Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

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Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by keater » Tue May 19, 2020 3:18 pm

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/musi ... es-990470/

100
Billy Ray Cyrus, “Achy Breaky Heart”
99
The Zombies, “She’s Not There”
98
Kesha, “Tik Tok”
97
The New Pornographers, “Letter From an Occupant”
96
Alabama Shakes, “Hold On”
95
Dire Straits, “Sultans of Swing”
94
Dinosaur Jr., “Repulsion”
93
Tracy Chapman, “Fast Car”
92
Roxy Music, “Virginia Plain”
91
Roxanne Shanté, “Roxanne’s Revenge”
90
The Weather Girls, “It’s Raining Men”
89
Destiny’s Child, “No No No“
88
Pink Floyd, “Arnold Layne”
87
Duran Duran, “Planet Earth”
86
Public Image Ltd., “Public Image”
85
Weezer, “Undone — The Sweater Song”
84
Jackson Browne, “Doctor My Eyes”
83
The Raincoats, “Fairytale in the Supermarket”
82
Mudhoney, “Touch Me I’m Sick”
81
M.I.A., “Galang”
80
New Edition, “Candy Girl”
79
Archers of Loaf, “Web in Front”
78
Rihanna, “Pon de Replay”
77
Bo Diddley, “Bo Diddley”
76
Sade, “Your Love Is King”
75
Toto, “Hold the Line”
74
Pet Shop Boys, “West End Girls”
73
Pylon, “Cool”
72
Pere Ubu, “Heart of Darkness”
71
Nas, “Halftime”
70
The Grateful Dead, “Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)”
69
Boogie Down Productions, “South Bronx”
68
A Tribe Called Quest, “Description of a Fool”
67
Gang of Four, “Damaged Goods”
66
Billie Eilish, “Ocean Eyes”
65
Maren Morris, “My Church”
64
Mission of Burma, “Academy Fight Song”
63
Lana Del Rey, “Video Games”
62
Aerosmith, “Dream On”
61
De La Soul, “Plug Tunin’ ”
60
Bauhaus, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”
59
Television, “Little Johnny Jewel”
58
Metallica, “Whiplash”
57
Spoonie Gee, “Spoonin’ Rap”
56
Hanson, “MMMBop”
55
Boston, “More Than a Feeling”
54
The Monkees, “Last Train to Clarksville”
53
Alicia Keys, “Fallin’ ”
52
Booker T and the MGs, “Green Onions”
51
Aaliyah, “Back and Forth”
50
The Knack, “My Sharona”
49
LL Cool J, “I Need a Beat”
48
Patti Smith, “Hey Joe” / “Piss Factory”
47
Eric B and Rakim, “Eric B Is President”
46
X-Ray Spex, “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!”
45
LCD Soundsystem, “Losing My Edge”
44
The Replacements, “I’m in Trouble” / “If Only You Were Lonely”
43
Madonna, “Everybody”
42
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Hey Joe”
41
Joy Division, “Digital”
40
Blondie, “X Offender”
39
Black Flag, “Nervous Breakdown”
38
One Direction, “What Makes You Beautiful”
37
Wu-Tang Clan, “Protect Ya Neck”
36
The Eagles, “Take It Easy”
35
Frank Ocean, “Novacane”
34
D’Angelo, “Brown Sugar”
33
Pearl Jam, “Alive”
32
The Go-Go’s, “Our Lips Are Sealed”
31
Prince, “Soft and Wet”
30
Chic, “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)”
29
Lorde, “Royals”
28
The Doors, “Break on Through (to the Other Side)”
27
Oasis, “Supersonic”
26
New Order, “Ceremony”
25
Credence Clearwater Revival, “Suzie Q”
24
Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”
23
Buddy Holly and the Crickets, “That’ll Be the Day”
22
Otis Redding, “These Arms of Mine”
21
The Beatles, “Love Me Do”
20
Kate Bush, “Wuthering Heights”
19
Depeche Mode, “Dreaming of Me”
18
The Box Tops, “The Letter”
17
Outkast, “Player’s Ball”
16
Radiohead, “Creep”
15
The B-52’s, “Rock Lobster”
14
Kanye West, “Through the Wire”
13
The Clash, “White Riot”
12
Lil Nas X, “Old Town Road”
11
Taylor Swift, “Tim McGraw”
10
The Smiths, “Hand in Glove”
9
The Ramones, “Blitzkrieg Bop”
8
Elvis Presley, “That’s All Right”
7
Led Zeppelin, “Good Times Bad Times”
6
R.E.M., “Radio Free Europe”
5
Chuck Berry, “Maybellene”
4
Run-DMC, “Sucker M.C.’s/It’s Like That”
3
The Sex Pistols, “Anarchy in the U.K.”
2
The Jackson 5, “I Want You Back”
1
Britney Spears, “…Baby One More Time”

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Holden » Tue May 19, 2020 4:17 pm

That’s a solid top ten and then you get to number one and I couldn’t help but think that they put Baby One More Time at 1 but Losing My Edge at 45
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Schüttelbirne » Tue May 19, 2020 5:04 pm

Only artists with English lyrics have debut singles. The others just jump that and start with the follow-up single.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by cregis » Wed May 20, 2020 5:05 am

Holden wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 4:17 pm
That’s a solid top ten and then you get to number one and I couldn’t help but think that they put Baby One More Time at 1 but Losing My Edge at 45
Genuinely curious where you think it should be. It’s a hard debut to top. I do think some songs are underrated here, including Losing My Edge, West End Girls, and That’ll Be The Day.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Holden » Wed May 20, 2020 5:12 am

cregis wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 5:05 am
Holden wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 4:17 pm
That’s a solid top ten and then you get to number one and I couldn’t help but think that they put Baby One More Time at 1 but Losing My Edge at 45
Genuinely curious where you think it should be. It’s a hard debut to top. I do think some songs are underrated here, including Losing My Edge, West End Girls, and That’ll Be The Day.
I’d say top 20, mainly compared to some of the other songs on this list. I don’t dislike Old Town Road, but I do think Losing My Edge should be above it. I do assume that most people, at least on this forum, would agree with my assessment that Losing My Edge is better than ...Baby One More Time. It’s even got the importance to back it up, influence-wise: it launched James Murphy, who has become one of the most important figures in his genre of music throughout the 21st Century, from his four albums that are probably the best run of four albums from the 21st century (Offer alternatives to this is you’d like I’m curious) to his production, from producing an Arcade Fire album (another candidate for that run of four but Neon Bible holds that one back in my opinion) to his featuring on the current #3 EOD album, Blackstar as a percussionist. That went longer than expected, but in summary I’d say it belongs in at least the top twenty best debut singles of all time.
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Arsalan » Wed May 20, 2020 9:38 am

No one step closer?
Oh critics do not like them.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by keater » Wed May 20, 2020 11:50 am

Britney Spears is also one of the most influential music figures of the 21st Century, though.

In fact, she was not only a catalyst for her beginning genre but is the prominent influence on modern commercial pop acts while simultaneously holding major influence on the "indie", critical darling Pop artists of today (Charli, Carly, Grimes, etc,.). Britney Spears changed music and music culture in the same way Nirvana did.

I'm not saying Losing My Edge didn't, but the reasoning behind the ranking is rather academic. BOMT has as good an argument as any song on the list.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by StevieFan13 » Wed May 20, 2020 2:03 pm

It’s weird that Fast Car is only #93 when on their 500 songs list it was in the top 200
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Harold » Wed May 20, 2020 2:10 pm

This is a fascinating list - it's like a perfect snapshot of how the music-critic canon has been changing over time, and even more specifically of how Rolling Stone has been trying to reposition itself as a curator of that canon. Before seeing this, could anyone have envisioned a greatest-debut-singles list from a magazine like Rolling Stone that doesn't include "I Can't Explain" or "Come On" (the Stones's first single - sorry, my initial post misremembered it as "Not Fade Away")"? Or that would place "Love Me Do" (an inevitable pick) outside of the top 20?

