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A Never-Ending Beatlemania

By reklaw in Culture
Fri Apr 27, 2007 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: music, charts (all tags)
Music

If you tune in to the UK charts this weekend, you might be a bit surprised at the ten (or more!) Arctic Monkeys tracks in there. Likewise, sometime around the start of June, you might be even more surprised to find that the entire top ten consists of the Beatles.


Of course, that's assuming everything goes to plan, and the Beatles' back catalogue is released on iTunes on June 1st, the 40th anniversary of the release of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which seems likely now that both the Apple/Apple Records and back-royalties disputes have been settled once and for all.

Downloaded singles now outsell real ones by more than four to one in the UK [1], meaning that the chart has been almost entirely dominated by downloads since they were added to the chart on the 1st of January - all you have to do is compare the singles chart to the download chart to see that, er, they're pretty much the same.

But the big unintended consequence of the change is that the record companies can no longer forcibly delete - stop selling - a single, at least not without giving up its [legal] Internet sales forevermore. This means that if a band is popular enough, there's no limit to how many songs they can have in the chart. This weekend, it looks like every track from the Arctic Monkeys' new album Favourite Worst Nightmare [2] will make the top 200, maybe the top 75 - or maybe higher. This isn't because they're the most incredibly excellent band ever, but because there is simply no longer any way of deciding which songs will be in contention [3].

Look at Gnarls Barkley's Crazy ("Does that make me craaaaazy? I think you're craaa-aaa-zy. Maybe I'm craaa-aa-aaa-zy", and so on for months on end). That damn song spent nine weeks at number one, from 2nd April 2006 to 29th May. The only reason it left the chart is that it was pulled from sale: "We want people to remember the song fondly and not get sick of it. So, from Monday we will be deleting it."

After the rule change at the start of 2007, Crazy made it back into the chart, at number 30, and stuck around in the top 75 until 24th February. Without the blunt tool of deletion, the song would have done a Wet Wet Wet last year, and then some. It had survived in this alternate-universe top 40 for a full eight months - and only dropped 29 places! For added horror, consider that deletion was also the only reason Love is All Around finally dropped out after fifteen weeks at the top.

Since the Beatles' songs are some of the most popular in history, it's impossible to guess how long the Beatles could spend dominating our charts - it could be months, or even years. Bookies William Hill are offering 10/1 odds on an all-Beatles top ten before the end of the year, and pretty short odds of 5/2 on the number one being Hey Jude. "Na na na na-na-na naaaaaa, na-na-na naaaa, hey Jude...", and repeat for a year or so.

Adding downloads to the chart has done a lot to bring them in line with reality. Bands have started entering at the bottom and working their way up like they used to in the old days, instead of the number-one-or-bust mentality of recent years. But when a few mega-bands, new or old, can take over the chart, it's surely going to get really old, really fast.

[1] Don't shed any tears for the record companies - they were losing money on physical singles, with the only real reason for releases being either to promote an album or for prestige. Now that the market has moved to downloads, they're coining it in.

[2] Incidentally, it really is a good album. Seriously. Go get it from BitTorrent or something, you'll see.

[3] ZOMG LONG TAIL

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Poll
Your bet for next Beatles number one?
o 5/2 Hey Jude 18%
o 9/1 Yesterday 15%
o 10/1 Can't Buy Me Love 3%
o 10/1 Love Me Do 0%
o 10/1 She Loves You 0%
o 12/1 Help 3%
o 12/1 Hard Days Night 9%
o 14/1 I Want To Hold Your Hand 0%
o 14/1 Let It Be 6%
o 16/1 I Feel Fine 0%
o 16/1 Penny Lane 3%
o 16/1 Day Tripper 6%
o 33/1 Yellow Submarine 9%
o 50/1 Come Together 15%
o One that didn't fit here 12%

Votes: 33
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o settled once and for all
o [1]
o added to the chart
o singles chart
o download chart
o [2]
o or maybe higher
o [3]
o Crazy
o pulled from sale
o offering 10/1 odds
o [1] [2]
o [2] [2]
o [3] [2]
o Also by reklaw


Display: Sort:
A Never-Ending Beatlemania | 47 comments (33 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Poll needs more George (3.00 / 2) (#2)
by zenador on Sat Apr 28, 2007 at 02:11:25 AM EST

Taxman anyone?

