Steve Waterman (stephenh2oman) wrote,
Steve Waterman

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Steve's Favorite Band: The Extensive (And Very Ridiculous) iPod Study -- 2008

It was just a few years ago that LeighLeigh asked me who my favorite band was and I took to finding out via my iPod/iTunes statistics. The result, I like to say, was the greatest completely unnecessary and needlessly complicated statistical study in the history of determining music preferences. I called it "Steve's Favorite Band: The Extensive (And Very Ridiculous) iPod Study." The result turned out to be what I had always suspected (making the study all the more pointless): that my two favorite bands were The Stereo and Tool. Two years ago I did the study again and determined that my new favorite band was Bright Eyes. Last year my iPod was out of commission for most of the previous year so I skipped this study, but I'm happy to report it's back (and better than ever?) for 2008!

So, without further ado, here is Steve's Favorite Band: The Extensive (And Very Ridiculous) iPod Study -- 2008:

As is my custom, these numbers represent my song totals as of March 19th (because that was the date of the original as well as the birthday of LaurenLauren who led me to my first free iPod).

Here are the rules of the game. I set up a system that accounted for both quality and quantity (with a slight edge in the quality department, really). To do this I ranked all bands that qualified (we'll get to that in a second) in five separate categories and then gave the top ten bands in each category points based on their rankings in those categories. And then all the points acquired in those categories are added together to determine a final score and rank.

Those categories are:

Most Played: The total number of plays of all songs by a particular band.
Average Plays: The average plays per song by a particular band.
Top Rated: The number of stars above three stars in the iTunes rating system.
Total Stars: The total number of stars from all the songs by a particular band.
Average Rating: The average rating per song based on the five star rating system.

Also, I decided as a bonus, each band would receive one extra point on their total score for every song they had in my Top 99 Most Played Songs section. And a band would receive a three point bonus if I had consciously made an effort to download a complete album of theirs. Also -- as a bonus this year, there is a three point bonus if I have attended a concert of said band. (If it was a festival or big tour with lots of bands it only counts if I made a conscious effort to watch that band perform.)

Bands were ranked in each of the above categories. Each band in the Top 10 of those categories received points in reverse order. For instance, someone who is ranked first received 10 points; second place, nine points and so on. In the event of a tie, the points received for placing were averaged. For instance, if two bands tied for the most in a category, they would each take an average of the first and second place points, which in this case would be 9.5 points each.

For a band to qualify for this study I decided that they would have to have at least twice as many songs on my iPod than the average band. I determined that I have 1510 songs by 532 different artists, which comes to an averages of 2.83 songs per artist. As such for any artist or band to qualify for this study, they must have at least six songs in my music library. Based on that, the following 73 bands and artists qualified:

Weezer, U2, Tool, The White Stripes, The Stereo, The Postal Service, The Offspring, The Killers, The Juliana Theory, The Get Up Kids, The Cure, The Alkaline Trio, Taxpayer, Sufjan Stevens, Sublime, Stone Temple Pilots, Staind, Spoon, Soundgarden, So Close, Snot, Smashing Pumpkins, Saves The Day, Radiohead, Queen, Pixies, Pete Yorn, Pearl Jam, Panic! At The Disco, Ozzy Osbourne, Our Lady Peace, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Nickelback, New Found Glory, My Chemical Romance, Metallica, Local H, Live, Life of Agony, Kid Rock, Jimmy Eat World, Incubus, Iggy Pop, Guster, Guns N' Roses, Godsmack, Fuel, Foo Fighters, Finger Eleven, Elliott Smith, Death Cab For Cutie, David Bowie, Damien Rice, Creed, Collective Soul, Cold War Kids, Cold, Coheed & Cambria, Chris Cornell, Cake, Bush, Bright Eyes, Beck, Badly Drawn Boy, Audioslave, Arctic Monkeys, Ambulance Ltd, Alter Bridge, Alice In Chains, Aerosmith, A Perfect Circle, 3 Doors Down

And with those bands and those rules, we were ready to go. Feel free to make bets on the outcome.

Most Played: The total number of plays of all songs by a particular band.

1. 954 plays, Bright Eyes 10 points
2. 592 plays, Panic! At the Disco 9 points
3. 345 plays, The Killers 8 points
4. 320 plays, Elliott Smith 7 points
5. 288 plays, Chris Cornell 6 points
6. 278 plays, Saves the Day 5 points
7. 259 plays, Radiohead 4 points
8. 255 plays, The Stereo 3 points
9. 249 plays, Nine Inch Nails 2 points
10. 242 plays, Cold War Kids 1 point

Some things never change. Just as they were two years ago, Bright Eyes and Panic! At the Disco set the tone early with huge leads in total play count. While Panic! At the Disco hasn't really gotten that many more plays since two years ago, Bright Eyes just continues to be a juggernaut with almost twice as many plays as second place. Chris Cornell shows some improvement as well as newcomers Cold War Kids.

