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Wilco's Touch Of Grey


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Will there every be a "hit"? I get that none of use could give two shits and would rather there not be,  though Jeff is a  "once a generation songwriter".  Or is guitar music just permanently over as far as the mainstream?

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I think to get anywhere close to comprehending the intersection of art and commerce that is a 'hit' song you have to look and see who is even vaguely stylistically adjacent who's had some kind of hit in the last 3 years. I don't know much about popular music, but I think the closest you get is Mumford and Sons which is still a few years ago and much more straightforward than anything this 6 piece would conjure.

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I've always thought that if Wilco was to have a "hit" it would be unexpected and in this part of their career, like Touch of Grey. At this point thought I don't know what a hit song would look like for music like Wilco. 

 

1 hour ago, Lukestar said:

I opened this thread thinking it was going to be about how Many Worlds has them absolutely channeling the Dead.

 

Same!

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Guitar music is not permanently over any more than vinyl records were permanently over in the late ‘90s.

 

For Wilco to have a big hit, it’d probably need to be a song that’s used prominently a massively huge move.

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When "Touch of Grey" came out, there were other songs similar to it in terms of tempo and instrumentation in the top 40.  There is nothing at all like Wilco's recent output in the top 40.  They would never get played on top 40 radio-- certainly not with the frequency necessary to climb the Hot 100-- and they would never amass the kind of streaming numbers necessary to get near the top of the chart.

 

In all seriousness, the best chance Wilco has to have a "hit" on the Hot 100 would be for us to recruit 300 people to each buy 1,000 downloads of a Wilco song in the same week.  Because of the way Billboard does the formula for the Hot 100-- a hopelessly broken formula, for what it's worth-- and because of the extremely low number of downloads purchased in the era of streaming, 350,000 downloads could be enough to score a No. 1 song even if it has no radio play and no streaming of note.  BTS scored a couple of number ones this way when their fan army bought multiple copies of their singles.  (One of those songs went on to be a "legitimate" hit, i.e., it had widespread airplay and strong streaming numbers.) 

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Let’s hope it never happens.  It’d make the concert experience awful, and probably hurt Wilco in the long run.  It’s very difficult for a band to go from huge success back to the stable, moderate success Wilco enjoys.

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24 minutes ago, KevinG said:

What is even a hit any more?  Gone are the days of top 40 charts. 

 

What do you mean?  The Billboard Hot 100 hasn't gone anywhere.  It's formula is broken, but it's still attempting to rank the most popular songs every week.  There are actually more charts than ever, as there are now Spotify charts, Apple Music charts, and a slew of genre-specific Billboard charts that didn't used to exist.

 

Hits are still hits.  Pop music is what's popular, regardless of genre.  Rock music-- at least, new rock music-- is not particularly popular these days.  But the pendulum could swing back.  Harry Styles' first album ("Sign of the Times") was a classic rock album.  Olivia Rodrigo's massively successful "Sour" is an alternative rock album (see "Good 4 U").

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5 minutes ago, Brian F. said:

 

What do you mean?  The Billboard Hot 100 hasn't gone anywhere.  It's formula is broken, but it's still attempting to rank the most popular songs every week.  There are actually more charts than ever, as there are now Spotify charts, Apple Music charts, and a slew of genre-specific Billboard charts that didn't used to exist.

 

Hits are still hits.  Pop music is what's popular, regardless of genre.  Rock music-- at least, new rock music-- is not particularly popular these days.  But the pendulum could swing back.  Harry Styles' first album ("Sign of the Times") was a classic rock album.  Olivia Rodrigo's massively successful "Sour" is an alternative rock album (see "Good 4 U").

 

 As you admit it is a broken formula and a system that is easily gamed, so to categorize a song as a hit is inherently flawed. 

 

I guess to the OP question, will Wilco every have a top 10 hit like The Dead did with Touch of Grey.  No they will not.  

 

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30 minutes ago, KevinG said:

 

 As you admit it is a broken formula and a system that is easily gamed, so to categorize a song as a hit is inherently flawed. 

 

I guess to the OP question, will Wilco every have a top 10 hit like The Dead did with Touch of Grey.  No they will not.  

 

 

There are still plenty of hits.  It's just that not everything that's in the top 40 or even top 10 is a "hit" in the conventional sense of the word.  But there is no shortage of hits.

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4 hours ago, Brian F. said:

 

There are still plenty of hits.  It's just that not everything that's in the top 40 or even top 10 is a "hit" in the conventional sense of the word.  But there is no shortage of hits.

 

So back to the OP, what is a hit?  What would constitute Wilco having a Touch of Grey moment?  x number of streams?  x number of downloads?  radio play?  Placing in the top 10 on Billboard Whatever?  BTW Here is Wilco's Billboard profile or whatnot  https://www.billboard.com/artist/wilco/.  According to this they have had "hits."  But what does it all mean?  IMHO to label a song a "hit" is meaningless in today's world.  

 

 

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A "hit," without more qualification, is a broadly popular song-- one that reaches a wide audience that goes beyond a specific, narrow genre audience.  The songs you see listed on Billboard's Wilco artist profile do not meet this definition.  Wilco had a number one song ("You Never Know") on the Triple-A (Adult Album Alternative) chart, but that is such a niche genre that the number of streams/spins/downloads necessary to be number one on it doesn't amount to a drop in the much larger ocean of music consumption.

 

Put it this way: the Hot 100 is an all-genre chart.  Any song in any genre that accumulates enough sales/airplay/streaming to rank in the top 100 is eligible to chart on it (certain exceptions that aren't relevant here notwithstanding).  Wilco has never placed a song on the Hot 100.  Wilco has never even had a song "bubble under" the Hot 100.  (That's a chart that ranks the 25 biggest non-recurrent songs that have not reached the Hot 100.)

 

I still don't understand why you think it is meaningless to label something a hit today.  I will grant you that the word gets used imprecisely, but that's not new.  People have been using the word "hit" to hype up songs for decades without regard for whether the word actually fit.  "Glass Animals" by Heat Waves.  That's a hit.  A smash hit, in fact.  "As It Was" by Harry Styles.  "Stay" by the Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber.  These are just a few off the top of my head.

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4 hours ago, Brian F. said:

 Wilco had a number one song ("You Never Know") on the Triple-A (Adult Album Alternative) chart,

 

And my inner misanthrope says, "See?! One of their worst songs charted the highest!". To all who enjoy that song, please ignore my negativity and keep having fun with it. 

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I like the song "You Never Know" (and love the album on which it appears), but for someone who had read Billboard since the early 1980s and who first saw Wilco in 1995, I was so excited when this happened so many years after the beginning of both relationships that I cut out that entire chart and saved it for posterity.  Alas, if Wilco had another Triple-A chart-topper today (which could happen), I wouldn't even be able to do that because they don't publish the chart in the magazine anymore.  They don't even publish the whole Hot 100 in the magazine.  The magazine is not even worth reading anymore.  It used to be a very cool and useful way to get behind-the-scenes information about the music industry and reams of chart information.  Now it's a lifestyle magazine along the lines of the Hollywood Reporter (owned by the same publisher) and only published every two or three weeks.  I used to anticipate a new issue of Billboard like a weekly Christmas Eve.  Now I buy it once a year for the Year in Music issue, mostly because I have a collection of them.

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Are some of you saying there are no longer hit songs?
 

If so, what was Old Town Road?  
 

Wilco is very unlikely to approach that.

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yep, I knew all the contrarians would come out on this one. I could list a half dozen tom petty songs for example that everyone but the most insufferable nerd would agree are "hits" the point being everyone recognizes the damn song. it just becomes part of the pop culture.

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