Your Take: 25/25 Vision

Karlie Justus Marlowe | June 12th, 2010

In Tuesday’s News Roundup, Brody included a link to Billboard’s new Top 25 of the Past 25 Years list, spanning back to country music’s 1980s heyday and reaching all the way to 2010.

Here’s how the chart was created:

The Top County Artists 1985-2010 ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Hot Country Songs and Top Country Albums charts from January 5, 1985 to the Billboard issue dated May 29, 2010. Artists are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at the lower end of the chart earning the least.

Prior to the Hot Country Song’s implementation in January 1990 of monitored radio airplay by Nielsen BDS and the Top Country Albums incorporation of point-of-purchase sales date from Nielsen SoundScan in May 1991, titles on those lists had shorter reigns at No. 1 and shorter chart lives. To ensure equitable representation from all 25 years, earlier time frames were each weighted to account for the difference between turnover rates from those years and the turnover rates that have occurred since the advent of Nielsen Music data.

Check out the full list on Billboard’s website, which is topped off with Brooks and Dunn, Alabama, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Randy Travis, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks and, coming in at number one, George Strait.

What artists’ placements on the list surprise you? Who did you not expect to make the list? Do you think Billboard’s measurement methods reflect the titular claim of the “top 25 artists of the past 25 years”?

  1. Matt Bjorke
    June 12, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Of the last 25 years that seems just about right. One might think that Brooks & Dunn would be slightly higher or maybe even Toby Keith but really, that doesn’t surprise me at all.

  2. Erik
    June 12, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I am surprised LeAnn Rimes made it as far as to #25 – she’s only been successful for about 9 of those 25 years.

  3. Razor X
    June 12, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I was surprised that LeAnn ranked so high as well.

  4. Nicolas
    June 12, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I had expected Dolly Parton to make the list… even though she hasn’t been a hit maker since the early ’90s

  5. luckyoldsun
    June 12, 2010 at 11:26 am

    It seemed pretty accurate. George Strait had to be No. 1 with 40-plus #1 hits and a whole load of #1 and platinum albums. And Garth had to be No. 2 for those massive album sales.

    For other artists, it depends on how much weight you give to the singles chart vs. the albmums chart. If you gave more weight to singles, maybe Tracy Lawrence, Mark Chesnutt and Joe Diffie would have figure in, because they each had more than a handful of #1 singles.

  6. Benny
    June 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Apart from the general mystery of Rascall Flatts’s success, The Judds suprised me since they were only active during the 80s unlike the others, while other artist who were at their peak in the 80s are missing (Ronnie Milsap, Eddie Rabbitt..). LeAnn too. and Dwight maybe, since he only had one #1 hit (plus the Buck Owens duet) Also missed some consistently successful ladies like Patty Loveless and Trisha Yearwood. I guess you can’t argue with the accuracy of the list, but I wonder what algorithm they used and if album or single sales have a bigger weight etc..

  7. Nicolas
    June 12, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I loved the tagline for this story on Yahoo News, it basically read like:

    Garth Brooks didn’t get #1, find out what unexpected name did!

    George Strait is a lot more popular than “some guy who unexpectedly took the #1 spot over Garth Brooks” I’d say

  8. Jon G.
    June 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Yeah, Nicolas, it definitely seems like whoever wrote that either didn’t know anything about country music (period-you can’t talk about country music as a whole without talking about certain people, and I think that George Strait is certainly one of them) or was just trying to get people to read the article. The three acts that immediately popped into my head upon hearing of the list were Alabama, Garth, and George, so I can’t really say that Strait’s being number one surprised me.

    I think Billboard did a fairly good job. You may disagree with the rankings or come up with a few artists who were left out, but I personally think that most of the names on the list more than make sense and are a good representation of mainstream country music over the past 25 years.

  9. Michael
    June 12, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Yeah, no real head scratchers for me in the bunch so I can’t really argue with the sytem.

  10. luckyoldsun
    June 12, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    I thought B&D would have placed a little higher because they had a bunch of #1 or top-5 singles and for awhile they were also putting out one multiplatinum album after another.

  11. jim reinhart
    June 13, 2010 at 8:16 am

    WOW… I must be out of the loop….I would have included Yoakum, Gill, Travis, and Strait.Thats it. ….I just read the criteria….nevermind, I thought the list was based on talent.

