Sunday, March 12, 2017

This is why you can't believe "data-based" findings

It would appear that  a recent story on Polygraph purports to list the most "timeless" songs of all time, based on how much they continue to be played. Fortunately, a story on Real Clear Life makes it clear that Polygraph's list draws data from a fairly limited source:
There’s an obvious caveat here: The publication’s definition of “timeless” is based solely on the number of Spotify plays, and it’s entirely possible that incredibly timeless songs have been left off the list for reasons of under-playing or -discovering. (For example, Big Star‘s entire catalog.) Also, there are some major artists—including pop superstar Taylor Swift — who have not yet uploaded their catalogs to the service, so they’re altogether missing from the data set.
. . .
Looking at the Top 51 of the list, it’s hard not to wonder how two Linkin Park songs broke into the Top 10 (“Numb,” No. 3; “In the End,” No. 6); or how Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” (No. 1) beats out everything including Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” and Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing.”
Looking at the list, there are many obvious questions. The first being, how the fuck did Linkin Park, with their dumbass "rap, sing, scream, repeat" formula make anyone's timeless list? They haven't had a career worth noticing in at least 15 years, and their career worth noticing before that lasted only a couple years. Timeless? Please. And Oasis? Really? Two albums and a cloud of dust? Yet Spotify deems them timeless, while the Rolling Stones can't break the top 50. Whatever.

Further, radio still provides far more people with music than Spotify. Talk about cherry-picking. Spotify as your arbiter of timeless? A bunch of primarily millenials picking music from their lifetimes is hardly a good basis for determining what music is timeless. If this is what passes for "data-based" findings, count me out.

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