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by andyd1010 » Thu May 21, 2020 5:24 am

Holden wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 5:12 am
cregis wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 5:05 am
Holden wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 4:17 pm
That’s a solid top ten and then you get to number one and I couldn’t help but think that they put Baby One More Time at 1 but Losing My Edge at 45
Genuinely curious where you think it should be. It’s a hard debut to top. I do think some songs are underrated here, including Losing My Edge, West End Girls, and That’ll Be The Day.
I’d say top 20, mainly compared to some of the other songs on this list. I don’t dislike Old Town Road, but I do think Losing My Edge should be above it. I do assume that most people, at least on this forum, would agree with my assessment that Losing My Edge is better than ...Baby One More Time. It’s even got the importance to back it up, influence-wise: it launched James Murphy, who has become one of the most important figures in his genre of music throughout the 21st Century, from his four albums that are probably the best run of four albums from the 21st century (Offer alternatives to this is you’d like I’m curious) to his production, from producing an Arcade Fire album (another candidate for that run of four but Neon Bible holds that one back in my opinion) to his featuring on the current #3 EOD album, Blackstar as a percussionist. That went longer than expected, but in summary I’d say it belongs in at least the top twenty best debut singles of all time.
Well you probably could have guessed I’d vote for Arcade Fire there. Radiohead (Kid A through In Rainbows) and The National (Boxer through Sleep Well Beast) also belong in the discussion, and I’d put them ahead of LCD Soundsystem. I love Radiohead, The National, and LCD Soundsystem, but I prefer Neon Bible to any of the albums in any of those great runs. Every song is good, the album is cohesive, the three songs ranked on AM are astounding, and so is The Well and the Lighthouse, an overlooked gem with arpeggios throughout the second half that create maybe my favorite highlight in an album full of them. This wasn’t the case on first listen, but it’s now my 2nd-favorite album of the 21st century, only trailing Funeral.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by PlasticRam » Thu May 21, 2020 7:41 am

A good number-one pick IMO. It's iconic.
I feel like that

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Rob » Thu May 21, 2020 1:54 pm

keater wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:50 am
Britney Spears is also one of the most influential music figures of the 21st Century, though.

In fact, she was not only a catalyst for her beginning genre but is the prominent influence on modern commercial pop acts while simultaneously holding major influence on the "indie", critical darling Pop artists of today (Charli, Carly, Grimes, etc,.). Britney Spears changed music and music culture in the same way Nirvana did.
I'm sorry, but this is nonsense. Britney Spears is a watered down carbon copy of Madonna's style. ...Baby One More Time, while catchy and memorable, has zero innovation to it. It's a very typical song for a time for a very typical artist of it's moment. I really hope we are not seriously moving towards a world in which Britney Spears is suddenly viewed as a real artist instead of a sort of product created to fit with trends.

Having said that, as much as I love Losing My Edge, I feel that it's influence is rather niche.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by StevieFan13 » Thu May 21, 2020 2:14 pm

Rob wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 1:54 pm
keater wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:50 am
Britney Spears is also one of the most influential music figures of the 21st Century, though.

In fact, she was not only a catalyst for her beginning genre but is the prominent influence on modern commercial pop acts while simultaneously holding major influence on the "indie", critical darling Pop artists of today (Charli, Carly, Grimes, etc,.). Britney Spears changed music and music culture in the same way Nirvana did.
I'm sorry, but this is nonsense. Britney Spears is a watered down carbon copy of Madonna's style. ...Baby One More Time, while catchy and memorable, has zero innovation to it. It's a very typical song for a time for a very typical artist of it's moment. I really hope we are not seriously moving towards a world in which Britney Spears is suddenly viewed as a real artist instead of a sort of product created to fit with trends.

Having said that, as much as I love Losing My Edge, I feel that it's influence is rather niche.
Britney herself wasn’t the evolutionary step, I don’t think. Her prominence led to a different kind of perception of what expectations were for a major female pop star (unlike Madonna, who was very deliberate about stirring up controversy and being provocative, there was something a little more coy about how Britney portrayed herself...or, y’know, how sleazy record company people portrayed her), but the more important thing was that it made Max Martin a superstar and effectively set the tone for what pop music would sound like for the next two decades. I mean, it’s 2020 and Max Martin is still being called in by prominent pop artists and scoring hits, which you can’t say about many producers.
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by keater » Thu May 21, 2020 4:56 pm

Rob wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 1:54 pm
keater wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:50 am
Britney Spears is also one of the most influential music figures of the 21st Century, though.

In fact, she was not only a catalyst for her beginning genre but is the prominent influence on modern commercial pop acts while simultaneously holding major influence on the "indie", critical darling Pop artists of today (Charli, Carly, Grimes, etc,.). Britney Spears changed music and music culture in the same way Nirvana did.
I'm sorry, but this is nonsense. Britney Spears is a watered down carbon copy of Madonna's style. ...Baby One More Time, while catchy and memorable, has zero innovation to it. It's a very typical song for a time for a very typical artist of it's moment. I really hope we are not seriously moving towards a world in which Britney Spears is suddenly viewed as a real artist instead of a sort of product created to fit with trends.

Having said that, as much as I love Losing My Edge, I feel that it's influence is rather niche.
We're moving towards a world where we are not delusional enough to completely erase the impact Britney Spears' catalog has had on pop music long after her time at the top.

Max Martin... Is STILL dictating Pop trends. While he was making songs with Backstreet Boys prior to Britney, his work for her is what made a major dent in music.

BOMT is symbolic of all of this. I also wouldn't compare Britney to Madonna at all... Is that just because they're white & blonde?

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Cold Butterfly » Thu May 21, 2020 5:39 pm

"Protect Ya Neck" and "Royals" should be in the top five imo. Both singles completely changed popular music honestly.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by cregis » Thu May 21, 2020 5:43 pm

Rob wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 1:54 pm
keater wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:50 am
Britney Spears is also one of the most influential music figures of the 21st Century, though.

In fact, she was not only a catalyst for her beginning genre but is the prominent influence on modern commercial pop acts while simultaneously holding major influence on the "indie", critical darling Pop artists of today (Charli, Carly, Grimes, etc,.). Britney Spears changed music and music culture in the same way Nirvana did.
I'm sorry, but this is nonsense. Britney Spears is a watered down carbon copy of Madonna's style. ...Baby One More Time, while catchy and memorable, has zero innovation to it. It's a very typical song for a time for a very typical artist of it's moment. I really hope we are not seriously moving towards a world in which Britney Spears is suddenly viewed as a real artist instead of a sort of product created to fit with trends.

Having said that, as much as I love Losing My Edge, I feel that it's influence is rather niche.
I’d buckle up, because I think that is where the world is moving. And honestly, it probably should.

I don’t get this argument that Spears was somehow a “manufactured product” that could have been any other woman. If the industry could have just manufactured 30 more Britneys with the same level of success and influence, they would have. I also worry this is a narrative we use too often for female artists, hardly ever applying these critiques to men.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Rocky Raccoon » Thu May 21, 2020 6:56 pm

The bookends are kinda crap, at least in regards to that high of a placement, but a lot of good songs in between. Rob's mostly right about Britney Spears, she was basically like Debbie Gibson and Tiffany before her, just with better writing, production and marketing. The song itself is pretty good, but No. 1 debut of all time? What's happened to music critics? Where's Lester Bangs when you need him?

