CSPC: Bob Marley Popularity Analysis

Bob Marley muerte foto

In an era in which everybody who achieves 15 minutes of fame is labelled a “Legend!!!” – like comments by some, we may wonder which word would fit well someone of the stature of Bob Marley. The utterly iconic Reggae singer crossed over cultures, boundaries and generations to become way more than a simple singer. He is one of the World’s main flagships of love, peace and respect. More than 36 years after his death Marley‘s face remains widely known in every corner of the globe.

The symbolism of his persona reached such heights that he is more often compared to Gandhi, Ernesto Guevara, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa rather than Elvis Presley, Phil Collins, Elton John and Rod Stewart. The first four icons never sold a record. It raises a real question: while there is no doubt about his immense popularity beyond the music scene, has Marley really been as popular as a singer?

His records which include Exodus and Kaya are never mentioned among the best selling albums ever. If you add together his #1 hits in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Finland and Belgium, you get the total of zero. I mention #1 hits, in reality Marley‘s songs never made the US Hot 100 top 50. Maybe he was an album seller instead? In the UK and Germany, his studio outputs never made the Top 3. In the US, Rastaman Vibration was his only Top 10 LP by going to #8.

Songs like No Woman No Cry, Could You Be Loved, Three Little Birds or Is This Love? seem widely popular though. Where is the truth then? How popular really is Marley and his catalog? Which songs are the most remembered to this day? How do his albums perform against their contemporary competitors?

As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge his results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all Marley‘s albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming, but it will also determine their true popularity. If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, the next page explains it with a short video. I fully recommend watching the video before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the figures.

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Analord

Can someone explain why I Shot The Sheriff and Get Up Stand Up don’t show up when I do a search with the Spotify numbers tool ?

Martin

Not sure exactly but the whole Burnin’ album is actually missing, not just those two tracks from it.

Al

The album and these songs are listed under The Wailers as a distinct artist for some reason

Martin

I thought it could be that but then seen that other albums of theirs are also officially credited to just The Wailers but are listed. I also used the tool to specifically search for “The Wailers” but it just returned what searching for “Bob Marley” and “Bob Marley & The Wailers” also returns.

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin
Al

Searching with artist ID solves the issue

Analord

I did some digging and apparently the album was never released under the name “Bob Marley & The Wailers”, as opposed to the previous album, Catch A Fire, originally a Wailers album in 1973 but reissued in 1975 with the new name.

Dave

So i recently was in a discussion about The Beatles and Bob Marley. Basically, I was saying that globally Bob Marley is easily mor recognized and popular than The Beatles, thoughts?

Al

That might be true tbh, but I don’t think it’s the case when it comes to their music

Matrix

No way. The music of the Beatles is much more famous , more renowned. While Bob is certainly the king of reggae music he never had the same success as the Beatles. Not even close.

HARSHIT KUMAR PATNAIK

Musically Beatles are surely more famous but as a brand name and popularity among masses Bob Marley is easily more popular than Beatles outside US&UK… surely I can say in the second most populated country India where I belong to

Last edited 7 months ago by Harshit_383
PeterH

Dude, Beatles are WAY more famous and have a more recognisable name in all of a Europe, most of Asia, especially Japan, Oceania, North America.

I don’t know about South America, but I believe Bob is pretty famous there.

Martin

Some poll etc many years ago, that was published in the UK press suggested that Marley was the most recognisable musician on a wordwide basis. Not the most popular, just that his image was the most well known and recognised.

These are the current “Fame” ratings from UK Government statistics, Marley comes in 9th, The Beatles 17th. Paul McCartney (11th) actually proves to be more well known than The Beatles!

https://yougov.co.uk/ratings/entertainment/fame/all-time-music-artists/all

PeterH

It’s a poll, how reliable is it? Why should we trust it?

It states Britney Spears and Coldplay are more well known than MJ. Really?

Please…..

