Butt-head Science

graphical representations of pop songs

By now, “graphical representations of pop songs” like the one above have probably already weaseled their way past your spam filter and into your inbox, together with viagra and fake rolex watches and whatnot. I was sent a half a dozen or so of them from my friend Chris-O, who is obviously spending a few too many hours procrastinating from his thesis about the withdrawal symptoms of methamphetamine.

Someone has kindly uploaded ’em all over here. And if rap is more your thing, you might find these mildly amusing. But whoa, google around a little more and you find hundreds of the little critters. Phew. I think I was happier when I thought there were only six.

Anyway, Chris-O, being the veteran timewaster that he is, said these graphs are all made on a programme called Microsoft Excel, which is apparently useless for anything else. It takes “no time at all”. To prove it, he whipped up a custom AC/DC graph for me. And here it is:

relative distance to the top as a factor of desire to rock and roll
[Relative Distance to The Top as a Factor of Desire to Rock and Roll: a study of seven bands from the 20th Century, by Chris Cruickshank.]

* * *

Meanwhile, other random acca dacca stuff in my inbox… Here’s a text message I received from an unknown source at 1:26am this morning. It reads:

Hey lucas i’m
watching beavis
and butthead
and one of them
wears an ac/dc
shirt! reckon
he’s a bon fan? 🙂

Well, dear mystery correspondent, being the pop-culture dunce that I am, I really couldn’t say. I have no idea if there are any other character traits in Beavis and/or Butthead that would mean they are Bon (as opposed to Brian) fans. But I can confirm that your “Beavis and Butthead wear AC/DC shirts” report is indeed correct. Indeed, the infallible Wikipedia states:

Beavis typically wears a blue Metallica T-shirt (in some earlier episodes, a Slayer T-shirt), while Butt-head is usually seen wearing a gray AC/DC T-shirt. (On some merchandising items these shirts were changed to read “Skull” and “Death Rock” due to trademark and licensing issues.)

And here are a few pictures to prove it:
butt-head in ac/dc shirt

butt-head in ac/dc shirt with pamela anderson

Ugly lil fellas eh?

* * *

Also in the “you’ve probably already seen it but it was news to me” category (as well as the “Chris-O has nothing to do but barrage me with all this trivia” category) last year this report came out:
On the Efficiency of AC/DC: Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson.

It was an experiment in economics – an attempt to determine which of the two singers was more conducive to efficient economic behaviour. Subjects were played one song from the Bon era – It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock and Roll) – and one from the Brian era – Shoot to Thrill – while they answered a questionnaire about relative levels of generosity in economic exchange. The results showed that “in terms of affecting efficient decision-making among listeners, Brian Johnson is the better singer”.

Now, any contest in which Brian comes out on top is bound to spark enraged debate. In this case, the internet was hammered with a whole lotta protests from enraged fans who didn’t realise until too late that it was actually all a big joke.

Chris-O, being the rigorous scientist that he is, wrote to me to explain some of the “severe reservations” he had with the experiment:

1) The outcome measure was the effect of listening to the songs on the efficiency of decision-making. Brian Johnson was found to enhance decision making which was taken to indicate that he is a better singer than Bon Scott. I would argue that BECAUSE listening to Long Way to the Top negatively affects efficient decision making, this means that BS is more distracting – i.e. commands more attention – ergo, is better.

2) More than one song from each of the respective singers’ repertoires should have been trialled in order to get an aggregate measure rather than a single, less reliable indication

3) The experiments were conducted among Canadians.

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