AC/DC Economics
August 22, 2007 9:11 PM   Subscribe

On the Efficiency of AC/DC: Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson By Dr. Robert J. Oxoby, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Calgary (.pdf)
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium (36 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm speechless...

Also, Bon Scott was better, though Brian Johnson is okay enough.
posted by SansPoint at 9:22 PM on August 22, 2007


Saw them twice with Bon, and once with Brian. No contest. Brian is loud but Bon had Presence & Personality. RIP.

You can stick your nine-to-five living,
And your collar and your tie;
You can stick your moral standards,
Because it's all a dirty lie;
You can stick your golden handshake,
And you can stick your silly rules,
And all the other shit that you teach the kids in school.

'Cause I ain't no fool....

posted by squalor at 9:28 PM on August 22, 2007


Bon Scott, no contest. This is just more proof, as I have always suspected, that economics is basically junk science.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:36 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


4 Conclusions
The question as to who was a better singer, Bon Scott or Brian Johnson, may never truly be resolved.


Don't try to push your luck, just get outta my way.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:36 PM on August 22, 2007


On the Efficiency of AC/DC:
Being a Tesla fan, I'll choose AC over DC.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:58 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


However, our analysis suggests that in terms of affecting efficient decision making among listeners, Brian Johnson was a better singer. Our analysis has direct implications for policy and organizational design: when policymakers or employers are engaging in negotiations (or setting up environments in which other parties will negotiate) and are interested in playing the music of AC/DC, they should choose from the band’s Brian Johnson era discography.

Actually, given that "efficient" negotations is a coded way of describing rapidly concluded negotiations (in these tests, an implicit outcome of a larger set of offers generated under Johnson's vocal sway), doesn't this suggest that the listeners value the act of listening to Johnson LESS than Scott, and that therefore Johnson is in fact the least-best singer?

Imagine, if you will, a test pitting William Hung against Brian Johnson. One presumes that the decision-making and decision-making opportunities would be even faster paced.

Economics: enemy of art and contemplation. Though it had not occurred to me that Scott's work was conducive to contemplation.

One last point: in the graphs, it should be noted that the number of acceptable offers generated to the groovy sounds of either Johnson or Scott are comparable. One could equally interpret the larger number of unacceptable offers generated to the accompaniment of Johnson as noise and wasted effort, couldn't one?

I, of course, am not an economist, nor a fan of the influence the discipline wields in our society. If the study had shown Scott's vocals to be the key to world peace, I would certainly attempt to construct a counterargument.
posted by mwhybark at 9:59 PM on August 22, 2007


Do people really argue about this? How many people prefer the Johnson-era stuff?
posted by pompomtom at 10:10 PM on August 22, 2007


Actually, given that "efficient" negotations is a coded way of describing rapidly concluded negotiations (in these tests, an implicit outcome of a larger set of offers generated under Johnson's vocal sway), doesn't this suggest that the listeners value the act of listening to Johnson LESS than Scott, and that therefore Johnson is in fact the least-best singer?

By efficient they mean Pareto Efficient.

Not, of course, that it really matters - just like most of economics.
posted by vorpal bunny at 10:31 PM on August 22, 2007


Do people really argue about this?

About which AkkaDakka singer they ought to listen to in order to make more efficient decisions? I kinda wish they did, but I doubt it happens.
posted by bunglin jones at 10:32 PM on August 22, 2007


raining on your party.
posted by jourman2 at 10:34 PM on August 22, 2007


Well, just the "who's the better singer" part...

(also: so that's how you spell akkadakka... I was wondering..)
posted by pompomtom at 10:34 PM on August 22, 2007


A joke, unfortunately

Comment 14 from here:


I was curious why I was getting email about this paper. To ease everyone’s concerns, yes the paper is a joke. The paper was written using old data from a grad student studying the effects of different genres of music on behavior (following previous research identifying the effect of different genres on heart rate, etc.; her original interest was on the use of music in behavior therapy). She abandoned the project and has since disappeared from her program. The AC/DC spin was due to a mistake in the protocols: different songs were played in two sessions. As far as I know the grad student paid for the experiments. I wrote this piece while delayed in the Vancouver airport.

Costs to Canadian taxpayers, zero. Making the Freakonomics blog… priceless.

For the record, I’m not really an AC/DC fan. Thanks for the concern Dr. Levitt. I have tenure. And don’t worry, this isn’t my regular line of research.

Rob Oxoby

— Posted by Rob Oxoby

posted by wilful at 10:35 PM on August 22, 2007


Yeah. I heard him on CBC this evening. He didn't think anyone would take it seriously, and was surprised when it hit the blogosphere. I thought it would be better to post it without comment.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:48 PM on August 22, 2007


I am reminded of this.

And don’t worry, this isn’t my regular line of research.

Shame, that. Half the teenage burnouts in my hometown way back when (other than me, of course, who combined a deep and abiding love for ACDC&cars&booze&girls&weed (also known as 'Driving Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spilling Your Drink') but who also enjoyed the manifold benefits of tertiary education) would have ended up getting university educations if they'd heard about this.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:55 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Let Thomas Edison show you how dangerous AC is by electrocuting Topsy the Elephant (he had it coming).
posted by Poolio at 11:02 PM on August 22, 2007


All you people arguing over who was the better singer are missing the point entirely.

It's all about economics: the demand for a singer is inversely proportional to the dirt-cheapness of their dirty deeds.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:22 PM on August 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


(I would just like to raise a lighter in memory of Bon Scott & point out that at this very second I have 666 favourites to my name)
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:25 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


The paper itself is mildly interesting and somewhat amusing, but I'm afraid the debate rages on, as it has been completely unsatisfactorily addressed by this output from the academy.

