Long live the King - Marley dominates charts three decades after death
Sunday, February 06, 2011
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THE late Bob Marley, who would be 66 years old today, remains the king of reggae based on his continued chart dominance over contemporaries.
Marley is currently ten times more popular than Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu, five times more than Shaggy and four times more than Sean Paul based on Google trend search data which analysed the most popular living reggae artistes. This popularity translates into chart dominance despite his passing nearly 30 years ago.
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Currently, Marley albums top the charts in 19 countries based on checks on iTunes reggae albums charts including US, UK, France Australia, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Many of those country charts have more than one Marley album charting simultaneously. A tally of all Marley albums currently top 10 charting amounts to 69 spread out in 22 countries.
Digital music accounts for one-third of total music sales, and iTunes is the dominant online music retailer according to the Digital Music Report 2011 by the IFPI. His chart success is incomparable despite his passing in May 11, 1981.
Local music experts, including culture minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange and music entrepreneur Charles Campbell, have lamented the waning influence Jamaican artistes are having within international reggae markets, especially Europe and Japan. Up to this past week, less than 10 per cent of the reggae charts on iTunes were occupied by living Jamaicans — including Damian Marley, Sean Paul, Jimmy Cliff and TOK.
This apparent waning influence hasn't affected Legend by Bob Marley and the Wailers which has racked up the sales now over 20 million copies. It is currently charting in its 962nd week making it the second longest charting catalogue album according to Billboard, the US music bible. Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon is the longest charting catalogue album at 990 weeks.
Marley's influence transcends the reggae category. Last year he was listed as a top-five global icon in a CNN International poll released, affirming the popularity of the late reggae star. The US-based news agency stated that the Jamaican-born musician's status was so large that he embodied a musical form and religion.
"No performer personified reggae and Rastafari more than Bob Marley, a musical inspiration for millions. Responsible for bringing together warring factions in Jamaica, its small wonder he was honoured with a state funeral," stated CNN in a poll conducted by Icon, its arts and culture programme.
US pop singer Michael Jackson topped the list with votes nearing 100,000 according to CNN. He was followed by the UK group The Beatles, Chinese pop star Leslie Cheung, Elvis Presley of the US and Marley.