How the Top 100 Countdown Works (or, ‘Know Your Role, Part Deux’)

It seems we have once again reached a point where the matter of how the Top 100 Soul/R&B songs list was compiled needs to be addressed.

I began this series of posts because I wanted us, the SB Team, to be able to write about songs we personally enjoy and to give the readers an idea of our musical perspective. It was intended to be fun, a mere supplement to the mandated updating and other features that we generate for the site. Technically, I should probably overlook the voices of dissent in recent comments, but after much internal discussion, it was decided that perhaps I should defend my team and our methods, and shine some light on the situation before it gets ugly.

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I’m fully capable of getting ugly, but we don’t want that, do we?

My understanding of a comment like “This should be number one” or “This should be in the Top 10” is more or less a reader expressing his/her love for that selection. We don’t have a problem with this in the least. When it becomes: “These rankings just lost all credibility,” as was asserted on the recent Sam Cooke post, we take exception. A response like that carries with it a subtext of entitlement, as if this website and the editors of this site are to defer to the whims of every single person that comes through the door like an indentured servant.

The following were not a criteria when ranking/compiling this list:

  • Historical significance or importance.
  • Sales / chart-ranking.
  • Impact.
  • General popularity.

So, maybe that’s why some songs that are considered classics are ranked so “low”. While I have a great deal of reverence and respect for Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”, as a listener, it’s not something I would play everyday. It’s a great song, but not a fave. We can totally respect a song without it being a favorite and understand the difference. Frankly, we will not base this list on what we as listeners (and for that matter, Black people) are trained to or expected to like. Welcome to SoulBounce.

Something else that needs to be pointed out: There’s a misconception that this list is somehow ranked from worst to best. Like, if a song is on the lower side of half, then it’s a crappy song. Newsflash: In a list of 100, there’s virtually no such thing as a “low” ranking. The fact that the song is being counted at all should matter most.

Another thing. You’d be surprised to know that no single editor of this site is 100% pleased with the outcome of this list. We’re a team, not a monolith. Everything was done democratically. There was surprise. There was compromise. Oftentimes, we completely agree with your complaints, but guess what? We stand by our work.

So, I apologize if the intent of this list was misconstrued, or doesn’t meet your individual expectations. Perhaps a time will come when we countdown classics for the sake of classics, but today is not that day. Telling us that we’ve lost credibility because we don’t rank a song the way you think it should be ranked is like telling me my favorite book should be Roots when it’s The Coldest Winter Ever. Again I stress, OUR LIST. 

More than likely, I’ll have to reiterate this message in the coming weeks, as we’ll have amassed more readers that haven’t been subjected to my side-eye but need to similarly have their spirits reorganized. If you want to have a rant session, the feedback of this post would be where and when to do it. Otherwise, let go and let God.

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