to create a standard.  Aw, well, that's life, I'm not perfect.  Rather the mute, or nullify my point, my error did more to emphasize the fact that the songs are... forgettable.  It's a bit embarrassing about the Elton John song, since I've seen him in concert 4 times and he's played that one song each time.  However, we do forget.  This is what time does.  We either forget it or remember it.  This is how standards are created.  For those who don't know what a standard is, Webster defines it as "a musical piece of sufficiently enduring popularity to be made part of a permanent repertoire."  

Anyway, since I get to talk to quite a number of people every day, I decided to do a little survey.  From a list of several artists (Prince, Elton John, Madonna, Billy Joel, and Bon Jovi), I asked 72 people which song they remembered the most. Seventeen people said they couldn't think of a single song. Bad news for Billy Joel - he didn't get any votes.  Prince got 2 for "Little Red Corvette."  Bon Jovi got 8 for "Living on a Prayer." (?)  Madonna got 14 votes for 3 different songs, "Like a Virgin," was her number one vote getter with 7.  Elton John got the most votes with 48, however that's misleading.  Nine people voted for "The Circle of Life," but 35 more just voted for "The Lion King," which is a movie.  That's right, if you just count song titles, Madonna beats Elton John by one.  Does that mean one of her songs is going to be a standard?  Of course, the answer is no. I suspect having your song attached to a hit movie, and a Disney movie to be more precise, increases the probability.

In fact, thinking back on all the popular music written, there probably is only one true standard and that was song by a teenage girl a long time ago in a little movie called "The Wizard of Oz."

So, I'm wondering if anything out there can ever even compete with this?  Or did Judy Garland set the all time gold standard?    I suspect we'll have to wait 75 years and see how well that song from Frozen does.

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