You have probably seen different types of Rock & Roll lists presented in the media. Over the years, I’ve been able to write a full ElvisBlog column about three of them. They all had to be categories that interested me, of course; serious polls like “The 50 Most Awesomely Dead Rock Stars” and the “Sexiest Rock & Roll Artists of All Time,” and the “100 Most Outrageous Moments in Rock & Roll.” There was lots of Elvis stuff in all three, so they were fun to write about.
However, the rest of the lists I’ve come across have been put in a file folder for extended languishing. Now it is time to empty the contents of that list file and make a few comments as we go.
The results I am happiest with are on a list from Q Magazine: the “Top Ten Singers Ever”. Elvis heads the list, just ahead of Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra. Aretha was the only woman. Number 4 was a big favorite of mine, Otis Redding. I remember going to parties in the late 60s and dancing to Otis Redding songs for hours. If your music horizon doesn’t go back far enough to include Otis Redding albums, you need to learn about this great performer. Get some of his CDs; his live concert recordings are incredible. Number 10 on the list is Tim Buckley, and I don’t think I’ve ever listened to his music. I guess I need to follow my own advice and get a Tim Buckley CD and find out why he ranked so high.
Here is the award winner for the list with the longest name: “Best Ever Acting Performance By A Musician,” put out by Contact Music. Elvis got nudged out by Frank Sinatra for his performance in From Here To Eternity. We all know Frank did a superb job in that role, so I’ve got no problem with Elvis coming in second for his work in Jailhouse Rock. But, look at who came in next: Eminem, in his only acting job, 8 Mile. I haven’t seen it, so I really can’t say anything, but if he’s such a good actor, why hasn’t he made any more movies? Even though I’m pleased that Elvis’ acting in Jailhouse Rock was so esteemed, I can’t imagine why Elvis in King Creole didn’t make the Top 10 on this list. For my money, the best acting job Elvis ever did was in King Creole.
Billboard has done a number of lists, and they have some credibility when it comes to making their picks. However, they won’t get me to accept Elvis as #4 on their list of “The 100 All-Time Top Artists.” Maybe I won’t quibble with The Beatles being picked as #1, but Madonna and Elton John are not above Elvis. He wasn’t the only one given a bum rank. The Rolling Stones came in #10 – behind Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey. No way.
VH1 produced two of the lists in my file, and one of them just amazes me. They selected the “50 Greatest Teen Idols,” and you’ve got to figure Elvis would do great in a poll like that, right? Well, he did not. In fact, he didn’t make the cut. I read that list three times to make sure, but Elvis’ name was not to be found. That’s ridiculous. They had top winners Britney Spears (1), David Cassidy (2), and N’Sync (3). All big teen idols for sure, but nothing compared to the idolatry Elvis received in the 50s. How in the world did anyone think Rick Springfield, Scott Baio and Corey Feldman were bigger teen idols than Elvis? To show you how skewed against older icons this stupid list was, it did not even include James Dean.
To their credit, VH1 partially made up for their omission by placing Elvis #3 in another list: “100 Greatest Pop Culture Icons.” He was behind Oprah Winfrey and Superman, and ahead of Lucille Ball. They sure must have had an older group of judges for this one. There were older icons all over this list. I’ll bet that when the judges picked Elvis, they were thinking about him in white jumpsuit and cape saying, “Thank you, thank you very much.”
I just noticed something interesting on one of the pages in my list file. It shows that VH1 has also produced “The Greatest: 40 Hot Rock Star Girlfriends” and “The Greatest: 100 Most Wanted Bodies.” Elvis had dynamite girlfriends and young Elvis has to rank pretty high in that bodies list. I need to check out these two polls and see if there is enough there for another column. They sure sound interesting. Don’t know how I missed them before.
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