  12. Occasional Hope
    June 13, 2010 at 9:14 am

    It’s hard to argue too much over something that’s statistically based, although it might have been interesting to see separate lists for the radio and sales aspects.

  13. Paul W Dennis
    June 13, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Remember the cutoff year is 1986 – Alabama had much success in the years prior to that – in fact, their peak years were before then. This also is true of Dolly Parton and perhaps some other acts on the list.

    It’s a matter of where you draw the line. At some point Billboard deleted the words “and Western” from the Country chart heading. If you take that date as your cutoff point, then the number one single of all time is “Walk On By” by Leroy Van Dyke in 1961 (19 weeks at #1) . If you use the starting date for Billboard’s various country charts as the date (1/1/44), then Hank Snow’s 1950 hit “I’m Movin’ On” is at the top of the list with 21 weeks at #1. The Country Music Association was formed in 1958 – In 1966 they decided to start presenting awards (although they did not actually presenting those awards until 1967). If you take 1966 as your cut off date, then David Houston’s “Almost Persuaded” is the number one song of all time with 9 weeks at #1(since then 1999’s “Amazed” by Lonestar and 2003’s “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett — have come the closest, each with eight weeks at #1)

  14. luckyoldsun
    June 13, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    The singles rankings are based entirely on how the records did during their chart runs. That’s of interest, no doubt, but it doesn’t really tell you how big a record is historically.

    Leroy Van Dyke’s “Walk On By” may have been a big record for half a year in 1961, but it practically disappeared after that. I’d be willing to bet that LVD himself would tell you that if he could only keep one song, it would be “The Auctioneer”–That’s the record that built his 40-year career.

    There’s no doubt that the biggest record of Lee Greenwood’s career is “God Bless the USA”–even though it wasn’t even a top-5 hit (and he had a few #1’s.)

    George Strait had close to 50 #1 hits, but if you were picking his biggest records over the course of his career, I’m sure that at or near the top would be “Amarillo By Morning,” which was only top-5 on the chart.

  15. Julia C H
    June 13, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Nothing completely out of left filed. I was a little surprised by Rimes and Rascal Flatts and disappointied by the placement of Brooks & Dunn.

  16. Julia C H
    June 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    *left field. Darned it.

  17. klark
    June 13, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    oh Carrie and Taylor should’ve been there, Billboard must be a hater. LOL, just kidding

  18. klark
    June 13, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I just saw the list, I know only half of the people there (snap)

  19. K
    June 13, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I was really surprised by a lot of these choices.

    1.DC was the biggest-selling female group of all-time, but Rascal Flatts placed above them
    2. Carrie Underwood nor Taylor Swift placed
    3. Clint Black, Leann Rimes, Alan Jackson and Travis Tritt placed where they did.

    Overall though, I think it’s an acurate picture of the past 25 years in country music.

  20. Paul W Dennis
    June 13, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    LUCKYOLDSUN – I’m not sure what part of the country you live in but “Walk on By” got a lot of airplay for many years thereafter (and it was a million+ seller). It was still being played on country radio stations until the mid 1980s in Florida – it disappeared when most FM stations converted to strictly CD format, refusing to play anything not available on CD – this effectively killed off many country oldies as the major record companies delayed an insufferably long time in getting their classic country repertoire converted to CD

  21. Razor X
    June 13, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    I was really surprised by a lot of these choices …

    2. Carrie Underwood nor Taylor Swift placed

    They came along too late in the eligibility period. Even their strong album sales can’t compete with what George Strait and Reba McEntire have sold over the course of their entire careers. The same sort of thing happens when Billboard does its year-end lists. A monster hit that came out towards the end of the year usually charts lower because it didn’t have as much time to get airplay as something else that came out earlier in the year.

  22. Lewis
    June 14, 2010 at 8:37 am

    LeAnn Rimes has only had 1 #1 hit (One Way Ticket) and that was in 1996 at the beginning of her career so it’s more on her album sales that she got in than her singles.

  23. Occasional Hope
    June 14, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    “I was really surprised by a lot of these choices.”

    They aren’t really conscious choices. This listing was based on statsitical counting of weeks at each position on the chart, both singles and albums. The only choices involved were general ones about weighting different periods to reflect changes in measurement, not directly affecting the specific placement of individual artists.

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