Interesting point.... (none / 0) (#8)
by superdiva on Sat Apr 28, 2007 at 12:43:10 PM EST

Adding downloads to the chart has done a lot to bring them in line with reality. Bands have started entering at the bottom and working their way up like they used to in the old days, instead of the number-one-or-bust mentality of recent years. But when a few mega-bands, new or old, can take over the chart, it's surely going to get really old, really fast.

This aspect of downloads will be interesting to watch for me because obscure bands have more inexpensive means of promoting themselves like youtube and lastfm that nurture a hardcore fanbase then launch a good showing on the top charts.

As far as The Beatles, I predict that the song that has the more frothy Paul McCartney-stamped melody out of the Lennon-McCartney will be at the top, most likely, "Hey Jude".
_____________________________________________

Psych-E.org

What you'll see in the fringes (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by D Jade on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 03:05:05 AM EST

You'll see the more observant performers start to realise that they don't need to sell thousands of records to make a living. Artists and bands will focus more on developing a direct relationship with their audience through use of the internet. A greater focus on live shows will become essential and the use of the internet as a distribution medium will help these artists grow their career to a sustainable level.

At the moment, the big record companies have still got us thinking of recorded music as a product. It's not, and hasn't been for a long time. More than anything, a recording is a way of promoting an artist. The real money has always been in live performance. To put it into perspective, the US live music industry alone has am annual income two times greater than the global recording industry. Global publishing and licensing (commercial licensing to film, tv etc) is six times greater than the global recording industry.

When you take that into account you really start to see that, whether we buy a CD, MP3 or copy it from someone else, it hardly has an impact.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

Ongoing promotion doesn't hurt. (none / 0) (#11)
by sudogeek on Sat Apr 28, 2007 at 10:15:33 PM EST

We have Steve Jobs' sly hints about the Beatles catalog (perhaps this promotion is part of the Apple=Apple deal) and the Cirque du Soleil remix album.

How about a vote for a dark horse - "Within you without you" at 500/1.

There's a sucker born every minute, and you're an hour's worth.

the thing is (none / 1) (#14)
by thankyougustad on Sat Apr 28, 2007 at 10:35:40 PM EST

"the charts" have nothing to do with the music I hear. I don't know who the band. . . arctic monkeys (gay) is. I heard that Gnarls Barkley song a handful of times last summer. And I will never be bummed about hearing a Beatles song.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

Actually I think the drummer is straight (none / 0) (#17)
by spasticfraggle on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 03:23:06 AM EST

Just in case that bothers you.

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]
yeah I avoid straight drummers (none / 0) (#19)
by thankyougustad on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 11:33:24 AM EST



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
So it's only nondrumming gay monkeys you're into? (none / 0) (#30)
by spasticfraggle on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 05:44:19 AM EST

Nice. I only need to know for the kuri5tmas list. No need for details.

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]
i'm glad... (none / 1) (#23)
by reklaw on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 02:23:37 PM EST

... that you can control your music intake so well. I tend to find that whatever's in the charts gets played ceaselessly in shops, other people's cars, where I work, on TV, etc. Something staying at number one for weeks is enough for it to get dull even if you actively try to avoid chart music.
-
[ Parent ]
So I took your advice on the Arctic Monkeys CD (3.00 / 4) (#15)
by curien on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 02:37:05 AM EST

I downloaded it, and I listened to it, and I don't understand what the big fucking deal is. The album's OK I guess. I mean, I wouldn't switch stations if one of the songs came on the radio or get up to hit the skip button if it were in a mix CD, but the album is completely uninspired.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

--
Murder your babies. -- R Mutt

They're perfectly mediocre (none / 0) (#21)
by 4343 on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 12:48:39 PM EST

Perfect for most people, in other words.

K5: Yawn in 60 seconds --Liar
[ Parent ]
hmm (none / 1) (#22)
by reklaw on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 02:22:04 PM EST

I can see what you mean, in a way. I was a lot more into it for the first few listens than I am now... turns out it doesn't have that much staying power. But that first time, it's pretty great.
-
[ Parent ]
The Beatles suck. (2.50 / 6) (#18)
by shm on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 07:01:44 AM EST

That is all.


They made some good raw material for others (none / 0) (#27)
by 4343 on Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 07:12:52 PM EST

How about this ukulele version of While My Ukulele Gently Weeps, for instance? Of course, a guitar can never be as cool as an ukulele, and the Beatles were, as we all know, a guitar band.

K5: Yawn in 60 seconds --Liar
[ Parent ]
THANK YOU (none / 1) (#40)
by kneelconqueso on Wed May 02, 2007 at 04:09:14 PM EST

it seems like every time i say that everyone around me looks at me as if i've said something unholy.

seriously, what a horrible band.

[ Parent ]

Downloads are so low-res. (none / 0) (#29)
by jd on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 02:17:33 AM EST

The days of high quality music are dead, as far as recordings are concerned. Downloaded music may be convenient and can be exactly duplicated without error, but there was a reason why people dumped the wax cylinder of ancient times - it was crap. There seems little future for a modern version of it.

This isn't to say you couldn't make high-quality downloadable recordings. Hell, most modern PCs can handle 5.1 audio, and the top systems can handle 11.1. Top sound cards can produce 24-bit sound - none of this 16-bit crap from CDs - and have sufficient compute power to do the non-linear interpolation needed to eliminate some of the sudden stops CDs are subject to.

As for 44.1 KHz audio -- DACs can accurately generate waveforms at a thousand times that. This is not trivial - you can't produce accurate sounds with only two or three data points. The higher frequency sounds are less important, it's the quality of the waveforms at lower frequencies that make the biggest difference.

But all this comes at a cost. If each track now takes a hundred times the storage space, where are you going to keep it? You probably have a computer that can play such sound with a quality that would blow your socks off, but your iPod won't handle it. Your car's MP3 player - aside from needing to be retrofitted with an MP4 codec - wouldn't have space either.

Why should I care about being able to get less and pay more? (With lesser quality recordings, I'd need to pay for a higher-quality recording as well OR pay for a computer that can use wavelets to fill in the missing data. Neither option is cheap.)

The ability to trade over the Internet is great, but many have been deceived into thinking that the Internet alone cures all known ills and that by buying total crap over the Internet, it becomes holy and beyond question, no matter how bad it is and no matter how much more they end up paying.

The Internet is a wonderfully powerful medium. It is quite capable of delivering the very best. So why is everyone tolerating the very worst? Because someone said they had to? Because it's somehow fashionable to be a complete berk?

Because it's good enough. (none / 1) (#31)
by wiredog on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 07:40:58 AM EST

Mot of us don't listen to audio in a specially designed soundproof room with $bignum worth of audiophile equipment and the speakers perfectly placed in relation to the audiophile chair we sit in.

I listen to music while driving places in my car. Often with the windows down. AAC files from iTunes are plenty good enough for that application.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage
[ Parent ]

Not to mention file size... (none / 0) (#32)
by Mystery on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 02:51:18 PM EST

On top of the 'good enough' arguement is the cost of bandwidth arguement. It makes sense (even if its sort of stupid) to go for the smallest possible file size, with a format that has the widest range of listening. Be this the proprietary iTunes or Windows Media files or the normal MP3. Hell, I even like Ogg Vorbis... But because only like 5% of the internet even knows what a vorbis file is, much less how to open one, it's never going to be a standard.

The equation for it is (minimal bandwidth + maximum potential distribution) = the choice the companies will make.

If everyone started adopting Ogg, or Mp4, or even some strange little third party program as the most popular in music trends and started converting their own music over to it... the companies would follow suit. Especially in order to hold the audience's attention and seem like they are in the position of being your 'friend' by converting it for you, and offering it to 'make your life easier'.

The market drives the choices a company makes, with every trend being viewed as necessary to follow -just- to survive.
-------------------------
Failure is not an option -- It comes bundled with the software.
[ Parent ]

quality of waveforms? (none / 0) (#33)
by vqp on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 04:26:25 PM EST

"the quality of the waveforms at lower frequencies that make the biggest difference."

This is another way to say "more higher frequencies"

happiness = d(Reality - Expectations) / dt

[ Parent ]

Wait 10 years. Computing power is never the issue. (none / 0) (#34)
by Joe Sixpack on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 05:00:54 PM EST

/nt

---
[ MONKEY STEALS THE PEACH ]
[ Parent ]

So they died with the CD... (none / 1) (#35)
by D Jade on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 09:16:32 PM EST

... or was it vinyl or are you suggesting that those days were over as soon as recording began? If the quality of low frequency waveforms was what was most important, 44.1K is far more than adequate. An increase in the sampling rate would only increase the frequency range to the top end.

There are already plenty of high-quality recordings available for download in 16-bit 44.1K WAV format. However, if you're claiming that this medium has a lower sound quality than any analogue media then you're gravely mistaken. Lower dynamic range, high noise floors, degradation, crosstalk and expense all combine to make analogue technologies far less desirable than current (and future) digital media.

As for larger digital formats, they are unnecessary. The average user can barely tell the difference between a 24-bit 48K file and a 16-bit 44K file as it is. Even most professionals can only really notice a difference in a proper listening environment; an environment that does not exist in the domestic market and won't for a good decade to come at least.

Your troll fails it superbly given that you are using the very intarweb you've cursed to craft it. The internet is great as far as the music trade is concerned. It's empowered artists to take control over their work and I'd much rather welcome that than a return to this non-existent time of high quality music you say the recording industry's now leaving.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

Thank you + question (none / 1) (#37)
by Corwin06 on Tue May 01, 2007 at 02:48:06 PM EST

<quote>The average user can barely tell the difference between a 24-bit 48K file and a 16-bit 44K file as it is. Even most professionals can only really notice a difference in a proper listening environment; an environment that does not exist in the domestic market and won't for a good decade to come at least.</quote>

You mean there is a humanly audible difference between 24-bit 48KHz and 16-bit 44KHz?

My question is, does the ear discriminate that? I want to test in double-blind. Or to read the specs for the human ear as a sound sensor.

"and you sir, in an argument in a thread with a troll in a story no one is reading in a backwater website, you're a fucking genius
--circletimessquare
[ Parent ]
There is a difference (none / 0) (#38)
by D Jade on Wed May 02, 2007 at 01:13:38 AM EST

But like I said, it's barely noticeable in the most pristine of listening environments.

Basically, the bit-rate determines the dynamic range of the sound; the range between the loudest and softest sound volume. It works out as 6dB FS per bit. So 16-bit has a range of -96dB to 0dB FS and 24-bit has a range of -144dB to 0dB FS.

Dynamic range is not something an ear can discriminate so well. The reason for this is that our ears have a natural form of compression (of dynamic range) that takes place:
Think about watching television at 6pm (when the kitchen's firing, there's cars driving around outside, people talking etc) and listening to it once everyone's gone to bed at 11pm. I'd wager that almost always you'd have the volume at half the level that you did at 6pm and it would still sound just as loud, if not louder.

