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Glee Breaks Billboard Hot 100 Record: Surpasses Elvis

February 19, 2011

I’m not the type to spend too much time crooning over the Billboard Hot 100, or even the top 200 for that matter. There are hundreds of bands I favor that never make an appearance on these popular music charts, yet still create ample splashes in the music world.

However this week’s news, that FOX’s hit musical comedy show “Glee” had snagged it’s 113th single was groundbreaking, as it upended the likes of James Brown, the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

These three historical music heavy-weights have all been surpassed by FOX’s high-school themed music series, less than two years from its premiere.

The late Elvis Presley's would have a somber feeling about the state of music today, knowing that his decades of chart-topping singles have been upended by a cast of glossy teenage actors and actresses cashing in on covers of famous musicians like himself. Life's just not fair though, is it?

Just for the record, Elvis had 108 singles, the Beatles had 71 and James Brown had 91. That’s the King of Rock n’ Roll, the Fab Four and the Godfather of Soul…

To demonstrate the selling power of Glee’s records, Glee: The Music, Volume 4, released last November, tied Taylor Swift for a record 12 singles in the Top 40. Swift’s 2008 album Fearless was a chart-topping ensemble of bubbly tunes bent on infiltrating your consciousness for days on end; that is if you weren’t living under a rock these last two years.

Granted, albums and singles produced by the likes of the Glee Cast, Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber have showed little fortitude once reaching the Hot 100, setting records for fastest single-week downward movements. Call it a tribute to the short-attention span of kids these days…

The Glee Cast’s cover of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” dropped 73 positions in one week following its debut at No. 21 on October 16, 2010.

It’s also worth noting that Billboard bases their statistics on record sales, both digital and physical. While that sounds all jolly and good, it’s a far throw from the actual numbers and plays of illegal downloads, copied or shared music files and live ticket sales. In a world where digital music downloads have taken a firm grasp on the music industry, its a clearer bet that pop music and children’s music sales will remain amongst the top chart offerings, due to a disinclination to download or share files illegally, but rather conventionally, through iTunes or at the local music distributor.

I’m not trying to steal Glee’s thunder; there is credit due to creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan for conceiving one of the most popular music-based television shows in history. The Glee Cast continues to drop Hot 100 singles, sell millions of records and draw in millions more television viewers and nothing signals a slow-down anytime soon.

However, this record, for the most Billboard Hot 100 singles, is perhaps an appropriate chance for us to reconsider what Billboard means to us in terms of music exposure and recognition. At the end of the day you have to really ask yourself; who made a greater impact on music, Glee or the King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley?

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