Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 greatest singers of all time has sparked angry criticism for excluding many notable singers and focusing mostly on Americans and Britons.
Fans of the Canadian singer Céline Dion did not appreciate her exclusion from the list and gathered outside the magazine’s office in New York to say so loudly. The protest helped the publication achieve its aspiration: to be seen as the authority that extends recognition and legitimacy in the world of music and an essential part of the public discourse industry.
The metrics the magazine claims to have used — covering authenticity, popularity, and diversity — sound like they would apply perfectly to Dion, who has five Grammys to date.
Perhaps her exclusion came about because Rolling Stone also found its own rhythm, leaning toward market popularity and political correctness. And then, there are the tensions between Americans and Canadians. Could it be that the influence of many films and jokes mocking Canadians helped crowd Céline Dion out?
The magazine, founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and American music critic Ralph Gleason, also seemed to ascribe the success of non-Americans to their ability to apply American standards. So even if she had made it, Dion’s personal success story would not have been attributed to herself and her country, portrayed only as a copy of the original US success story.
Rolling Stone’s list looks like an attempt to seek power and authority over the influential world of singing and can best be described as totalitarian and reductionist.
Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday inclusion an attempt to whitewash history
Nonetheless, it was a great relief to see an artist like Aretha Franklin at the top of the list.
Even so, this choice is still questioned as it may not be purely based on her artistry, amid moves to make amends with Americans of African descent for the injustice, persecution, and discrimination they have suffered throughout history.
Ranking nine African figures at the top of the list is a stealthy attempt to disguise discrimination issues instead of highlighting them. The magazine insists on generalising the comprehensive and absolute stardom granted to these figures across the history of singing in exchange for some sort of blanket amnesty for the prejudice committed throughout history against African Americans.