Average Plays: The average plays per song by a particular band.

1. 42.29 plays, Panic! At the Disco 10 points
2. 34.57 plays, Cold War Kids 9 points
3. 31.36 plays, The Killers 8 points
4. 28.90 plays, Bright Eyes 7 points
5. 24.50 plays, Cake 6 points
6. 23.55 plays, Radiohead 5 points
7. 22.43 plays, Foo Fighters 4 points
8. 22.15 plays, Chris Cornell 3 points
9. 22.14 plays, Arctic Monkeys 2 points
10. 21.33 plays, Elliott Smith 1 point

Average Plays are up overall. I suppose this shouldn't be that surprising. It has been two years since I did the study. Panic! At the Disco is even more ahead of the field than they were last time. Mostly due to the fact that I haven't downloaded any new songs of theirs since then. Fiona Apple and David Bowie leave the most average plays list this time, while Cold War Kids, Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters step up and make it. Elliott Smith still does well just because I play "Waltz #2" and "Miss Misery" so often.

Top Rated: The number of stars above three stars in the iTunes rating system. (Which allows a maximum of a five star rating.) So a four star rating is worth one point and a five star song is worth two.

1. 22 stars, Bright Eyes 10 points
t-2. 16 stars, The Stereo 8.5 points
t-2. 16 stars, Tool 8.5 points
4. 15 stars, Nine Inch Nails 7 points
t-5. 13 stars, Alice in Chains 6 points
t-6. 12 stars, Chris Cornell 4 points
t-6. 12 stars, Elliott Smith 4 points
t-6. 12 stars, Stone Temple Pilots 4 points
t-9. 11 stars, Panic! At the Disco 0.6 points
t-9. 11 stars, Saves the Day 0.6 points
t-9. 11 stars, Queen 0.6 points
t-9. 11 stars, Pearl Jam 0.6 points
t-9. 11 stars, Aerosmith 0.6 points

Last we did this, Bright Eyes was still in third place, but since then I have downloaded many more songs of theirs and often rated them very highly. As one might expect, they not lead the way and have a dominating six-star lead over second place -- where my two ex-favorite bands are still tied, after all these years. And as ever, my 90's rock favorites are still here to remind me of better days.

Total Stars The total number of stars from all the songs by a particular band.

1. 121 stars, Bright Eyes 10 points
2. 79 stars, Tool 9 points
3. 76 stars, The Stereo 8 points
4. 68 stars, Pearl Jam 7 points
5. 63 stars, My Chemical Romance 6 points
6. 62 stars, Nine Inch Nails 5 points
7. 59 stars, Aerosmith 4 points
8. 57 stars, Elliott Smith 3 points
t-9. 56 stars, Saves the Day 1 point
t-9. 56 stars, Staind 1 point
t-9. 56 stars, Creed 1 point

Originally this category was going to be "Total Songs" and simply had everyone ranked according to how many total songs of theirs I had. But what I found was that there were a lot of bands who had huge amounts of songs listed because of the way I downloaded songs at UNH (Just put in a band name and download everything that came up). By basing it on how many total stars a band has if you have slightly less total songs, but songs that are all highly rated you may move ahead of where you'd have been otherwise. While someone who has lots of total songs that are rated a bit lower would go down the list a bit. Anyway, it made for fairer rating.

The last time I did this Bright Eyes was still ahead, but only by two stars over second place. This time? A whopping 42! My two former favorite bands -- Tool and the Stereo -- have exactly as many stars as they did two years ago. This means I haven't downloaded any new songs of theirs in over two years. With the Stereo, because they broke up, but with Tool? I don't know... Maynard just got too weird on me. Puscifer? "Cuntry Boner"? What?

Also, nice showing by newcomer My Chemical Romance. Hooray!

Average Rating The average rating per song based on the five star rating system.

t-1. 4.13 stars, Cake 9.5 points
t-1. 4.13 stars, Live 9.5 points
3. 4.11 stars, Smashing Pumpkins 8 points
4. 4.10 stars, Queen 7 points
t-5. 4.00 stars, A Perfect Circle 4.5 points
t-5. 4.00 stars, Metallica 4.5 points
t-5. 4.00 stars, Sublime 4.5 points
t-5. 4.00 stars, Foo Fighters 4.55 points
t-6. 3.92 stars, Alice in Chains 1.5 points
t-6. 3.92 stars, Chris Cornell 1.5 points

This is perhaps the toughest category to maintain a high ranking in from year to year. If you rate very high this way I'll download more of your songs, and then rate them lower and bring down your average, so it becomes a tricky line to walk in the quality rating vs quantity of songs department. The last two times I did this, Radiohead was #1. This time? They're just out of the top 10 at 3.90 stars per song. Too bad.