If the above example is familiar, then you can see how it can become difficult to distinguish between 16 and 24 bit.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

You seem to be confusing (3.00 / 2) (#41)
by daveybaby on Fri May 04, 2007 at 05:23:19 AM EST

bit rate and sample resolution. These are completely independent. Bit rate has no effect on dynamic range whatsover.

[ Parent ]
Lol what? (none / 0) (#42)
by D Jade on Fri May 04, 2007 at 06:55:11 AM EST

Bit-rate determines the DYNAMIC RANGE of a song.

Sample rate determines the FREQUENCY range of a song.

Maybe you should google before you make an ass of yourself next time matey... 3 just for laughs!

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

Okay try again (none / 0) (#43)
by daveybaby on Fri May 04, 2007 at 07:43:48 AM EST

bit rate = sample rate * sample depth / compression

16/24 bit sampling depth is not the bit rate. At least, it wasnt when i was designing ADCs. Maybe terminology has changed since then.


[ Parent ]

Lol what again? (none / 0) (#44)
by D Jade on Fri May 04, 2007 at 07:52:39 AM EST

bit rate = number of bits per sample
sample rate = number of samples per second

All sound engineering text books and references for software and hardware confirm this.

Sorry to rain on your parade. But the bit-rate determines the dynamic range of a sample and if you don't know that, you must have been designing ADC's in the late 70s.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

Early Eighties FWIW (none / 1) (#45)
by daveybaby on Fri May 04, 2007 at 08:17:19 AM EST

Who the fuck made the decision that bit rate == bit depth then? All i can say is that i general EE/DSP terms a rate is time domain, not amplitude domain.

Bit rate is (there's a clue in the name) the rate at which bits are generated.

The only time i've ever seen bit rate in any way tied to dynamic range is in the use of 1-bit tracking ADCs. In general ADCs only even mention bit rate when theyre ones with integrated buffers in that stream the data out over a serial link at a certain (you guessed it) bit rate.

Fucking sound engineers, always have to be different.

[ Parent ]

Just to make sure i wasnt going mad/senile (none / 0) (#46)
by daveybaby on Fri May 04, 2007 at 08:26:07 AM EST

I googled and couldnt find anything that referred to bit rate in the way youre talking about. Bit rate == bits per second.

I dont have the patience to go past the 2nd page, so provide some linkage please. Curious.

[ Parent ]

Well if you can't be bothered... (none / 0) (#47)
by D Jade on Fri May 04, 2007 at 09:33:12 AM EST

... then I most certainly am not going to do it for you.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]
that's not the way it's used in engineering (none / 0) (#48)
by Delirium on Sat May 05, 2007 at 06:46:45 PM EST

In the world of engineering, a rate is a time-domain quantity, usually measured in something-per-second. As you rightly point out, a sample rate is measured in samples per second, and similarly a bit rate is measured in bits per second.

Quite simply, a "bit rate", more often in digital contexts written "bitrate", and sometimes called the "data rate", is the rate at which bits are being sent or received. So, for example, the bit rate of uncompressed CD audio is about 1.4 Mbit/s: It has a sample rate of 44100 samples/s, a bit depth of 16 bits per sample, and two channels.

Your definition makes no sense, because it's not a rate of any sort, and I have never seen that usage in audio engineering, or any sort of engineering for that matter (and yes, I've published papers in that field).

[ Parent ]

Audiophiles... missing the point since the 1950's. (2.00 / 2) (#36)
by daveybaby on Tue May 01, 2007 at 06:23:10 AM EST

Tell me, which encoder and bitrate should i use to make my Bill Hicks CD sound funniest?

[ Parent ]
I think you missed a 'na' somewhere.. (2.00 / 2) (#39)
by DohnJoe on Wed May 02, 2007 at 08:16:06 AM EST

Na na na   na-na-na naaaaaa, na-na-na naaaa,
             ^
        (right there)

it ruined the article for me... :)

A Never-Ending Beatlemania | 47 comments (33 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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