Monday, February 22, 2010

Of Pietropoli and Nickelback: The Worst of the Best

The other night, my seven-year-old son leapt up and down on the couch watching Shaun White win the men’s halfpipe. The guy had wrapped up the gold and then did an unnecessary third run and bested himself with a 48.4 score out of 50! Amazing!

How about that Manuel Pietropoli, though?


Yeah, he also competed in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. In the halfpipe. While White glided to glory, Pietropoli stunk up the joint with a 9.3 in his first qualifying run and a 5.2 in his second. He’s what you might call “the worst of the best.”

I saw a comedian years ago do a hilarious routine about a runner in the Olympics. The comedian jogged in place at the mike, pondering what the last place runner might be thinking. “Four years. Four years I trained for this. So that I could be in last place. Last place. I could have done nothing and come here and taken last place.”

Pietropoli may have come in last place (although technically a 40th contestant didn’t take either run – don’t know why) and may be a punch line, but here’s the reality: he’s still an OLYMPIAN. I often joke about how much more impressive the Olympics would be if average Joes like me competed side by side with the world’s best. Watch me flip head over heels a couple times right into the back of an ambulance or a hearse and Manuel will look like a superstar. Which, of course, he is.

By now, you’re checking the name of this blog, thinking “did this change to Dave’s Sports Database? Uh, no. This entry is dedicated to the Manuel Pietropoli’s of the music world. If Shaun White is the Sgt. Pepper of the halfpipe world, then Pietropoli is the…Nickelback. That’s right. An also ran. A mocked contender. But one that still gets to boast of being one of the elite.

Dave’s Music Database Top 1000 Albums of All Time are determined by the consolidation of hundreds of best-of-all-time album lists mixed in with sales figures, chart numbers, and album ratings from critics. The resulting list showcases a lot of the expected “winners” on top of the leader board. But what about the bottom?

If you sort all 1000 albums by critics’ ratings, the bottom ten of the list are the duds that sold by the bucket loads even as they made music snobs wince. Here’s the thing to remember, though – no matter how Pietropoli-like the scores, these albums still made the big time – the “musical Olympics.” They may be overshadowed by the Shaun White’s of the music world, but they still bested thousands of others who didn’t even make the cut.

These albums may be flash-in-the-pans, but each represents a spot on the musical landscape. You may wretch at the impact of Garth Brooks or the Spice Girls (neither of which makes this list), but they sold hoards not just because they were well marketed, but because they tapped into the public conscience. Throw your nose in the air in disgust, but the unwashed masses say you’re wrong. They scooped ‘em up – and, if you’re honest, chances are there’s something on this list that you bought as well. I’ll admit to owning three of them, but danged if I’ll admit which ones.

Enough talk. Here’s the * ahem * slightly less than the cream of the crop:

10. Elvis Presley – Blue Hawaii (1961)
9. Celine Dion – The Colour of My Love (1993)
8. New Kids on the Block – Hangin’ Tough (1988)
7. Celine Dion – Let’s Talk about Love (1997)
6. Genesis – We Can’t Dance (1991)
5. MC Hammer – Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (1990)
4. Backstreet Boys – Black & Blue (2000)
3. Britney Spears – Baby One More Time (1999)
2. Nickelback – All the Right Reasons (2005)
1. Vanilla Ice – To the Extreme (1990)

Congrats to all the competitors. You didn’t win, but despite what anyone says, you didn’t lose either.

Also check out Dave’s Music Database on Facebook.


  1. I own #6 too, Dave, but I won't admit to the other two.

  2. I can't say I actually own any of these, but Suspicious Minds is far and away my favorite Elvis song (not a huge fan overall), and I've long since had to come to terms with the fact that it skates dangerously close to the fat-guy-in-sequins stage.

    Meanwhile, I did see a promo awhile back for a contest in which the grand prize was spending some time on tour with Nickelback, I think. Really?! I also remember an interview I read awhile back with Vanilla Ice, though - his attitude could be basically summarized as "Laugh all you want - I didn't blow the money!"

    All that said, great hook for the latest entry. Very timely!