Fixing The Billboard Music Charts

Sasha Frere-Jones interviews chart analyst Chris Molanphy:

SFJ: …Why do you think it’s so hard for the pop and R. & B. categories to fall back into some sort of accurate shape?

CM: I wrote a piece for Slate back in December that seems relevant here. A couple of weeks before the end of the year, I noticed there had not been a single No. 1 record on the Hot 100 by a black person; 2013 was the first time that had happened. In the article, I alluded to the idea that we’re in a so-called “post-racial,” Obama-era America. There’s this sense that we, as Americans and as music fans, want to move beyond this and pretend that these genres don’t exist and good music is good music.

That’s bullshit. Even if the definitions of these genres are harder to define than they were fifteen or twenty years ago, they’re still subcultures from which interesting music emerges and bubbles up, and also still subcultures where stuff from the top pushes down.