For Those About to Chart...

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Today’s another installment in our occasional series we call “Who’s On Top – And Who Should Be.” It’s the second part of the title, of course, that’s more interesting. Yeah, AC/DC’s second week at #1 is kind of interesting, if only because of how they’ve done it. As we discussed on Soundcheck last week, they signed an exclusive deal with Walmart and sold only CDs, choosing not to go the download route. But is the new AC/DC album still at #1 because it’s the very best album out there right now? Possibly, but the odds are against it.

There are very few cases where the bestselling album is also the best album at that time. That’s not musical snobbery at work – it’s just the reality of the way pop music is made. Make something palatable to a wide variety of people, hit the charts hard, and then come up with something else to follow it up. Or, in AC/DC’s case, make something that thumbs its nose at most people but plays directly to the rabid core fans (or, as politicians would say, playing to the base). But the albums that turn out to be the best of their time usually take some time – one of the things that makes them great is that they’re offbeat or idiosyncratic, and they sell over a sustained period of time, if at all. (The classic example being Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” which seems like it will continue to sell for as long as music is sold.)

AC/DC could continue to sell well for a couple of months and prove itself to actually be the best album of late 2008… but more likely, there’s an album somewhere lower down on the charts – or off them entirely – that critics and/or fans will anoint the Best Album of the time. So who is it? Our guest, Mike Wolf, will share his picks, but what about you? Do you think AC/DC is #1 for good reason, or is there something better that just hasn’t gotten the “Walmart bump”? Leave a comment.