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Harold » Thu May 21, 2020 8:12 pm

Rocky Raccoon wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 6:56 pm
The bookends are kinda crap, at least in regards to that high of a placement, but a lot of good songs in between. Rob's mostly right about Britney Spears, she was basically like Debbie Gibson and Tiffany before her, just with better writing, production and marketing.
You know that Debbie Gibson wrote (and at least co-produced) all of her own material (at least at the beginning), right? That doesn't negate the point about "better writing" - most of Gibson's songs were just OK - but I'm old enough to remember what a big deal was made at the time about "this phenomenal 16-year old girl who's writing and producing all of her own songs!" In fact, the publicity about Gibson was extremely similar to what's happening now with Billie Eilish. Although they're obviously very different artists otherwise.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Monte » Thu May 21, 2020 8:52 pm

Every RS list is ruined by this Rob person. I don't know how they left a massive delusional britney stan become the magazine's most important contributor, so fucking annoying ! ugh
And britney is a dumb untalented bimbo who doesn't sing on her own albums, never sing live, not to mention her lip syncing to other people vocals in "live" shows, she looks like a zombie in a stage and can't even make a mediocre performance. Don't let me talk about her disastrous discography.
The prime example of white privilege getting a free-pass for having zero talent and being the worst label puppet ever, the biggest joke.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Harold » Thu May 21, 2020 9:37 pm

Monte wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:52 pm
And britney is a dumb untalented bimbo who doesn't sing on her own albums, never sing live, not to mention her lip syncing to other people vocals in "live" shows, she looks like a zombie in a stage and can't even make a mediocre performance. Don't let me talk about her disastrous discography.
The prime example of white privilege getting a free-pass for having zero talent and being the worst label puppet ever, the biggest joke.
But how do you really feel, Monte? It isn't clear.
:mrgreen:

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Cold Butterfly » Thu May 21, 2020 9:47 pm

cregis wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 5:43 pm
Rob wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 1:54 pm
keater wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:50 am
Britney Spears is also one of the most influential music figures of the 21st Century, though.

In fact, she was not only a catalyst for her beginning genre but is the prominent influence on modern commercial pop acts while simultaneously holding major influence on the "indie", critical darling Pop artists of today (Charli, Carly, Grimes, etc,.). Britney Spears changed music and music culture in the same way Nirvana did.
I'm sorry, but this is nonsense. Britney Spears is a watered down carbon copy of Madonna's style. ...Baby One More Time, while catchy and memorable, has zero innovation to it. It's a very typical song for a time for a very typical artist of it's moment. I really hope we are not seriously moving towards a world in which Britney Spears is suddenly viewed as a real artist instead of a sort of product created to fit with trends.

Having said that, as much as I love Losing My Edge, I feel that it's influence is rather niche.
I’d buckle up, because I think that is where the world is moving. And honestly, it probably should.

I don’t get this argument that Spears was somehow a “manufactured product” that could have been any other woman. If the industry could have just manufactured 30 more Britneys with the same level of success and influence, they would have. I also worry this is a narrative we use too often for female artists, hardly ever applying these critiques to men.
100% agree with this. Every time I hear the “industry plant” argument used against a musician, the musician is usually female. According to this “manufactured artist” logic then Pearl Jam are just as much puppets as Britney Spears is. But you’ll never hear the term used about a male artist. I honestly think the whole “industry plant” argument in music is rooted in sexism and lack of understanding of female artists. The argument in it’s entirety is ridiculous.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Jimoincolor » Thu May 21, 2020 9:54 pm

Britney is much more similar to Janet’s style than Madonna’s. Compare both artists performances & dance moves and see what I’m saying.

That said, her baby voice is iconic.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Rocky Raccoon » Thu May 21, 2020 10:43 pm

Cold Butterfly wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:47 pm
cregis wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 5:43 pm
Rob wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 1:54 pm


I'm sorry, but this is nonsense. Britney Spears is a watered down carbon copy of Madonna's style. ...Baby One More Time, while catchy and memorable, has zero innovation to it. It's a very typical song for a time for a very typical artist of it's moment. I really hope we are not seriously moving towards a world in which Britney Spears is suddenly viewed as a real artist instead of a sort of product created to fit with trends.

Having said that, as much as I love Losing My Edge, I feel that it's influence is rather niche.
I’d buckle up, because I think that is where the world is moving. And honestly, it probably should.

I don’t get this argument that Spears was somehow a “manufactured product” that could have been any other woman. If the industry could have just manufactured 30 more Britneys with the same level of success and influence, they would have. I also worry this is a narrative we use too often for female artists, hardly ever applying these critiques to men.
100% agree with this. Every time I hear the “industry plant” argument used against a musician, the musician is usually female. According to this “manufactured artist” logic then Pearl Jam are just as much puppets as Britney Spears is. But you’ll never hear the term used about a male artist. I honestly think the whole “industry plant” argument in music is rooted in sexism and lack of understanding of female artists. The argument in it’s entirety is ridiculous.
I don't know, I hear this same critique of "manufactured product" just as much about boy bands going back as far as New Kids on the Block. Unless I'm mistaken, BOY bands feature all male members.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Cold Butterfly » Thu May 21, 2020 10:59 pm

Rocky Raccoon wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:43 pm
Cold Butterfly wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:47 pm
cregis wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 5:43 pm


I’d buckle up, because I think that is where the world is moving. And honestly, it probably should.

I don’t get this argument that Spears was somehow a “manufactured product” that could have been any other woman. If the industry could have just manufactured 30 more Britneys with the same level of success and influence, they would have. I also worry this is a narrative we use too often for female artists, hardly ever applying these critiques to men.
100% agree with this. Every time I hear the “industry plant” argument used against a musician, the musician is usually female. According to this “manufactured artist” logic then Pearl Jam are just as much puppets as Britney Spears is. But you’ll never hear the term used about a male artist. I honestly think the whole “industry plant” argument in music is rooted in sexism and lack of understanding of female artists. The argument in it’s entirety is ridiculous.
I don't know, I hear this same critique of "manufactured product" just as much about boy bands going back as far as New Kids on the Block. Unless I'm mistaken, BOY bands feature all male members.
Maybe so, but I rarely hear it used for male musicians. Especially in this era.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by cregis » Fri May 22, 2020 12:00 am

Rocky Raccoon wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:43 pm
Cold Butterfly wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:47 pm
cregis wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 5:43 pm


I’d buckle up, because I think that is where the world is moving. And honestly, it probably should.

I don’t get this argument that Spears was somehow a “manufactured product” that could have been any other woman. If the industry could have just manufactured 30 more Britneys with the same level of success and influence, they would have. I also worry this is a narrative we use too often for female artists, hardly ever applying these critiques to men.
100% agree with this. Every time I hear the “industry plant” argument used against a musician, the musician is usually female. According to this “manufactured artist” logic then Pearl Jam are just as much puppets as Britney Spears is. But you’ll never hear the term used about a male artist. I honestly think the whole “industry plant” argument in music is rooted in sexism and lack of understanding of female artists. The argument in it’s entirety is ridiculous.
I don't know, I hear this same critique of "manufactured product" just as much about boy bands going back as far as New Kids on the Block. Unless I'm mistaken, BOY bands feature all male members.
“I Want It That Way” shows up on several lists on this forum, but I’ve not seen the same kind of indignation in the comments. Especially with fun terms like “untalented bimbo” that can be seen above.

Not saying it never happens. Just that people are much quicker to put women in that category.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by JR » Fri May 22, 2020 12:56 am

Britney Spears isn't regarded as one of the great artists of all time- though "...Baby..." was very impactful, and, is one of two notably acclaimed singles in her career. The song's also the epitome of the Max Martin sound at the time.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Elder » Fri May 22, 2020 2:57 am

... Baby One More Time is excellent
I think that all this indignation occurs only because music occupies number 1 on the list, normally these lists although they included several music genres, the top will always have some "Like a Rolling Stone". So we have a broken pattern

It is an empty argument to say that Britney is not worthy of recognition for not surpassing Madonna, following this line of reasoning The Kinks / The Zombies are nothing but poorly executed versions of the Beatles.

...BOMT It's a Pop song as good as The Supremes' songs.
And yes today Britney is no longer a great artist, but that does not cancel out her past, she was an excellent performer and for the type of music that she intends to do (POP) the way she sings can be even more interesting than some screams from artists like C. Aguilera.



Lastly...
Yes Losing My Edge deserved much more, it is a song far superior to Radio Free Europe.
Love Me Do is like anything ever done
Losing My Edge

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by PlasticRam » Fri May 22, 2020 6:59 am

I've heard the industry plant argument used against Chance the Rapper.
I feel like that

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by keater » Fri May 22, 2020 6:24 pm

Britney Spears brings out the worst in people, calling her a "bimbo", really?