Completely to my amazement, Smashing Pumpkins comes in third anchored by the five-star rating of their cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide."

Bonus Points!

The following bands received bonus points for having songs on my Top 99 Most Played Songs list:

Bright Eyes +10

Panic! At the Disco +9

Cake +2
Smashing Pumpkins +2
Chris Cornell +2
The Killers +2
Cold War Kids +2
Saves the Day +2
Arctic Monkeys +2
My Chemical Romance +2

Queen +1
Foo Fighters +1
Radiohead +1
The White Stripes +1
Beck +1
Sufjan Stevens +1
David Bowie +1
Local H +1
Audioslave +1
The Stereo +1
Nine Inch Nails +1
Death Cab For Cutie +1
Pearl Jam +1
Damien Rice +1
Pixies +1
Taxpayer +1
Our Lady Peace +1
Coheed & Cambria +1
Badly Drawn Boy +1

The following bands received three bonus points each because I went out of my way to download their entire albums:

Alter Bridge +3
Bright Eyes +3
Chris Cornell +3
Jimmy Eat World +3
The Killers +3
My Chemical Romance +3
Our Lady Peace +3
Panic! At the Disco +3
Snot +3
Taxpayer +3
Tool +3

And this one gets 1.5 because it was an EP, and because it's So Close and I like making up excuses to give them free points (and yet still gyp them at the same time):

So Close +1.5

And -- new this year! The following bands received three bonus points each because I saw them in concert at least once:

A Perfect Circle +3
Aerosmith +3
Bright Eyes +3
Cake +3
Foo Fighters +3
The Killers +3
New Found Glory +3
Panic! At the Disco +3
Saves the Day +3
So Close +3
The Stereo +3
Stone Temple Pilots +3
Taxpayer +3

Close, But No Cigar

First of all, let's give a round of applause for all those who were nominated. It's not easy to be liked by Steve, so they should all be proud. Here are all the bands that did not score any points:

Weezer (-3), U2 (-3), The Postal Service (-3), The Offspring (-3), The Juliana Theory (-3), The Get Up Kids (-3), The Cure (-3), The Alkaline Trio (-3), Spoon (NPR), Soundgarden (-3), Pete Yorn (-3), Ozzy Osbourne (-3), Nirvana (-3), Nickelback (-12), Life of Agony (NPR), Kid Rock (-3), Incubus (-3), Iggy Pop (NPR), Guster (NPR), Guns N' Roses (-3), Godsmack (-3), Fuel (-3), Finger Eleven (-3), Collective Soul (-3), Cold (-3), Bush (-3), Ambulance Ltd (-3), 3 Doors Down (-3)

Thanks for playing guys. They tell me it's an honor just to be nominated. Still, none of you are my favorite band. Although you could say that you are all technically tied as my 46th favorite band.

(You'll also notice beside their name is a number that notes how many places they've moved from last year. Most of these bands have moved down three spots. "NPR" denotes "Not Previously Ranked." "NC" denotes "No Change.")

Next, let's give credit to those who did score some points, but didn't make the Top 10. In descending order:

t-33. The White Stripes 1 Total Point (+3)
t-33. Sufjan Stevens 1 Total Point (NPR)
t-33. Staind 1 Total Point (-15)
t-33. Pixies 1 Total Point (+3)
t-33. Local H 1 Total Point (-16)
t-33. Death Cab For Cutie 1 Total Point (NC)
t-33. David Bowie 1 Total Point (-12)
t-33. Damien Rice 1 Total Point (+10)
t-33. Creed 1 Total Point (-15)
t-33. Coheed & Cambria 1 Total Point (+10)
t-33. Beck 1 Total Point (NPR) "Hey, I like Beck, too."
t-33. Badly Drawn Boy1 Total Point (+3)
t-33. Audioslave 1 Total Point (+3)

t-29. Snot 3 Total Points (-6)
t-29. New Found Glory 3 Total Points (+14)
t-29. Jimmy Eat World 3 Total Points (-6)
t-29. Alter Bridge 3 Total Points (-6)

t-27. Our Lady Peace 4 Total Points (-12)
t-27. Arctic Monkeys 4 Total Points (+9)

t-24. Sublime 4.5 Total Points (+3)
t-24. So Close 4.5 Total Points (+10)
t-24. Metallica 4.5 Total Points (+3)

t-22. Taxpayer 7 Total Points (-1)
t-22. Stone Temple Pilots 7 Total Points (+21)

t-20. Alice in Chains 7.5 Total Points (-9)
t-20. A Perfect Circle 7.5 Total Points (+7)