Thank God for Youtube, because I was about 12 years old when Bon Scott died, and would never have been able to see him perform otherwise.

With all due respect to Brian Johnson, who is one of the all time great rock n roll screamers, seems to me that after Scott died, it thrust Angus Young to the role of the band frontman. A role which was kind of odd, given their style of music. From the footage I've seen with Scott, there was something really kind of perfect about AC/DC in those days, that they never really seemed to approach since. Johnson never had that same level of charisma and presence, and punk-style haughtiness that made them great.
posted by psmealey at 2:56 AM on August 23, 2007


For the first time I can feel a slight twinge of pride in having graduated from the University of Calgary
posted by Flashman at 3:55 AM on August 23, 2007


Since 1980, there has been near constant contention regarding who was the better singer.

There has? It's funny that this gets posited like this -- in my world, and with most of the AC/DC fans I know (we're all old farts who used to hear them on the San Antonio AM station KMAC in the mid-70s) AC/DC pretty well ceased to exist when Bon Scott died. There's 3 or 4 good songs on Back in Black, but that "new" guy has such a monotonous delivery that it just makes me pine for a little nuance. That's what people don't seem to get about Bon Scott -- he wasn't just all scream all the time. He was the thing that gave the band some dynamic range.

For me, like Aerosmith (okay maybe not quite that bad) AC/DC has really descended into the realm of unwitting self-parody over the last several albums. I mean what about those of us already rocking? Why don't they salute us? Huh?
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:12 AM on August 23, 2007


By the way, did you know that Highway to Hell sounds like Hey Yahweh! when played backwards?
posted by jonp72 at 5:00 AM on August 23, 2007


But, but... Brian Johnson has that hat. I love that hat.
posted by grubi at 5:57 AM on August 23, 2007


Stavros' McSweeney's link is the funniest thing ever. I've always loved that.
posted by COBRA! at 6:07 AM on August 23, 2007


In our experiment we utilize a common procedure from experimental economics en-
titled the ultimatum game (see Roth, 1995)


I assume this is the paper also known as Roth v. Hagar?
posted by luser at 6:21 AM on August 23, 2007


Rock n roll ain't noise pollution.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:44 AM on August 23, 2007


Rock n roll will never die.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:45 AM on August 23, 2007


This is a futile argument. What we really need to know is...Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth?
posted by Jimbob at 7:44 AM on August 23, 2007


Driving Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spilling Your Drink

It's my belief that my big balls should be held every night.

Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth?

Sammy Hagar solo/David Lee Roth Van Halen = good.
Sammy Hagar Van Halen/David Lee Roth solo = bad.

Done!
posted by kirkaracha at 7:50 AM on August 23, 2007


Scott may have had a better voice, but I would argue that Johnson has had better albums.

And I'm fairly confident that Bon Scott never actually died, but instead went underground for a few years, had some plastic surgery, and then started the band Rhino Bucket.
posted by quin at 9:54 AM on August 23, 2007


I prefer Brian Johnson. Just sayin'.
posted by toastchee at 10:11 AM on August 23, 2007


From Wikipedia:

Since April 2003, Johnson has been working on a musical version of Helen of Troy (after seeing Cats and) describing it as, "f-- shite, wrist-cuttingly bad".

Malcolm McDowell... has agreed to play Zeus. The Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan and Bruce Vilanch are also set to participate.


So Brian Johnson will finally take his rightful place, shoulder to shoulder with Cole Porter, on the Great White Way.
posted by luser at 10:33 AM on August 23, 2007


From Shoot to Thrill's lyrics:
I'm gonna pull it, pull it, pull the trigger
Shoot to thrill, play to kill
Too many women with too many pills
Shoot to thrill, play to kill
I got my gun at the ready, gonna fire at will
Yeah
I'm like evil, I get under your skin
Just like a bomb that's ready to blow

From It's a Long Way to the Top:

Gettin' robbed
Gettin' stoned
Gettin' beat up
Broken boned
Gettin' had
Gettin' took
I tell you folks
It's harder than it looks


Gettin' old
Gettin' grey
Gettin' ripped off
Under-paid
Gettin' sold
Second hand
That's how it goes
Playin' in a band

It's quite clear that the former set of lyrics describes poor impulse control and a megalomanic mind-set, with an emphasis on the immediate pleasures of selfish decision-making. To the contrary, the second set focuses essentially on issues of social justice, and the long-term suffering derived from the violation of social norms.

Is it really any surprise that these lyrics would have different influences on the ultimatum game? \,,/. .\,,/
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:36 AM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bon was better, although Brian is definitely no slouch. Also, AC/DC is one of those rare bands that both punkers and mulletheads love, God bless 'em.
posted by jonmc at 4:53 PM on August 23, 2007


Hagar vs. Roth? Geez... that's a bit like asking whether Coverdale was better than Plant.
posted by psmealey at 6:57 AM on August 24, 2007


AC/DC is one of those rare bands that both punkers and mulletheads love

True. However, it is my contention that anyone who likes any sort of music whatsoever (including those who only listen to Inuit throat singing or Kenny G) can find at least one AC/DC song to like. AC/DC have the funk like few other bands will ever have, and they transcend genre.

And anyone who isn't banging or at least wobbling their head (depending on age and/or physical mobility) by halfway through Jailbreak is likely legally dead (also, the goggles, they do nothing about Angus's attire in the video). (NOT JOHNSONIST)
posted by biscotti at 7:11 AM on August 24, 2007


However, it is my contention that anyone who likes any sort of music whatsoever (including those who only listen to Inuit throat singing or Kenny G)

Ah, but you see your premise is flawed, Kenny G is not music.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:32 AM on August 29, 2007


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