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Nick » Fri May 22, 2020 7:51 pm

"...Baby One More Time" is a fantastic song. Not my personal pick for "greatest debut single ever", but it's hard to argue against it.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Holden » Fri May 22, 2020 8:17 pm

I see the term “industry product” being thrown around a lot above and I’d like to sort of throw in my two cents. For me, I really don’t care whether or not a song IS an industry product, just if it sounds like one to me. So if a song sounds unoriginal and like everything else on the radio, doesn’t really matter if it was made by a singer songwriter who self produced their album in a garage or a set of industry heads trying to make another millions dollars, it still sounds Like an industry product to me and I don’t like it. Baby One More Time falls into that category for me. Of course if someone else likes it, more power to them.
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by StevieFan13 » Fri May 22, 2020 8:54 pm

Monte wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:52 pm
Every RS list is ruined by this Rob person. I don't know how they left a massive delusional britney stan become the magazine's most important contributor, so fucking annoying ! ugh
And britney is a dumb untalented bimbo who doesn't sing on her own albums, never sing live, not to mention her lip syncing to other people vocals in "live" shows, she looks like a zombie in a stage and can't even make a mediocre performance. Don't let me talk about her disastrous discography.
The prime example of white privilege getting a free-pass for having zero talent and being the worst label puppet ever, the biggest joke.
I'd rather have a music critic who isn't afraid to rep for modern pop music as opposed to relentlessly stanning the same handful of classic rock acts or, I dunno, unnecessarily name-calling.
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by StevieFan13 » Fri May 22, 2020 9:04 pm

keater wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 3:18 pm

99
The Zombies, “She’s Not There” (#297)

93
Tracy Chapman, “Fast Car” (#167)

77
Bo Diddley, “Bo Diddley” (#62)

62
Aerosmith, “Dream On” (#173)

52
Booker T and the MGs, “Green Onions” (#183)

42
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Hey Joe” (#201)

23
Buddy Holly and the Crickets, “That’ll Be the Day” (#39)

15
The B-52’s, “Rock Lobster” (#147)

9
The Ramones, “Blitzkrieg Bop” (#92)

8
Elvis Presley, “That’s All Right” (#113)

6
R.E.M., “Radio Free Europe” (#389)

5
Chuck Berry, “Maybellene” (#18)

3
The Sex Pistols, “Anarchy in the U.K.” (#56)

2
The Jackson 5, “I Want You Back” (#121)
Just to show how tastes have changed at RS over the years, these are all the songs that also made their 500 Greatest Songs list and how they placed there.
Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand - Sir Duke (1976)

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Rob » Fri May 22, 2020 9:09 pm

Alright, a lot of reactions after mine, many as a direct response and I thought to expand on my thoughts. Instead of reacting to everyone one by one, I take a more general approach. It became a little long, so I added some headlines for people who just want to skip to parts they find interesting.

On producers as the main creative force
I think that first of all it is important to note that for every song there can be two driving forces: the performing artist or the producer. This a simplification and much great music is made when a great producer and a great artist find common ground and create something beautiful. Still, in a lot of works we see that the creative force of the performing artist is clearly the element that guides the way the music is shaped. This tends to be the music I connect to the most, I have noticed. In other cases it is the producer who holds the main vision and who is most responsible for the end product. You see this a lot in pop.

To take a more historic example we have to go to Phil Spector. He has performed himself now and then, but that is not what he is mainly known for. He became a legend because of the vision that created the famous wall of sound that was most successfully used in girl groups in the early sixties. Regardless of the great vocal abilities of the members of The Ronettes or The Crystals, the success of these songs is first and foremost attributed to Spector. Over the years some producers, especially in pop, have basically used artists to fit into their envisioned mold. Something like that can’t be achieved with an artist who has too strong a vision and personality of his or her own.

One reason why this approach works so well in pop is because pop tends to be more commercially minded, to be more into following trends. This is not necessarily a problem; some very memorable songs have been made that way, but they were not particularly innovative. Music production studios prefer to work with producers with a strong feeling for trends and a respect for commercial viability. Producers like this know how to shape a song in a way that is familiar yet fresh enough and they tend to work with artists who either aren’t too assertive or otherwise not capable enough to make their own material (not everyone who can sing well can write a song).

On the Max Martin/ Britney Spears collaboration
Enter Max Martin, a guy with an instinctive understanding of how pop works. His strength is not in innovation, but actually the opposite: he knows what has worked in the past and how to bring it to the present. All his songs are extremely conventional, but expertly put together. He seems to have a good ear for hooks too. And with a few exceptions, like Taylor Swift, he tends to work with artists that are not too assertive and don’t seem to have too much to say.

Enter Britney Spears. I know little about her from an artist point of view. I have no clue what motivates her, what brought her to the music industry. I don’t know what her talents are. But that is telling. She was one of the biggest stars when I was a teenager and my little sister used to play her debut album regularly. In general, I heard her work from that time a lot. Still, despite that I know nothing of Britney Spears’ inner world. There is a lot of tabloid stuff, but not something that comes from the inside of miss Spears, as her songs reveal nothing. You don’t need autobiographical songs for this. David Bowie eschewed such stuff and reveled in role play, but in the process revealed a personality that words perhaps could not describe. Some artists chose a mystique, others remain extremely private, yet all reveal something in their music.

With Britney Spears we come up empty, because everything seems to be controlled by outside forces. Her earlier hits at least where completely Max Martin. Her limitations were quickly exposed: she couldn’t sing live on stage and when a song suddenly rested on her vocals, like on Everytime, you could hear she was a weak singer with no range. Maybe there was more to her, but since then she never seems to have developed her skills further. The real Britney Spears has remain hidden, as far as I know. Not in tabloids, but in her music.

Therefore, stating that it is “delusional” to deny Britney Spears has changed music history is in a way a falsehood. Because Britney Spears is not the main creative force behind her songs (or at least the hits) she can not have changed music history. There is no doubt in my mind if Spears had not existed another girl would have been found and the same songs would have been made.

However, this does not mean I think Max Martin has changed music history. I think he did the opposite: he extended the status quo. As I already said, Martin’s strength is in understanding the conventions of the pop song and using them to create new hits. He doesn’t try anything new and therefore can not change history, as nothing can change without, well, change. It is commendable that he has been at it for so long, as trend-followers usually have a quick expiry date, but adaptability is not the same innovation.

On the Madonna connection
The connection with Madonna to me is important in this story. Although I have little love for her work myself it can’t be denied that she provided a watershed moment in music. Here was a woman in popular music that despite all of her collaborators kept in complete control of both her image and music. She took the pop formula and molded it into her vision, instead of being molded by it. At first she seemed a typical sexy, blonde archetype, but slowly yet surely subverted it. Britney Spears never went that far, but she did learn from that early, sexy blonde part. I don’t mean that demeaning, but more observational as a type of role an artist can chose to play. Madonna took this role and reveled in it in quite a few of her greatest hits. Take for example Like a Virgin, Material Girl or Who’s That Girl? Or even that documentary title: In Bed With Madonna. She was not afraid to use her image - blonde, girlish, outspoken sexual, yet mostly a tease – for her own motives.

There is no doubt in my mind that Madonna would have loved to have …Baby One More Time or Oops!... I Did It Again in her repertoire. These are extensions of Madonna’s hits and I would not be surprised if Max Martin took Madonna’s biggest hits with him as homework material before kickstarting Britney Spears’ career. Their approach to music, lyrics and production feels the same to me. But whereas Madonna went on to deepen and even subvert the image she created in those songs, Max Martin and Britney Spears stuck to that same surface, as artistic exploration is not their game. Also, it would be weird to deny the link between Madonna and Britney Spears as Spears has made no secret about how she idolizes the former. It might be the sole reason she wanted to perform and what made sure she eventually crossed paths with Martin. It even may be the only insight we’ll ever get into what truly motivates Spears. I’m not aware of what Spears thinks of Janet Jackson, but considering she is a contemporary of Madonna exploring similar themes and to a lesser extent musical modes it would not surprise me if Spears loved her too.

On issues of sexism
Another issue arose in this topic about the marginalized reception of women. I hope that this was not aimed specifically at me, as I listen to perhaps more female-led music these days than male and have written extensively and favorably about many of them here, including two large topics in praise of Lana Del Rey and Aldous Harding. I think there is some truth that women face a tougher time in being appreciated in general, although that seems to be getting better with each year, no less because the women are being rather awesome right now.