Martin

What is YouGov Ratings? YouGov Ratings measures the popularity and fame of anything and everything, based on millions of responses from the British public. It is the biggest and boldest attempt ever made to quantify what Britain thinks. YouGov is doing this by publishing nationally representative popularity scores for thousands of things. YouGov Ratings is built on top of our accurate and precise methodology, which the Pew Research Center says “consistently outperformed” other online polling companies. Going on the above description of how their polls are collated and compiled, I’d say it’s 100% trustworthy and reliable. But hey, it obviously… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin
PeterH

It’s just very hard to believe someone like Britney Spears or Coldplay are more well known in the UK than Michael Jackson, and that the BEATLES are 17th in their HOME country. Lady Gaga is long past her peak too, its very strange she is number 1.

I wonder what has to say this. Do you think Britney Spears is more well known than MJ?

Last edited 1 month ago by PeterH
Martin

I think you’re assuming younger generations are as aware of acts like Jackson, The Beatles or Elvis, as older generations are. Many of them may pay little to no attention to acts of yesteryear.

It doesn’t matter what I think, clearly she is amongst the demographic.

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin
Analord

I don’t live in the UK but it is indeed hard to believe that Britney would be more famous than MJ over there… Her biggest album sold 1m copies in 1999, which is actually less than what History sold in 95/96 (1.5m), not to mention Thriller and Bad which sold 5m both. Then you have the celebrity/tabloid aspect, and I’m pretty sure MJ beats her in that contest…

Martin

I do live there and I’d say her life turns up in the tabloids far more often than Jacksons. The past few months she’s been in the spotlight again, due to that documentary about her fathers conservatorship. She’s seldom been out of the tabloids over the past 20 years. Be it for her rise to stardom, her success, her relationships, her breakdowns, her car crash life, her getting things back together, her comebacks, her relapses, her fathers conservatorship etc etc etc There was obviously quite a furore around Jackons death and then the Leaving Neverland documentary but he certainly hasn’t… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin
PeterH

MJ has been famous for far longer than Britney. You can’t just count the younger generation, they are in the minority.

And how the hell did GAGA get to the top? She’s out of her prime since 2011, and her latest album performed poorly. There are far more famous acts in the UK currently, like Taylor Swift who is massive in the UK, but she’s nowhere top 10.

Look at their STREAMS and MJ has both, Madonna and Britney beat by a miles, so how are they more known, if MJ gets streamed more?

Martin

Yes you can, older generations recognise both The Beatles and Spears, some of the younger generation only recognise Spears. Its got nothing to do with how much you sold or streamed. Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd have sold far more than Whitney Houston, The Bee Gees, Bob Marley, Oasis or Prince but they are infinitely more recognisable than either Floyd or Zeppelin. I’d imagine because Ga Ga is so very recognisable, contemporary and starred in one of the biggest films of recent years, with a succesful album and single, on the back of it. At the end of the day,… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Martin
Analord

By the way, MJ is #1 with millenials while Britney is #5, and when it comes to baby boomers, MJ is… #219 ! 😆

Another thing I would note is that his posthumous album Michael (2014) sold more than Britney’s last three albums combined, i.e. 2011’s Femme Fatale, 2013’s Britney Jean and 2016’s Glory.

Martin

Again, how successful an artist is, does not determine how recognisable they are.

Analord

And what about MJ being the 219th most famous artist with baby boomers ? Surely you don’t believe that ?

Martin

It is surprising but if that’s where he is, that’s where he is and it’s not as if he’s unknown to BBs, he is known by 97% of them.

