Friday, November 7, 2014

When I turned 64: Secret Ballot Results

First of all, the results in summary chart form (click on the chart and you'll see a larger version of it):

(You'll find more detail below, along with learning how I voted!)

 The story behind the vote

As noted in "When I Turned 64: The Great Beatles Party," as people came to our home, we asked them to identify Beatles themed food items (see and also to cast a "secret ballot" for their favorite Beatles favorite Beatles songs (I allowed up to 5), favorite album, least favorite Beatles song, and least favorite album.  A few people refused to pick a least favorite album, or said they didn't have one.

Only 25 of the 52 people who attended cast a ballot.  (Sounds like a regular election, huh?)  About the only thing everyone had in common is that they had come to my party.  The voters included Beatles experts and emphatically non-Beatles experts.  The youngest voter was 8 years old; the oldest was 64, I believe.  (That would be me.)  I'll reveal my personal preferences after I've given the full results, first with explanations and commentary and then in chart form.

Here are the results:

(1) Favorite Beatle: Paul won by a landslide (13 out of 25 votes)

The others in order were Ringo (5), George (4) and John (2).  A bit surprising.

(2) Favorite Beatles songs: The winner was "Eleanor Rigby" (7 votes), followed by "Here Comes the Sun" (6) "Let It Be" (5),  "Hey Jude" and "Blackbird" (4 each) and five other songs that tied for 6th place with 3 votes each: "Penny Lane," "Something," "A Hard Day's Night," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and "I Will."

Those with 2 votes were "She Loves You," "Help!," "Yesterday," "Norwegian Wood," "In My Life," "Yellow Submarine," "A Day in the Life," "Rocky Raccoon" (interesting), "Octopus's Garden," and "Across the Universe."

(3) Favorite Beatles albums: The winner was Abbey Road (with 5 votes), followed by Revolver (4) and three others that tied with 3 votes each (Rubber SoulSgt. Pepper's, and Let It Be).  Interesting results.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the results may be distorted a bit by some voters' lack of thorough knowledge of all the albums.  I say that partly because one of the voters told me he didn't really know which was the best album: he voted for Abbey Road because it was the only one he could think of (or picture the cover of).

I also thought it was odd that Let It Be ranked as high as it did when it's overall one of my less favorite albums.  But I realized that its title coincides with that of one of the most popular of the Beatles' songs and that the album includes at least three other celebrated tracks: "Across the Universe," "The Long and Winding Road," and "Get Back."  So either others don't share my indifference toward, or in some cases active disliking of, four or five of the other tracks, or else they like the more popular tracks enough to overcome any less than enthusiastic feelings about the others.

The popularity of particular tracks may also help explain the popularity of Abbey Road ("Here Comes the Sun" was the second favorite Beatles song in this poll) and Revolver ("Eleanor Rigby" was the favorite).  When I tried ranking albums by the number of "favorite" votes the songs had received (and subtracted the votes for least favorite), I ended up with almost exactly the same results, except for the intervention of two albums with lots of popular songs: Abbey Road and Revolver tied for first place and were followed by Let It Be, then by Magical Mystery Tour and Hard Day's Night, and then by Rubber Soul, and Sgt. Pepper's.  (Using this method, the next albums were Help! and The Beatles, then Beatles for Sale, then With the Beatles and Yellow Submarine, and finally Please Please Me.)

(4) Least favorite Beatles song: The clear winner was "Revolution 9" (on the "White Album")--which, as someone pointed out, is not really a song.  There was no clear consensus for second place, though one odd result was that some songs had votes as both favorite and least favorite.  (The songs with the most mixed results were "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (+3, -2); "Love Me Do" (+1, -1), "Yellow Submarine" (+2, -2), "Strawberry Fields Forever" (+1, -1), "While My Guitar" (+1, -1), "Everybody's Got Something to Hide" (+1, -1), and "Octopus's Garden" (+2, -1).  Also, "Here Comes the Sun" (ranking 2nd in positive votes) got one negative vote.

Someone also pointed out that most of the votes (for least favorite) were for well-known songs that people didn't care for.  Only those who know all 211 songs that were listed on the ballot might be aware of how bad a few of the more obscure songs are.  (I'm thinking, for instance, of my personal least favorite: "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)."  Of course, this isn't a real song either--at least not an attempt at a good one.)

(5) Least favorite Beatles albums: Again there was a clear "winner"--Yellow Submarine.  The only problem is that it's not really an album in the sense the others are.  It has only four new songs, repeats two from other albums, and then has orchestral music by George Martin.  I should probably have asked what your least favorite album is other than Yellow Submarine.

The others with negative votes included Help! (2 negative votes, but also 2 positive ones), three that had two negative votes each (Please Please Me, With the Beatles, and The Beatles), and three that had one negative vote, along with several positive ones (Abbey Road, Rubber Soul, and Sgt. Pepper's).

My personal favorites and non-favorites

My votes don't match those of the 25 voters very well--though there's some overlap.  Like 12 of the others, I voted for Paul as my favorite Beatle.  I admire John, but it's harder to like him.

My favorite songs were "Penny Lane," "Here Comes the Sun," "We Can Work It Out," "In My Life," "Yesterday," and "If I Fell."  (Oops!  That's six--I guess we'll maybe put "If I Fell" at the top of my next 5.)  Two of these were among the voters' top 10; "In My Life" and "Yesterday" also got a vote each from other voters.  I am also quite fond of others the voters ranked high, such as "Eleanor Rigby," "Hey Jude," "Let It Be," "Blackbird," and "Help!"

My favorite album is Rubber Soul, closely followed by Revolver and Beatles for Sale.  I clearly like the Beatles as superb songwriters and am happy to see them exploring styles and moods.  But I don't enjoy them as much when they're being experimental and self-consciously artsy.  I think Sgt. Pepper's is a great album, a brilliant one, and it has some great songs.  But as a whole I don't enjoy it as much as some of the others.  I also quite enjoy Help!, Abbey Road, Magical Mystery Tour, and With the Beatles, and there's lots of good stuff on A Hard Day's Night and Please Please Me as well.

My least favorite song as noted above is "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)."  Others I don't care for include "The Ballad of John and Yoko," "Mr. Moonlight," "Flying," "Wild Honey Pie" (OK--not really a song), "Don't Pass Me By" (someone said this one is so bad it's almost good), "Why Don't We Do It in the Road," "Yer Blues," "Sexy Sadie," "Long, Long, Long," "Revolution 9," "Sun King," "Dig It," "Maggie Mae," and the Let It Be version of "One After 909."  And there are others I don't especially like.

My least favorite album is Yellow Submarine--but, as with many others, that's mostly because it's not much of an album.  The others I don't care for are Let It Be (despite 5 or 6 songs I quite like) and the "White Album" (The Beatles)--long, uneven, and self-indulgent; yet it has some of my favorites: "Back in the USSR"; "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"; "While My Guitar"; "Blackbird"; "Rocky Raccoon"; "Julia"; "Birthday"; "Mother Nature's Son"; and "Cry Baby Cry."  "Savoy Truffle," "Piggies," and "Good Night" are fun too.  So if it were reduced to one album, with at least 12 of the 30 songs eliminated, it might rank much higher.

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