I think it is important to note here though that women have had a rather marginalized role in music until relatively recent. Not because they didn’t have the talent, but because they were not allowed to follow those talents. Relatively few women were allowed to write their own music or even decide their own image. The sixties and seventies are the revolutionary rock decades, but notice how little they had to do with women, unless under the direct control of men (like Phil Spector’s girl groups or Tina Turner until the eighties). Many of the strongest female voices of the time either weren’t really rock (Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez belonged to the more female-friendly folk scene and Nina Simone belonged to no genre in particular) or were true outsiders (Patti Smith and Kate Bush for example). The only two female names of these two decades that fit into the popular fold and remained with most of their individuality intact are Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin. Aretha Franklin preceded Madonna in subverting expectations and existing models in a mode that was deeply personal yet commercially viable, whereas Joplin mostly played other people’s music with such unique power that it couldn’t be denied. I also need to do a shout-out to a couple of women in pre-sixties blues like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Big Mama Thornton. There weren’t many of them, but damn did they make a stamp.

From the eighties on there was some progress in allowing women more freedom, but it was slow going and I think it became only big in the 2000’s and finally exploded in the 2010’s. I think the talent was always there, but not the means to prove it and there lies the most damning form of sexism in music. But now we have an awesome list of female artists from the current century that goes on and on: (in no particular order) Joanne Newsom, Beyoncé, Solange, Fiona Apple, Janelle Monáe, Björk, Christine & the Queens, Adele, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Robyn, Lorde, Laura Marling, Lana Del Rey, Angel Olsen, PJ Harvey, Sleater-Kinney, Lizzo, Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Mitski, Karin Dreijer, St. Vincent, Sharon van Etten, Weyes Blood, Jenny Hval, Grimes, Kacey Musgraves, Anna Meredith, Julia Holter, Courtney Barnett, Torres, Bat for Lashes, M.I.A. Noname, FKA Twigs, Soccer Mommy, Sophie, Charlie XCX, Carly Rea Jepsen, Lil Simz, Neko Case, Cat Power, Snail Mail, Waxahatchee, Dua Lipa, Cardi B., Amy Winehouse, Lilly Allen, Kate Tempest, Rosalía, Haim, Jessie Ware, First Aid Kit, Tegan and Sera… And that’s limiting myself to just the names I can mention from the top of my head, without further research, but there are certainly more. And from many genres too, including pop, with only hip-hop underperforming still a little, but even that is changing. All of them seem to be in control of their own careers to an important degree. And that’s even leaving out bands with both male and female members (Arcade Fire, Beach House, The xx).

I don’t think Britney Spears belongs in this group. As dangerous as the following statement may be to make, I’m going to make it: Britney Spears does not possess an artistic personality or creativity that comes close to any of the above and no sales in the world can change that. Besides she is a remnant from the time when studios/ producers molded the image of the pop singer, which was still going strong in the late 90’s and early 00’s. In that way, Britney Spears herself was an example of the sexist attitude of mainstream music, although I can’t say if she would have achieved fame without it.

Also, Rocky Raccoon is right in saying that the “manufactured products” argument is not only aimed at women. It has indeed been there for boys, including Max Martin’s own Backstreet Boys, but also earlier examples like Duran Duran, A-ha and even The Beatles in their early days! And Elvis certainly! The thing is, if you are pretty and successful, some people will not take you seriously. This also happens a lot to handsome actors and actresses by the way. Some people don’t trust the beautiful ones. That doesn’t mean that sexism isn’t at play at times, but it is not the only factor.

On “manufactured artists”
Also, music as a “manufactured product” is a thing. It is naïve not to think so. When something becomes popular, many want in it for the money and there are artists ready to go along with it, especially artists who have the will to become a musician but not the know-how. Or those that just want to become a star or rich. Who belongs to this group and who doesn’t will always be up to debate, except when you are Milli Vanilli. Nonetheless, if a "manufactured product" sounds good – and certainly they sometimes do – I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t enjoy it.

On revolutions in music history
This is getting long-winded and there is more to say, but I think there is one thing I want to end on: the strange relation music appreciation seems to hold with the revolutionary. It has long since seemed to me that music lovers, including many professional critics, dare only to declare their devotion to an artist if they can claim that the artist in question changed musical history forever. I noticed this first about ten years ago and if you start to actively look for it you’ll find it everywhere. Every artist with even a small following seems to have changed the world forever. It’s almost as if you are not allowed to like them if you don’t think they did. My background is foremost in film and to a lesser extent literature and this line of reasoning is far, far less prevalent there. In those cases the merit of an artist is based on the quality of the work and there is no expectation that every new movie or book is yet another sea change. Precious few artists or works can achieve such a thing and if they do it is more evolution than revolution.

I suspect that the obsession with music fans with revolution comes from the sixties, when music for a little while seemed tied with big societal and intellectual changes. It made it seem that rock was deeply important in a way no music before was and perhaps with that in mind later styles had to defend themselves from seeming minor in comparison. All this insistence on revolution or even its minor cousin influence seems rather silly to me. What’s most important is the quality of the work itself and our affection for it. My favorite album of the 2010’s is Laura Marling’s I Speak Because I Can and it is a very traditional folk album, but beautifully performed and something I relate too deeply. I think it is perfectly fine to love …Baby One More Time more than Like a Rolling Stone, but you don’t need big statements to back it up. I don’t think Spears’ debut made an ounce of difference in the development of music, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t succeed as a pop single.

Finally, I had Take That’s album Progress on while writing much of this. There is some irony there somewhere.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by StevieFan13 » Fri May 22, 2020 9:31 pm

Well-said, Rob. I don't think the sexism accusation was as much toward you as it was toward Monte calling her a bimbo.
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Cold Butterfly » Fri May 22, 2020 10:42 pm

Rob wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:09 pm
.
On issues of sexism
Another issue arose in this topic about the marginalized reception of women. I hope that this was not aimed specifically at me, as I listen to perhaps more female-led music these days than male and have written extensively and favorably about many of them here, including two large topics in praise of Lana Del Rey and Aldous Harding. I think there is some truth that women face a tougher time in being appreciated in general, although that seems to be getting better with each year, no less because the women are being rather awesome right now.

I think it is important to note here though that women have had a rather marginalized role in music until relatively recent. Not because they didn’t have the talent, but because they were not allowed to follow those talents. Relatively few women were allowed to write their own music or even decide their own image. The sixties and seventies are the revolutionary rock decades, but notice how little they had to do with women, unless under the direct control of men (like Phil Spector’s girl groups or Tina Turner until the eighties). Many of the strongest female voices of the time either weren’t really rock (Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez belonged to the more female-friendly folk scene and Nina Simone belonged to no genre in particular) or were true outsiders (Patti Smith and Kate Bush for example). The only two female names of these two decades that fit into the popular fold and remained with most of their individuality intact are Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin. Aretha Franklin preceded Madonna in subverting expectations and existing models in a mode that was deeply personal yet commercially viable, whereas Joplin mostly played other people’s music with such unique power that it couldn’t be denied. I also need to do a shout-out to a couple of women in pre-sixties blues like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Big Mama Thornton. There weren’t many of them, but damn did they make a stamp.

From the eighties on there was some progress in allowing women more freedom, but it was slow going and I think it became only big in the 2000’s and finally exploded in the 2010’s. I think the talent was always there, but not the means to prove it and there lies the most damning form of sexism in music. But now we have an awesome list of female artists from the current century that goes on and on: (in no particular order) Joanne Newsom, Beyoncé, Solange, Fiona Apple, Janelle Monáe, Björk, Christine & the Queens, Adele, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Robyn, Lorde, Laura Marling, Lana Del Rey, Angel Olsen, PJ Harvey, Sleater-Kinney, Lizzo, Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Mitski, Karin Dreijer, St. Vincent, Sharon van Etten, Weyes Blood, Jenny Hval, Grimes, Kacey Musgraves, Anna Meredith, Julia Holter, Courtney Barnett, Torres, Bat for Lashes, M.I.A. Noname, FKA Twigs, Soccer Mommy, Sophie, Charlie XCX, Carly Rea Jepsen, Lil Simz, Neko Case, Cat Power, Snail Mail, Waxahatchee, Dua Lipa, Cardi B., Amy Winehouse, Lilly Allen, Kate Tempest, Rosalía, Haim, Jessie Ware, First Aid Kit, Tegan and Sera… And that’s limiting myself to just the names I can mention from the top of my head, without further research, but there are certainly more. And from many genres too, including pop, with only hip-hop underperforming still a little, but even that is changing. All of them seem to be in control of their own careers to an important degree. And that’s even leaving out bands with both male and female members (Arcade Fire, Beach House, The xx).

