I love reading the AVclub.com‘s editorials. They are informative, whimsical, and plentiful. If you aren’t checking it out on a regular basis then you need to get your priorities straight. Oh yeah.… and watch out for that other crowd you‘re running with – don’t think I haven’t noticed.
Recently staff writer, Steven Hyden, wrote a post entitled “The Five Albums Test” whereby he summates that the likelihood of a band (or in some cases a TV show) being revered as “greatest of all time” is far greater if they have had a run of 5 great albums (or seasons) in a row. You can read the whole thing here:
Hyden’s theory is a good one and it goes part in parcel with my Grace Quotient – only mine picks up where Hyden’s leaves off. If you can believe that most great bands (or TV shows) start strong and then lose steam then you are right where you need to be to understand both theories. Hyden uses Queen as an example, citing that they had five great albums (maybe as many as eight in a row) before I’d argue (and I am pretty sure he’d agree) that their prowess for amazing albums was substituted for great selling singles and a mythical live show which kept them going until Freddie Mercury‘s death in 1991. Not going to even touch the Paul Rodgers version of Queen which gives Queen a current grace quotient score of 0.6.
It’s no secret, a band has to have a insane amount of talent, critical acclaim, commercial appeal and aptitude for success to stay relevant more-so today than ever in pop-culture history. To illustrate this point, Hyden goes on to note the diminishing amount of bands since the 80s who have put out 5 great albums. I would chime in here and say that there is a correlation with current bands’ grace quotient drop off rate (which is faster) and Hyden’s realization. Bands (and TV shows) aren’t sticking around long enough to release five albums and therefore a lasting, high grace quotient.
The reason for this? There are too many “next big things” fuelled by some talent agent or indie-label’s arrogance vying for the same piece of pie. And no one except the greats – the Zeppelins, the Whos, the Queens – know what exactly that pie tastes like – but nonetheless, bands will strive for the crumbs. But once they reach the table-top of pop-culture relevance, they will find an empty pie plate (or Frisbee). Or at the very least they find Kanye West licking the crumbs/dust off his fingers saying “Imma let you finish, but Sara Lee is the best pie of all-time.”