19. Aerosmith 7.6 Total Points (+4)

t-17. Queen 8.6 Total Points (-9)
t-17. Pearl Jam 8.6 Total Points (-2)

16. Live 9.5 Total Points (-2)

t-14. Smashing Pumpkins 10 Total Points (NPR)
t-14. Radiohead 10 Total Points (-10)

13. My Chemical Romance 11 Total Points (NPR)

12. Saves the Day 11.6 Total Points (-6)

11. Cold War Kids 12 Total Points (NPR)

Good work bands. I like you all a bit more than the bands listed above you (Well, except Alter Bridge and Snot who are just here because I downloaded their entire albums to check them out and never deleted those songs). Newcomer Cold War Kids just miss the Top 10. I'm a little disappointed to see that Queen has dropped out of the top 10 to a tie for 17, but I suppose that's what happens when you're not able to put out any new work. Radiohead, after my downloading many more of their songs has trouble when it comes to maintaing quality vs quantity. Anyway, any of these bands would be reasonably good choices for you if you wanted to buy me tickets to a concert.

And without further ado...

Steve's Top 10 Favorite Bands (Statistically-speaking, anyway)

10. Foo Fighters - 12.5 Total Points (+17) - Hey, I'm as surprised as you are. They took the second biggest jump forward out of anyone who was on this list two years ago. This is mostly due to my overplaying of "DOA" and "Walking After You" and the fact that my first concert ever was a Foo Fighters/Chili Peppers show. Anyway, I find this particularly funny because over the weekend I was sort of half-heartedly defending them to Jeff. Who knew they were actually one of my favorite bands?

9. Nine Inch Nails - 15 Total Points (+9) - These guys also made a big jump up the list, which is good, because I sort of felt like they got shortchanged in studies past. I remember buying their double CD album The Fragile back in high school and just playing it non-stop. I still love "We're In This Together" and I even like a lot of their new songs like "Capital G" and "The Hand that Feeds."

8. Elliott Smith - 17 Total Points (+1) - I still don't really know his catalog that well, but I tend to like what I come across. He's mostly here due to "Miss Misery" and "Waltz #2," which of course, I'd still like to waltz to some time. Preferably in a plain white room, with a plain white girl.

7. Chris Cornell - 19.5 Total Points (+5) - I'm glad he's here too. I loved his first album Euphoria Morning. I still really haven't heard the second one. He actually would have been a few spots higher on this list, but due to some weird International shipping issues, I didn't get tickets to his concert over the summer like I had originally planned. Instead I saw Grindhouse. Hooray!

5. (tie) Tool and Cake- 20.5 Total Points (No Change and +5) - Tool actually maintains their fifth place spot somehow. I haven't really liked anything too much since Aenima, but you know, I'm always in the mood for "Prison Sex." Uh, take that however you need to.

Cake has just continued to do well since I saw their free concert in Boston. Nothing new to report, but I guess more plays of old songs equals increase in rankings. Good for them.

4. The Stereo - 23.5 Total Points (-1) - Another couple years pass and the Stereo drop a little bit more. I never got into Jamie's new band and it's not like they're putting out any new songs. Still, I guess it's a little sad. I miss the Stereo.

3. The Killers - 24 Total Points (+3) - Yup, they're still good. Last year I went to a concert of theirs and almost got in a fight. It was fun and the music was good. And that concert is pretty much why they've moved up.

2. Panic! At the Disco - 35 Total Points (No Change) - Yeah, they're still in second. My love affair with their first major album propelled them all the way to number two and apparently it was a pretty intense affair, because they are still here and don't look ready to move any time soon. I'm not all that impressed with the first single from their new album, but we'll see. Maybe there is a sequel to this love affair.

1. Bright Eyes - 46 Total Points (No Change) - Who else but Bright Eyes? This is the least surprising thing ever. I've downloaded and overplayed many additional songs since our last study and I even finally tricked someone into going to a Bright Eyes concert with me. It's amazing how far beyond the other competition they are. Good for Bright Eyes.

And just because I'm super cool, I put the Excel chart I used to calculate all this online for you to see/download so that you can marvel at my excellence/geekiness/excellent geekiness or have a template to do your own ridiculous study (like anyone else would): itunes.xls

(Note: If you highlight the top cell in a column in Excel and click the AZ/ZA buttons you can see how each band ranks in each of the various categories.)
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