I don’t think Britney Spears belongs in this group. As dangerous as the following statement may be to make, I’m going to make it: Britney Spears does not possess an artistic personality or creativity that comes close to any of the above and no sales in the world can change that. Besides she is a remnant from the time when studios/ producers molded the image of the pop singer, which was still going strong in the late 90’s and early 00’s. In that way, Britney Spears herself was an example of the sexist attitude of mainstream music, although I can’t say if she would have achieved fame without it.

Also, Rocky Raccoon is right in saying that the “manufactured products” argument is not only aimed at women. It has indeed been there for boys, including Max Martin’s own Backstreet Boys, but also earlier examples like Duran Duran, A-ha and even The Beatles in their early days! And Elvis certainly! The thing is, if you are pretty and successful, some people will not take you seriously. This also happens a lot to handsome actors and actresses by the way. Some people don’t trust the beautiful ones. That doesn’t mean that sexism isn’t at play at times, but it is not the only factor.
My comment was not directed towards you and I apologize if it came off that way, it wasn’t my intent. I was referring to certain attitudes behind the “industry plant” argument that I’ve heard through the years in different music discussions (just look at Monte’s comment for example, which was and is sexist and disrespectful) If you look at the entire history of popular music, you’ll see that the whole “manufactured artist” argument is used more towards female musicians rather than male ones. People can name every male example they want but it won’t disguise the fact that the argument is used more to put down female musicians. That’s what I was trying to express.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by cregis » Sat May 23, 2020 3:41 am

Rob wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:09 pm
Alright, a lot of reactions after mine, many as a direct response and I thought to expand on my thoughts. Instead of reacting to everyone one by one, I take a more general approach. It became a little long, so I added some headlines for people who just want to skip to parts they find interesting.

On producers as the main creative force
I think that first of all it is important to note that for every song there can be two driving forces: the performing artist or the producer. This a simplification and much great music is made when a great producer and a great artist find common ground and create something beautiful. Still, in a lot of works we see that the creative force of the performing artist is clearly the element that guides the way the music is shaped. This tends to be the music I connect to the most, I have noticed. In other cases it is the producer who holds the main vision and who is most responsible for the end product. You see this a lot in pop.

To take a more historic example we have to go to Phil Spector. He has performed himself now and then, but that is not what he is mainly known for. He became a legend because of the vision that created the famous wall of sound that was most successfully used in girl groups in the early sixties. Regardless of the great vocal abilities of the members of The Ronettes or The Crystals, the success of these songs is first and foremost attributed to Spector. Over the years some producers, especially in pop, have basically used artists to fit into their envisioned mold. Something like that can’t be achieved with an artist who has too strong a vision and personality of his or her own.

One reason why this approach works so well in pop is because pop tends to be more commercially minded, to be more into following trends. This is not necessarily a problem; some very memorable songs have been made that way, but they were not particularly innovative. Music production studios prefer to work with producers with a strong feeling for trends and a respect for commercial viability. Producers like this know how to shape a song in a way that is familiar yet fresh enough and they tend to work with artists who either aren’t too assertive or otherwise not capable enough to make their own material (not everyone who can sing well can write a song).

On the Max Martin/ Britney Spears collaboration
Enter Max Martin, a guy with an instinctive understanding of how pop works. His strength is not in innovation, but actually the opposite: he knows what has worked in the past and how to bring it to the present. All his songs are extremely conventional, but expertly put together. He seems to have a good ear for hooks too. And with a few exceptions, like Taylor Swift, he tends to work with artists that are not too assertive and don’t seem to have too much to say.

Enter Britney Spears. I know little about her from an artist point of view. I have no clue what motivates her, what brought her to the music industry. I don’t know what her talents are. But that is telling. She was one of the biggest stars when I was a teenager and my little sister used to play her debut album regularly. In general, I heard her work from that time a lot. Still, despite that I know nothing of Britney Spears’ inner world. There is a lot of tabloid stuff, but not something that comes from the inside of miss Spears, as her songs reveal nothing. You don’t need autobiographical songs for this. David Bowie eschewed such stuff and reveled in role play, but in the process revealed a personality that words perhaps could not describe. Some artists chose a mystique, others remain extremely private, yet all reveal something in their music.

With Britney Spears we come up empty, because everything seems to be controlled by outside forces. Her earlier hits at least where completely Max Martin. Her limitations were quickly exposed: she couldn’t sing live on stage and when a song suddenly rested on her vocals, like on Everytime, you could hear she was a weak singer with no range. Maybe there was more to her, but since then she never seems to have developed her skills further. The real Britney Spears has remain hidden, as far as I know. Not in tabloids, but in her music.

Therefore, stating that it is “delusional” to deny Britney Spears has changed music history is in a way a falsehood. Because Britney Spears is not the main creative force behind her songs (or at least the hits) she can not have changed music history. There is no doubt in my mind if Spears had not existed another girl would have been found and the same songs would have been made.

However, this does not mean I think Max Martin has changed music history. I think he did the opposite: he extended the status quo. As I already said, Martin’s strength is in understanding the conventions of the pop song and using them to create new hits. He doesn’t try anything new and therefore can not change history, as nothing can change without, well, change. It is commendable that he has been at it for so long, as trend-followers usually have a quick expiry date, but adaptability is not the same innovation.

On the Madonna connection
The connection with Madonna to me is important in this story. Although I have little love for her work myself it can’t be denied that she provided a watershed moment in music. Here was a woman in popular music that despite all of her collaborators kept in complete control of both her image and music. She took the pop formula and molded it into her vision, instead of being molded by it. At first she seemed a typical sexy, blonde archetype, but slowly yet surely subverted it. Britney Spears never went that far, but she did learn from that early, sexy blonde part. I don’t mean that demeaning, but more observational as a type of role an artist can chose to play. Madonna took this role and reveled in it in quite a few of her greatest hits. Take for example Like a Virgin, Material Girl or Who’s That Girl? Or even that documentary title: In Bed With Madonna. She was not afraid to use her image - blonde, girlish, outspoken sexual, yet mostly a tease – for her own motives.

There is no doubt in my mind that Madonna would have loved to have …Baby One More Time or Oops!... I Did It Again in her repertoire. These are extensions of Madonna’s hits and I would not be surprised if Max Martin took Madonna’s biggest hits with him as homework material before kickstarting Britney Spears’ career. Their approach to music, lyrics and production feels the same to me. But whereas Madonna went on to deepen and even subvert the image she created in those songs, Max Martin and Britney Spears stuck to that same surface, as artistic exploration is not their game. Also, it would be weird to deny the link between Madonna and Britney Spears as Spears has made no secret about how she idolizes the former. It might be the sole reason she wanted to perform and what made sure she eventually crossed paths with Martin. It even may be the only insight we’ll ever get into what truly motivates Spears. I’m not aware of what Spears thinks of Janet Jackson, but considering she is a contemporary of Madonna exploring similar themes and to a lesser extent musical modes it would not surprise me if Spears loved her too.

On issues of sexism
Another issue arose in this topic about the marginalized reception of women. I hope that this was not aimed specifically at me, as I listen to perhaps more female-led music these days than male and have written extensively and favorably about many of them here, including two large topics in praise of Lana Del Rey and Aldous Harding. I think there is some truth that women face a tougher time in being appreciated in general, although that seems to be getting better with each year, no less because the women are being rather awesome right now.

