June 21, 2012

Elvis Costello and the Attractions - Armed Forces (Radar, 1979)

Elvis Costello and the Attractions - Armed Forces
A shit record! Most feel Declan's a rotten vocalist.

  1. "Declan": This is Elvis Costello's real name. You heard it here first!


Anonymous said...

In your FAQ section, you state "The research comes afterward, when we try to verify the anagram's claims."

How did you verify that most people feel Costello is a rotten vocalist? Most people I know feel he's an amazing vocalist.

Dr Hesselius said...

How did you verify that most people feel Costello is a rotten vocalist? Most people I know feel he's an amazing vocalist.

How many people do you know? (Please round down or up to the nearest whole number.)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, how did you verify your results?

Dr Hesselius said...

Look, we've all known squalid little provincials who think that the point of aesthetic judgment is to elevate their own middlebrow preferences to a Cosmic Principle. And that's fine. A spoonful of medicine helps the sugar go down; there'd be little profit in listening to most artists without adopting pretensions of this sort.

But we try to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Unlike some people, we understand that our personal opinion of Elvis Costello is of no consequence in the scheme of things. We try to restrict ourselves to logic and facts. Which is why we notice a couple of points you're overlooking.

First, the statement you're getting so excited about says "try to verify." This doesn't imply that we have ironclad supporting evidence for every single anagram here, and an assumption to the contrary on your part is not a methodological crisis on our part. What matters is, we found enough ironclad supporting evidence for enough anagrams to view the unverified ones as worthy of your careful attention or -- better yet -- your immediate assent.

Second, it's silly to debate this issue without a clear idea of what "most people" means. Does it mean "most of the people who have ever lived, since the dawn of time"? If so, we think it's fair to say that if you were to strut around the Parthenon in 420 BC blaring Imperial Bedroom, "most people" would think it sucked. The same goes for the terraces of Regency England, the longhouses of Micronesia and the freezing hovels of the Muscovy kholops. If past generations get a vote -- and why shouldn't they? -- Elvis Costello's admirers would obviously be a tiny, despised minority. If you don't believe us, get out your abacus and do the goddamn math.

If we're limiting ourselves to living citizens of today's modern world, with its Internets and e-Phones and such...well, there are six billion people on Earth, the majority of whom have never heard Elvis Costello. If Our Hero somehow managed to move 300 million units to 300 million different people worldwide -- which, we hasten to add, he hasn't -- he would've won over a mere 5 percent of the planet's population. To predict that most people now living do not or would not consider him "a rotten vocalist," we'd have to assume that more than 45 percent of the remaining population of 5.7 billion people (and counting!) would give him two thumbs up either right now, or when they're old and financially secure enough to take an interest in pop music. Does it really seem plausible to you that Elvis Costello has an untapped market of 2,565,000,001 fans?

If it does, we've got a record to sell you by this guy from Austin who's, like, a total genius.

Is it possible to quibble with our methods here? Sure. But we submit that they're a lot more rigorous and fair-minded than assuming that "most people" is simply "most people I know" writ large.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough.

dick handler said...

the Dr's response needs to be chiseled in stone and placed in a public square