Analord

Wow…

Just so people understand, here’s what we’re talking about, i.e. the most famous musicians in the UK :

210. The Tremeloes
211. Roger Whittaker
212. Pete Townshend
213. Blondie
214. The Stylistics
215. Sandie Shaw
216. Mick Hucknall
217. Charles Aznavour
218. Cilla Black
219. Michael Jackson

And you think it’s… “surprising” ? It’s obviously total nonsense. Are you working for Yougov or something ? 😆

A S

I would argue that Britney Spears is definitely more famous than Michael Jackson today. Britney Spears was the most searched person on the Internet for seven years during the 2000s (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/most-searched-celebrities-past-12-years-britney-spears_n_2244614). Meanwhile, Michael Jackson was just the most searched up person of 2009 because of his passing away. After watching the documentary, in my opinion, she is most likely one of the most covered people ever in the media. Also, because of the ongoing court cases and the documentary, she’s been all over the news. In the end, they are both probably among the most famous singers ever and both… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by A S
Martin

He’s still recognised by 97% of 56 to 75 year olds, his placing maybe be low but it was only 3% that didn’t know who he was.

Marvin Van Der Weyde

Great article and great website. There is a minor mistake on here though. Trench Town Rock is a different song than Trench Town on the Confrontation album. Otherwise great to see how well his music still does on Spotify.

Thomas Christiansen

Hi Anthony and MJD

Thank you both! Excellent stuff!
A bit disappointed in Hells Bells streams actually, but I guess it will get there eventually. 😁

Regards Thomas

Thomas Christiansen

Mindblowing! Of course we all knew “Legend” was massive, but I had no idea Marley’s catalog was this HUGE! “this is only the 5th pre-2000 album which registers 3 songs over 100 million on Spotify. The remaining four albums are Michael Jackson‘s Thriller, Fleetwood Mac‘s Rumours, Guns N’ Roses‘ Appetite For Destruction and Nirvana‘s Nevermind.” I suspect Metallica’s Black Album and AC/DC’s Back in Black are getting close too. In fact both would most likely be there had they not been held back from streaming for years. Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” will probably join the club pretty soon too.… Read more »

Anthony Blanchard

Hi Thomas!

At least 2 other albums have achieved this incredible performance, “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and “2001” by Dr. Dre, both released in 1999.
Concerning the albums you mentionned, the 3rd biggest song for each is:
– Black Album: The Unforgiven => approx. 90m streams
– Back in Black: Hells Bells / Shoot To Thrill => approx. 50m streams
– Slippery When Wet: Wanted Dead Or Alive => approx. 75m streams

“Exodus” is still the second oldest album to reach this performance, only exceeded by “Rumours” which was released only 4 months before!

Thomas Christiansen

“About Back to Black, its 3rd and 4th biggest songs are both on 52m so while they will take time to reach 100m, but it may be one of the fisrt albums with 4 songs reaching this milestone!” I bet “Thriller” is gonna be the first to do it. I noticed in your MJ CSPC that “P.Y.T.” is about to join the big three from “Thriller” in the 100m club. Also, “Bad” is close to having 3 songs top the 100m mark (Mirror, Criminal, Feel) and a 4th song (Bad) will get their eventually too. So Michael Jackson is likely… Read more »

Thomas Christiansen

A few more to keep an eye on:

Born in the USA (3rd 64m) Jul 2017
The Wall (3rd 47m) Jun 2017
DSOTM (3rd 40m) Jun 2017
Led Zep IV (3rd 23m) Aug 2016

Martin

Some of those are are very outdated numbers, of the top of my head 3rd on LZIV is Rock & Roll on around 42m now. Although it only has one, Stairway, on around 160m that’s over 100m, Black Dog is 2nd on around 49m.

Thomas Christiansen

Oasis Morning glory
Pearl Jam Ten

Are both candidates too I guess.

Thomas Christiansen

Martin, yes these numbers are from August 2016, so I figuered they were getting higher by now

Thomas Christiansen

Thanks MJD!
Saw your great work on Oasis!
So Morning Glory is 369(!)+118+78 👍
I think I know what you meant by “Main version only” concerning Ten. Your numbers dont included live versions? Or how about remaster/compilations.
A search for Stones Satisfaction will bring like 20 results!!!

I can only find Spotify figures for the top 5 most popular tracks by each artist…🤔

Thomas Christiansen

Found the way to see all Spotify figures. Thanks 😀

Thomas Christiansen

Huge!
With Thriller and Dr Dre we have to consider 5 songs in 100m club at some point!

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