I think it is important to note here though that women have had a rather marginalized role in music until relatively recent. Not because they didn’t have the talent, but because they were not allowed to follow those talents. Relatively few women were allowed to write their own music or even decide their own image. The sixties and seventies are the revolutionary rock decades, but notice how little they had to do with women, unless under the direct control of men (like Phil Spector’s girl groups or Tina Turner until the eighties). Many of the strongest female voices of the time either weren’t really rock (Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez belonged to the more female-friendly folk scene and Nina Simone belonged to no genre in particular) or were true outsiders (Patti Smith and Kate Bush for example). The only two female names of these two decades that fit into the popular fold and remained with most of their individuality intact are Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin. Aretha Franklin preceded Madonna in subverting expectations and existing models in a mode that was deeply personal yet commercially viable, whereas Joplin mostly played other people’s music with such unique power that it couldn’t be denied. I also need to do a shout-out to a couple of women in pre-sixties blues like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Big Mama Thornton. There weren’t many of them, but damn did they make a stamp.

From the eighties on there was some progress in allowing women more freedom, but it was slow going and I think it became only big in the 2000’s and finally exploded in the 2010’s. I think the talent was always there, but not the means to prove it and there lies the most damning form of sexism in music. But now we have an awesome list of female artists from the current century that goes on and on: (in no particular order) Joanne Newsom, Beyoncé, Solange, Fiona Apple, Janelle Monáe, Björk, Christine & the Queens, Adele, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Robyn, Lorde, Laura Marling, Lana Del Rey, Angel Olsen, PJ Harvey, Sleater-Kinney, Lizzo, Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Mitski, Karin Dreijer, St. Vincent, Sharon van Etten, Weyes Blood, Jenny Hval, Grimes, Kacey Musgraves, Anna Meredith, Julia Holter, Courtney Barnett, Torres, Bat for Lashes, M.I.A. Noname, FKA Twigs, Soccer Mommy, Sophie, Charlie XCX, Carly Rea Jepsen, Lil Simz, Neko Case, Cat Power, Snail Mail, Waxahatchee, Dua Lipa, Cardi B., Amy Winehouse, Lilly Allen, Kate Tempest, Rosalía, Haim, Jessie Ware, First Aid Kit, Tegan and Sera… And that’s limiting myself to just the names I can mention from the top of my head, without further research, but there are certainly more. And from many genres too, including pop, with only hip-hop underperforming still a little, but even that is changing. All of them seem to be in control of their own careers to an important degree. And that’s even leaving out bands with both male and female members (Arcade Fire, Beach House, The xx).

I don’t think Britney Spears belongs in this group. As dangerous as the following statement may be to make, I’m going to make it: Britney Spears does not possess an artistic personality or creativity that comes close to any of the above and no sales in the world can change that. Besides she is a remnant from the time when studios/ producers molded the image of the pop singer, which was still going strong in the late 90’s and early 00’s. In that way, Britney Spears herself was an example of the sexist attitude of mainstream music, although I can’t say if she would have achieved fame without it.

Also, Rocky Raccoon is right in saying that the “manufactured products” argument is not only aimed at women. It has indeed been there for boys, including Max Martin’s own Backstreet Boys, but also earlier examples like Duran Duran, A-ha and even The Beatles in their early days! And Elvis certainly! The thing is, if you are pretty and successful, some people will not take you seriously. This also happens a lot to handsome actors and actresses by the way. Some people don’t trust the beautiful ones. That doesn’t mean that sexism isn’t at play at times, but it is not the only factor.

On “manufactured artists”
Also, music as a “manufactured product” is a thing. It is naïve not to think so. When something becomes popular, many want in it for the money and there are artists ready to go along with it, especially artists who have the will to become a musician but not the know-how. Or those that just want to become a star or rich. Who belongs to this group and who doesn’t will always be up to debate, except when you are Milli Vanilli. Nonetheless, if a "manufactured product" sounds good – and certainly they sometimes do – I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t enjoy it.

On revolutions in music history
This is getting long-winded and there is more to say, but I think there is one thing I want to end on: the strange relation music appreciation seems to hold with the revolutionary. It has long since seemed to me that music lovers, including many professional critics, dare only to declare their devotion to an artist if they can claim that the artist in question changed musical history forever. I noticed this first about ten years ago and if you start to actively look for it you’ll find it everywhere. Every artist with even a small following seems to have changed the world forever. It’s almost as if you are not allowed to like them if you don’t think they did. My background is foremost in film and to a lesser extent literature and this line of reasoning is far, far less prevalent there. In those cases the merit of an artist is based on the quality of the work and there is no expectation that every new movie or book is yet another sea change. Precious few artists or works can achieve such a thing and if they do it is more evolution than revolution.

I suspect that the obsession with music fans with revolution comes from the sixties, when music for a little while seemed tied with big societal and intellectual changes. It made it seem that rock was deeply important in a way no music before was and perhaps with that in mind later styles had to defend themselves from seeming minor in comparison. All this insistence on revolution or even its minor cousin influence seems rather silly to me. What’s most important is the quality of the work itself and our affection for it. My favorite album of the 2010’s is Laura Marling’s I Speak Because I Can and it is a very traditional folk album, but beautifully performed and something I relate too deeply. I think it is perfectly fine to love …Baby One More Time more than Like a Rolling Stone, but you don’t need big statements to back it up. I don’t think Spears’ debut made an ounce of difference in the development of music, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t succeed as a pop single.

Finally, I had Take That’s album Progress on while writing much of this. There is some irony there somewhere.
Wow - I appreciate this thoughtful response. I’m not necessarily in agreement with all of it, but I respect where you’re coming from. I’ll probably bow out after this post, but a couple quick final thoughts.

First, in regards to how these lists are assembled in the first place, I think some of us feel differently about how deserving a song is of their position based on the role the singer played in the song. I don’t think the fact that Spears or Presley or others didn’t write their own music makes the song any less great or important, but understand others will disagree.

Second, regarding Spears herself, there is a great article Pitchfork did on her when Blackout was released that really stuck with me. Their assertion was that, while she only has writing credits on a couple of the songs, that album could only have come from her at that moment in that time, with her persona, her delivery, and her ear for great pop. The Blackout era was also quite a prolific time for her, as there is a impressive catalogue of leaked demos showcasing a more raw and adventurous Spears, a lot she wrote herself. The final album has been added (rightfully, in my opinion) to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame archives, and interestingly, it’s the only record where she has executive producer credit. People are quick to cast doubt on her involvement with her own projects, but those seem to be mostly based on assumptions. Especially where writer Fraser T. Smith, who worked with her on Femme Fatale, specifically praised Spears for not using her clout to secure some dubious writing credits, which is a frequent practice by other artists. It’s also interesting to point to Everytime as a weakness, as that was her own composition, and she has more writing credits to her name than I suspect a lot of people realize, even occasionally for other artists.

It’s impossible to know the counterfactual, but there’s a good chance we wouldn’t be talking so much about Max Martin these days if Spears had not sung this song. To say “another girl would have been found” I think is a huge leap, especially expecting anywhere near the same results. The song is iconic not just for its writing and production, but for the unique delivery (which as explained in the write-up she clearly put a lot of thought into), and the video, which was by all accounts her idea and an obvious boost for the song’s notoriety and influence. Had the director had his way, we would have seen a cartoonish power rangers themed video. Her videos and live performances set the mold for what a lot of artist’s tours now look like. Spears actually had a Broadway background (see her time in Ruthless) and inserted a lot of that theatricality into her tours. I’d suspect many female artists took more than a few notes from the Dream Within a Dream Tour based on what we’ve seen since then.

You list some really great artists above (I could go on and on about Fiona Apple, Janelle Monae, St. Vincent, Beyoncé, and Beach House in particular), and very diverse. I personally think Spears belongs on this list, and several of them point to her as an inspiration (such as Lana Del Rey). A few of her mid-2000 albums (Blackout and In the Zone in particular), are her best work, and by all accounts sound the way they do because of her active involvement. She was vocal about challenging the studio heads who had their own ideas for her (for instance, pointing to Outrageous, a song she never liked, as a compromise to get some other songs on the album), but that type of artist/label struggle been going on for decades. Brian Wilson comes to mind. There are actually a lot of parallels there: both got their starts in the teen pop scene, both tried to break the mold the labels pressured them to fit, both had “lost albums” that fuel a lot of fan speculation, and both suffered mental illness at their creative peaks. I’m in no way comparing their talents as Wilson was an unqualified genius, but they had very similar trajectories.

