In the year I was born, Elvis Presley had both the number one and number two songs of the year. In 2016–sorry, you’ll just have to figure out how many years later that was for your own nosy self–Justin Bieber had the number one and number two songs. But the rest of the Top 10? They looked a lot less…we’ll just say a lot less diverse.
The number three slot: Drake not Nelson Riddle
Number four: Rihanna not The Platters, who were, by the way, the only minority act to crack the list.
Number five: twenty-one pilots not Gogi Grant
Number six: Desiigner not Les Baxter
Number seven: Adele not Doris Day (!)
Number eight: Chainsmokers not Elvis Presley
Number nine: Justin Timberlake not Dean Martin (!)
Number ten: Chainsmokers not Kay Starr
If we take our later list and delete any artist not substantially influenced by what would have been called “race music” when Elvis was mid-mis-appropriation, there’s not much there. But see if you can honestly say you went back and listened to those earlier songs and really really dug ’em. I did. OK, to be clear, I did the listening part, but not the digging part.
I was just curious, as a songhead, to hear how they hold up. And I’m here to testify: they are, on balance, painfully PALE. Pale is a lot better word for them than white. Matter of fact, just generally, seems to me pale is a better word for white than white.
So, next time I hear about a multiple shooting, I am not going to say, as I have become accustomed to saying, “oh noooo, that’s terrible…lemme guess. White guy?”
Nope, I’m gonna say, “oh noooo, that’s terrible…lemme guess. Pale guy?”