Billboard Screws with Elvis

Billboard has long been the go to for song and album charting since music was first manufactured as a physical product to be sold.

Because the easiest way to sell something is to establish that everyone else is buying it before you – so get yours before someone else get it, you don’t want to be the last on on your street? Wait, we don’t know our neighbours anymore, scratch that.

I used to work in a Mom and Pop video store in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s – right on the cusp of VCRs coming down in price, below the $3000 they were originally – think about that, you can get Blue ray players for under $100 now! But new tech is always expensive and it seems rarely worth being an early adaptor – so as a public service, I want to continue the Meme:

Let’s all ignore any physical media after blu-ray and force the studios to stop re-selling the same content and instead, merge the big TV with computers and sell us subscriptions to your back catalog and new releases and end the need for TV broadcasters and content on physical media sales. Long tail and ever green.

Let’s face it, most of us watch entertainment in very different ways that Televsion was imagined and not changed in meaningful ways since it’s inception.

The only purpose of TV is the commercials – and we all skip over them now – so they’ve got to work in commercials as product placement, incorporate consumer messages into the programs, the same way that these products occur in our daily lives.

So, Elvis and Billboard. Elvis Info Net provides a detailed explanation of how the charting rules have been altered to minimize deceased or decades ago artists, in favour of current artists today./

In a way, it’s a bit like poorly done affirmative action – past artists are being dropped from the charts, resulting in a shifting of the history of popular music and creating false impressions.

Elvis was the second person to sell a million copies of a single. He was the first to sell consistent million sellers back to back – and if the current billboard group wants to promote current hitmakers as being impressive, then removing Elvis as the measuring standard, creates a fraudlent impression.

Honestly, if I were a performer, I’d want my chart history to stand against the best, not take out the King and measure myself against all the other pretenders.

Because that’s what’s going on.

Elvis has never been given his due as an artist – he became famous the wrong way, he was Southern and alien to the northern skewed enterainment business.

More than that, Elvis was a well mannered and respectful to authority, and when he obeyed, he was a workhorse musical and movie hitmaker who could take our minds off our daily grind and just enjoy being entertained without thought to hidden messages.

When Elvis didn’t obey, he showed us with his Sun singles, the early RCA hits, the 68 Special, the Chips Moman sessions, his true greatness eliminating all diversity resistance and blending all musical human expression into an atomic sexual  volcanic force of nature:

Rockabilly was Country done Blues with a Gospel fervor delivery.

Elvis was a musical sponge and he could and did record it all – pop, rock, ballads, blues, country, rockabilly, show tunes, folk songs, Great Songbooks, Tin Pan Alley and at the end of his career, he didn’t record opera, but he was expressing even that epic a delivery with Hurt, How Great Thou Art and The American Trilogy.

If music stories organized by genre, Elvis would have to have space all over the store, in almost every category. He continues to defy description, so is taken for granted. Elvis sells whether his label or studio put any thought or effort into products or marketing.

Some songs, he was even doing sing song spoken word versions of. Softly as I leave you – with Elvis speaking and Sherril Nielsen singing the lead, with Elvis ending on the final harmony. Spine chilling and dramatic story telling, giving comfort to our life’s hurts and pain and reminding us of the joys and our greater potential.

For as much as Elvis maintained he kept his views to himself, through his song choices, Elvis made his message clear. Be kind and polite, generous and ignore the things that don’t matter, like the colour of someone’s skin over the quality of their individual character.

He quoted a lot, the Hank Williams, Men with Broken Hearts and embraced the Walk a Mile in my Shoes as a guiding principle. He wasn’t a Ghetto poser, he lived out the Great Depression in rural sharecropper father in prison and not the best of providers when he wasn’t, with a strong mother who loved her boy above all, and why he aspired to the middle class dream of ascending prosperity to provide for her, all the things that they didn’t have. Sadly, Gladys did not live long and seemed more bewildered and frightened by Elvis’ unprecedented fame and adoration, than enjoying it.

Money has a way of separating you from your friends who have none. And the Presleys went from public housing to a mansion in a few short years. Enough to turn anyone to drink and despair, if you think about how foriegn a world it was that they suddenly had that their feet. Worse, that sense that their new money would never allow the Presleys to fit in. The Unsinkable Molly Brown syndrome and it wouldn’t be until the 1960’s and post-army service, that Elvis obtained that veneer of civilized society that made him the biggest box office draw. The man who’s movies made the money that all the artistic movies were made from.

Ironic then, that it’s the Elvis light musical comedies with exotic locations and pretty girls that remain re-watchable and timeless, since they existed in the Elverse.

Because let’s face it. Elvis was and remains in a universe entirely of his own.

But that doesn’t mean it’s okay for Billboard to erase Elvis’s career from musical history.

34 years after his death and he’s still too dangerous and unpinndownable for the studio execs and establishment industry.

The only way other artists can beat him is to cheat him.

So how can any artist want to claim record milestones, when they are only comparing themselves to each other – and not against the one person who’s career path everyone is trying – and failing – to emulate?

How can we pretend that Elvis wasn’t the King?

 

 

4 thoughts on “Billboard Screws with Elvis

    • I have training as a screenwriter and am currently developing a tv show project – which needs a “-verse” to exist in.

      So like fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, refer to the Buffyverse – the world created by Joss Whedon that Buffy inhabits – so I am bringing that analysis to Elvis.

      His movies took place in the Elvis-verse – exotic locations and the worst problems are solved with karate and you get the girl the end – or marry her off.

      Elvis’s characters had exotic jobs for the time period – never an office job – always one where you set your own hours, made your own sort of rules for behaviours, but in the end, was a decent, hardworking, compassionate person.

      So Elvis movies, were about how to be in the world – the hardworking, doing what you love and living life to the fullest.

      Elvis played a variety of racing vehicle roles – racers, pilots, adventurers – all of which are possible to become in this day and age – if you want to record music, you can do it, post it online and develop a following. Same for writing.

      In the Elvis-verse, or Elverse – the problems were many but surmountable, with the right song, or enough charm/luck you make or a swift karate chop and the endings were varied, but happy for the most part.

      Parker didn’t understand the artistry of Elvis – but he understood the appeal.

      Elvis lets us put aside our cares and worries and be pure joy, celebration of human potential, creativity and sexual goodness. For the runtime of a recorded concert or a movie – as Elvis said, no message, just pure entertainment.

      Forget your troubles, c’mon get Elvis.

      • If I remember correctly, you’re a bit of Star Trek fan, too, right? “Elverse” instantly reminded me of the “Shatnerverse” – that special branch of novels by Shatner and the Reeves-Stevens that were apart from other Trek fiction in terms of continuity. Some of the best Trek novels, actually.

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