I personally would have actually put I Want You Back at the top of this list, but I don’t want to diminish Spears’s impact. I guess I put myself in the category of being glad that things have shifted over the years and she’s enjoying a little retrospective critical acclaim she never saw during her peak.

Back to Fiona for a second: I still have not stopped listening to Fetch the Bolt Cutters. A masterpiece.
Last edited by cregis on Sat May 23, 2020 12:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Holden » Sat May 23, 2020 3:52 am

If I had to pick a best debut single of all time I'd have to say "Blitzkrieg Bop." It's just such an undeniably good song, it perfectly incapsulates the Ramones, and despite me not trying to add influence into mix, it does work as the song has a strong influence that you can still hear today in punk bands.
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Honorio » Sat May 23, 2020 6:42 am

Fantastic write-up, Rob! And I agree in most of it, especially on this "On revolutions in music history" part.

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Hymie » Sat May 23, 2020 1:40 pm

"I Want You Back" and "These Arms of Mine" are not debut singles. Both acts has singles out before that. The J5 had 2 singles before "I Want You Back."

Check out this list.

https://digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/best ... ingle.html

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Hymie » Sat May 23, 2020 1:45 pm

This is the Jackson 5 debut single, from 1968.


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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Hymie » Sat May 23, 2020 1:47 pm

"Our Lips Are Sealed" is not the Go-Go's debut single. They had an earlier version of "We Got The Beat" out a year before that.


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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Hymie » Sat May 23, 2020 1:50 pm

"That'll Be The Day" is not Buddy Holly's debut single. He had 2 or 3 singles out before that. This one is the debut, from April 1956.


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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Hymie » Sat May 23, 2020 1:51 pm

Otis Redding's debut single, from 1960.


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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by StevieFan13 » Sat May 23, 2020 7:21 pm

Can we acknowledge that one of the writers of the list wrote a really thoughtful and enlightening response to Rob’s post? Thank you for coming here and being a part of our discourse! I enjoy this list and if anything I respect Britney even more now.
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by StevieFan13 » Sat May 23, 2020 7:27 pm

Also, Hymie: say whatever you’d like, but history seems to have permanently ignored the actual debut singles.
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Live in Phoenix » Sat May 23, 2020 8:10 pm

Oh dear, Rolling Stone. Britney Spears shouldn't be a million light years near #1.

I might as well link my old 2014 post (with photos in disrepair) showcasing the then-top 100 Acclaimed Music artists' debut singles, as a point of comparison. Of those songs, I also made a personal top 15 (shortened version below).

1. Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights
2. Elvis Presley - That's All Right
3. Van Morrison - Brown-Eyed Girl
4. The Doors - Break on Through (To the Other Side)
5. The Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop
6. Neil Young - The Loner
7. Bjork - Human Behaviour
8. Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe
9. Arcade Fire - Neighborhood 1 (Tunnels)
10. Radiohead - Creep

Honorio ranked all 100 (shortened version below):
1. Sex Pistols - "Anarchy in the U.K." (1976)
2. Leonard Cohen - "Suzanne" (1968)
3. The Stooges - "I Wanna Be Your Dog" (1969)
4. Van Morrison - "Brown Eyed Girl" (1967)
5. Radiohead - "Creep" (1992)
6. The Band - "The Weight" (1968)
7. Jimi Hendrix - "Hey Joe" (1966)
8. Pixies - "Gigantic" (1988)
9. The Byrds - "Mr. Tambourine Man" (1965)
10. Elvis Presley - "That's All Right" (1954)

http://acclaimedmusic.net/forums/viewto ... erk#p26173

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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by StevieFan13 » Sat May 23, 2020 9:36 pm

Can anybody just look at cregis’ post and directly respond to it besides me? It kills me that nobody’s paying it any mind when it’s a nice counterpoint.
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Elder » Sun May 24, 2020 12:43 am

. I agree with Rob, this idea that a song has to be revolutionary to be good is stupid, however, I believe that the rule of innovation is more strict for women, obviously.

. I remember reading a review (I don't remember if it was from NME or RS) reducing the “Jagged Little Pill” simply because it is not as good as the “Horses”, this will never happen with a male artist, when the Strokes arose comparisons with Velvet Undegroud were always positive in the sense of a legacy being carried forward, very different from "Madonna is finished" for each new pop singer that emerged.

. Being validated by a critic is not a testament to originality, the Strokes in the 2000's created a real sausage factory with the acclaim of their first album, appearing several generic bands with their stupid lyrics, however, some validated by the NME.

. This differentiation between what is a product and what is original is quite superficial, few artists could actually be considered originals, most only absorb the musical moment in which they live (some do it much better than the originals).

. The commercial standard exists, but reducing the discussion only by analyzing the final result of standardization, does not explain the issue, it is very superficial.
Diana Ross is not to blame for Nina Simone not having space in the media with her politicized music (both are incredible).

. It is obvious that Britney Spears was in place and at the right time, in addition to meeting the beauty standard. These are facts, just as it is a fact that most white rockers from the 60's would be nothing if they were women. (I stole that argument from Courtney Love)
I could assume that Kurt Cobain was only successful because of his beauty, although that is very likely, it is just speculation.

. It is evident that reproducing new Britney’s is a goal in the music market and this is normal, as normal as a company that discovers that happy employees are more profitable and then starts to stimulate happiness with a view to profit. In this scenario, "rebel" artists (Avril Lavigne, Eminem) are also presented to be sold as antagonists. Sometimes I have fun with capitalism.
The fact that the market creates a pattern and wants every female artist to wear a swimsuit similar to Beyoncé's in Single Ladies, doesn't make her guilty of anything.
Every standardization is stupid, the controversy involving Lana Del Rey about her feeling forced to look like a Little Mix member shows a little of that.
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Re: Rolling Stone (U.S.): The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time

Post by Elder » Sun May 24, 2020 1:10 am

. It is not just the evil and capitalist mainstream that reproduces patterns, whenever a band appears to be inorvative (Nirvana, The Strokes) the critic will try to reproduce the same pattern with other artists. The false revolution sells, not as much as Britney Spears, but it sells.

. Rebel rockers also do it for the money, Bruce Sringsteen is a hero, but when he did shows here in Brazil, some tickets cost more than the minimum wage paid to a worker.

. For me, Britney Spears and Lily Allen are part of the same movement.
Aaliyah also falls into the category of artist without identity, why not corpor? Weezer, Pavement, R.E.M. are superior, why?

. As a good fan of Rock and Led Zeppelin I will plagiarize the comment read on this forum and scoff at the idea that everything that is produced in a garage is genuine, indie rock is true and original, Michael Stipe knows how to be sensitive without being exaggerated.
This view that only the indie rocker's feelings are pure has been romanticized by the indie critic over the years and is starting to lose ground today and I love it

. Britney Spears is a representation of the female Pop of her time. At the time of The Supremes, women presented themselves as romantic and non-sexualized, in the 90s it was already different (a little thanks to the revolution brought by Madonna), pop already approached female sexuality normally.
There is a stereotype that links sexuality to futility and is used only for women; is a cliché American movie script, in which silly men (Mick Jagger, Axl Rose) spend the entire movie fucking several Britneys, read as futile, because at the end of the film, these men find the right girl. This does not happen with Backstreetboys, they are not read with sexual objects.

. Rock is pop, rock is popular, rock is made for the masses and changes are often part of it, Britney Spears has managed to shape a generation and this may be more important than some independent artists with pure feelings (with incredible fans, superior creatures who heard "Imagine" and are willing to change the world, without any hard work, of course).
Michael Jackson has the best selling album and Whitney has the biggest commercial hit of the last century and this is interspersed with the politicized criticisms of Public Enemy and everyone influenced the black music to be as it is today, there are no abusive truths and much less one standard to change the world, things start from an extreme and reach a balance.

. Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse are the biggest rockstars of the 2000s, they have broken the system, while the Arctic Monkeys have only fulfilled their social role.
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