Fuck music charts, they aren't to be believed
In a post-truth era, there’s more to be discovered than meets the eye.
It was playwright Steve Tesich who first coined the term “post-truth” in his critical assessment of the Iran-Contra scandal. At least in its current form. Or maybe it was author Ralph Keys. Oprah. George Costanza. You know what, it really doesn’t matter.
Over the past couple of years, the phrase has been used widely to describe the world’s current affairs in the political arena — left and right targeting emotions of their base rather than meddling with silly distractions like facts. Predictably, the trend devours more than government. It’s seeped into every aspect of the modern era.
Music isn’t immune to it; in fact there have been blips of dishonesty through decades. Black people are the reason whites made so much money in rock and roll. John Lennon was a colossal dick. Radio airplay has always been about lining major labels’ pockets. Remember Milli Vanilli? Hell, your favorite artists don’t stream near as much as you’re told. It’s a fake it even we’ve you’ve made it economy.
Society moves at an unprecedented pace. To stay relevant in the game, the industry needs to prop up artists, constantly. Yet every fire needs its spark, manufactured or not. Take Tidal for instance, Jay Z’s flop of a streaming service that got caught inflating Kanye West and Beyoncé’s album numbers last year. Or that video loop YouTube trick Post Malone pulled on “Rockstar” to push the single to #1 on the charts.
You really think VIEWS was a “historical album” like the media said? Drake’s numbers might have been there, but Stereogum’s Michael Nelson did a great job of showing just how dishonest streaming services (namely Apple) were being at the time in one of his articles. Allegedly.
Fuck charts though. They aren’t to be believed, if they ever were. Billboard thinks Imagine Dragons is the hottest thing this side of the Dixie while still completely ignoring independent hip-hop and its pointed social strata. YouTube apps still play videos, shuffling only through major artists, even when phones are turned completely off. Discrepancies like these show payola and playlist placement can and do provide massive boosts to otherwise mediocre artists.
It’s smoke and mirrors on steroids.
But for how long can stars be held high on a notion of nothing? The truth waits just over the bend, it’ll find a way to come out of the shadows eventually. Just ask R. Kelly.
And let’s not forget, this time last year the New York Times revealed many of your favorite celebrities were (and still are) buying fake followers. The fallout? *yawn* Everyone under the age of 30 knows.
The moral of the story here is pay closer attention to the easy narrative. Or better yet, ignore it completely. Music rises above the noise, and as the heavy players fight in one corner, it leaves three others just waiting to be discovered.