Thursday, October 2, 2003


Music that rates

The Zagats turn their attention
from dining and restaurant
guides, to popular music

2003 Zagat Survey Music Guide
Zagat Survey LLC, 332 pages, softcover, $14.95

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN'S 1975 release, "Born to Run," is the most popular album of all time, according to the new Zagat Survey Music Guide.

Most Influential Musical Artists: The Beatles

Most Popular Album: "Born to Run" (1975)

Top Rock (Punk):.The Clash "London Calling" (1979)

Top Musical: "My Fair Lady" Lerner and Loewe (1956)

Top Break-Up Album: Bob Dylan "Blood on the Tracks" (1975)

Long recognized as an authority on hotels, restaurants, golf courses and other recreational activities, Zagat polled more than 10,500 ordinary music fans to determine the top albums in categories that include "Most Influential Musical Artist," "Top-Rated Songwriters," "Top Make-Out Albums" and "Top Workout Albums."

In addition to "Born to Run," which spent more than two years on the Billboard charts, and Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town," the Beatles claimed four of the top 10 spots for most popular albums with "Abbey Road," "Sgt. Pepper," "The White Album" and "Revolver." U2's "The Joshua Tree" and "Achtung Baby" join Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue" in rounding out the list.

Donna Summer's 1987 release, "The Dance Collection," is recognized as the top dance album in terms of overall quality. The Clash's 1979 double album, "London Calling," is the top punk selection, Public Enemy's "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" is the favorite among hip-hop artists and Howlin' Wolf's "Moanin' in the Moonlight" takes the cake in the blues category.

ACCORDING TO Tim and Nina Zagat, the survey's co-publishers who started it all back in 1979, the new Music Guide was "a tremendous ear-opener for us.

"It reveals much of what is new in music today, including the mainstream acceptance of computers in accessing all kinds of recordings ... indeed, this book vastly stretched our own musical vocabularies."

The Zagat Survey also found that its participants spend 24 hours listening to music each week, and more than half of those people download their favorite songs off the Internet and burn their own CDs. They also spend an average of $343 annually on retail music purchases and have approximately 500 albums and CDs in their home collections.

Each entry in the 322-page Music Guide rates artists and albums in terms of overall quality, songwriting, musicianship and production, and include the album's original label and release date, the most popular track on the album according to participants and a quick review that includes comments by the surveyors.

"To our delight, participants showcased their tastes with a depth of knowledge that stands up to the most critical musical ear," the Zagats said. "The Music Guide gives serious listeners access to the opinions of their peers."

WHILE THE results of the first survey may appear a bit skewed to some -- just over 80 percent of all participants range in age from 20 to 50 years old -- take some time and dig through the listings and you'll find intelligent, insightful commentary that only occasionally misses the mark.

Eric B. and Rakim's 1987 epic "Paid in Full," for example, receives 27 out of a possible 30 points for overall quality, with reviewers calling it "hip-hop at its purest" and the duo "possibly the best DJ/MC combo from rap's old school days."

But rating the soundtrack to "Moulin Rouge" the same as Midnight Oil's "Diesel and Dust," or calling the soundtrack to "Star Wars" better than George Michael's "Faith?" And what's up with Whitney Houston getting beat out by the likes of India.Arie, Norah Jones and Sarah McLachlan?

Utilizing the results of the Zagat Survey might help expose you to artists or music genres you aren't very familiar with, but keep in mind that everybody's tastes differ when it comes to the music we listen to. The Music Guide is just that -- a guide.


Honolulu's listening to ...

Honolulu's clamoring for the "Idols," including Kelly Clarkson, says Amazon.

One more index offering clues to popular taste is Amazon's "Purchase Circle."

Log into to see what people are buying in various regions, by schools or organizations. In Hawaii alone you can pinpoint what's going on from Kona to Lihue. In Honolulu, these are the top 10:

1. "Before Your Love"/"A Moment Like This" CD single -- Kelly Clarkson
2. "Do It For Love" -- Daryl Hall and John Oates
3. "Last Concert" -- Rosemary Clooney
4. "American Idol Season 2: All Time Classic American Love Songs -- Various
5. "Peter Cincotti" -- Peter Cincotti
6. "American Idol Greatest Moments" -- Various
7. "Come Away with Me" -- Norah Jones
8. "In Blue" -- Karrin Allyson
9. "The Magic of Satie" Erik Satie and Jean Yves Thibaudet
10. "Thankful" -- Kelly Clarkson

Of course sales are weighted toward those with Internet access and free time. But it sure looks like there's a lot of interest in the "American Idols." Is it a coincidence that auditions are going on here this week?

And Zagat readers like ...

Here are the top 10 most popular albums according to the Zagat Survey Music Guide:

1. Bruce Springsteen, "Born to Run"
2. The Beatles, "Abbey Road"
3. The Beatles, "Sgt. Pepper"
4. U2, "The Joshua Tree"
5. The Beatles, "The White Album
6. Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue"
7. Bruce Springsteen, "Darkness on the Edge of Town"
8. The Beatles, "Revolver"
9. Pink Floyd, "Dark Side of the Moon"
10. U2, "Achtung Baby"

Here are the guide's top albums by genre:

Blues: Howlin' Wolf, "Moanin' in the Moonlight"
Classical: Vladimir Horowitz, "Horowitz in Moscow"
Country and Western: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken"
Dance: Donna Summer, "Dance Collection"
Electronica: Massive Attack, "Protection"
Folk: John Prine, "John Prine"
Funk: The Meters, "Funkify Your Life"
Hip-hop: Public Enemy, "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back"
Jazz: Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue"
Kids: "Muppet Movie"
Musicals: "My Fair Lady"
New Age: Ottmar Liebert, "Nouveau Flamenco"
Pop Vocal (Contemporary): Michael Jackson, "Thriller"
Pop Vocal (Traditional): Ella Fitzgerald, "Best of the Songbooks"
Rhythm and Blues: Luther Vandross, "The Best"
Rock (Overall): Bruce Springsteen, "Born to Run"
Rock (Alternative): U2, "The Joshua Tree"
Rock (Art/Experimental): Pink Floyd, "Dark Side of the Moon"
Rock (Classic): Bruce Springsteen, "Born to Run"
Rock (Garage/Underground): "Nuggets: Original Artyfacts"
Rock (Hard/Heavy Metal): Metallica, "Master of Puppets"
Rock (New Wave): Elvis Costello, "This Year's Model"
Rock (Oldies): Elvis Presley, "Elvis (TV Special)"
Rock (Punk): The Clash, "London Calling"
Singer-Songwriter: Patty Griffin, "Living with Ghosts"
Soul: Aretha Franklin, "Lady Soul"
Soundtracks: Peter Gabriel, "Passion"
World: Paul Simon, "Graceland"

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