Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


A fanzine writer once observed that sometimes a copy of a copy can be better than the original. But when it comes to pop music, where originality is about as prized as diversity, the real question is whether a copy of a copy can sell better than the original (or its copy). Certainly, to look at the progression from the Lawrence Welk Hotsy-Totsy Boys to the Bee Gees to Hanson is to understand that quality doesn’t vary much in aural ready-mades. Quantity of sales, however, does:

ORIGINAL SECOND GENERATION THIRD GENERATION
Jackson 5
1 million
New Edition
2 million
Backstreet Boys
1 million
Rolling Stones*(’60s-’70s)
6 million
Rolling Stones*(’80s)
4 million
Rolling Stones*(’90s)
2 million
Barbara Streisand
5 million
Whitney Houston
16 million
Celine Dion
9 million
Velvet Underground
233,000
Galaxie 500*
60,000
Luna*
54,000
The Beatles
16 million
The Monkees
5 million
Oasis
4 million
Led Zeppelin
16 million
Soundgarden
5 million
Pearl Jam
10 million

Research by Tracy Hamilton and Katie Isenberg. Figures reflect sales of best-selling album.
*Indicates that bands share actual genetic makeup or members.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate