The top popular music acts of all time

As teased last week, Jon Dawson, Justin “The Kid” Hill and I taped a podcast (which you can hear in full stereophonic glory here) in which we discussed the top pop music acts in history.

As you can hear in the podcast, there was much disagreement. I’m 43 and a hip-hop fan, so my top 10 was a bit different than 26-year-old Justin’s list — although we agreed on more than our resident musical expert’s list.

It was a fun show and the format is one we’re going to copy in upcoming podcasts — doing lists and such. Let me know what you’d like to hear us rank.

Here’s our top 10s:


1. The Beatles

2. Elvis Presley

3. Michael Jackson

4. U2

5. The Rolling Stones

6. The Who

7. Madonna

8. Aerosmith

9. Run-DMC

10. Chuck Berry

Top honorable mentions: Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, NWA and Queen


1. The Beatles

2. Michael Jackson

3. Elvis Presley

4. Madonna

5. Elton John

6. The Who

7. Stevie Wonder

8. Queen

9. The Rolling Stones

10. Mariah Carey

Top honorable mentions: Jack White, Nirvana, Billy Joel and The Pixies


1. Chuck Berry

2. Little Richard

3. Buddy Holly

4. James Brown

5. Otis Redding

6. The Who

7. Pink Floyd

8. Allman Brothers

9. R.E.M.

10. Beck

Top honorable mentions: Link Wray, U2, Aretha Franklin, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Elton John

My take: REALLY can’t understand how Dawson doesn’t have The Beatles, Elvis or Michael Jackson in his top 15 … but he does know more about music than I do.

The only act all three of us had in our top 10 was The Who.

Bear in mind these aren’t our favorite acts — it’s who we thought were the top pop acts of all time.

I’d love to see yours — post them below or email them to me at and I’ll post them in the comments. Also, check out the podcast to hear explanations of our top 10s.

Morning News Report; March 29, 2012


Put this down as one of the coolest stories of the past few weeks — the owner of the Chinese restaurant that was robbed Tuesday night on Vernon Ave. attempted to shoot the man who robbed him. However, his gun wouldn’t fire.

The restaurant owner — Min Feng Chen — said it won’t happen next time, ’cause his gun WILL work.

My take: Reminds me of the story about Calvin Tso at the old China King getting robbed — and Mr. Calvin popped a cap in the robber and killed him (tried to find the link on and came up dry).

Listen, I have ABSOLUTELY NO problem with someone defending their property, business or family with a gun. That’s the beauty of our country — mess with a man’s property, business or family and like Mr. Calvin did — you might be carried off by the coroner’s office.

Do your thing, Mr. Min Feng Chen.


The CDC reports one in every 88 children has autism — a number that is almost double what it was just 10 years ago. In boys, autism is more pronounced, as one in 54 have it.

My take: That news staggers me. I have a few friends, including FOB Randy Capps, who have children with autism — and I admire those parents greatly who do such a great job with their kids with autism.

Why is autism in children increasing? We hear the numbers and read the stories about the children, but why — in 2012 — can’t we solve this?

Again, my hat is off to Randy and his lovely wife Shanna, who are simply awesome parents to Ethan — and to all those parents who are helping their children with autism.


Apple faces a class-action lawsuit about its’ Siri function — a false advertising suit claiming the voice-activated feature doesn’t do what it’s advertised to do.

My take: I’ve still got my year-old iPhone 4 without the Siri function — but even when I played around with some friends’ 4S, I realized it wasn’t what was advertised. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this case.

The iPod shuffle

Say Say Say — Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney

Beautiful Day — U2

While You See A Chance — Steve Winwood

Here Comes The Sun — The Beatles

All The Above — On The Rocks

P.S.: Really looking forward to taping this week’s Free Press Radio Program with Jon “Music Elitist” Dawson and Justin “The Kid” Hill this afternoon — we’re going to each share our top 10 pop music acts in history. Dawson’s criteria for the lists includes most original, scope of influence and staying power. Of course, Dawson’s list is going to include seven acts you’ve NEVER heard of … but that’s how he’s earned his “music elitist” title!

Hint: you might see U2 in my list. I’ll post mine here later this afternoon, along with the link to the podcast so you can hear what Dawson and Hill think.

P.P.S.S.: I had a great morning at Seymour Johnson AFB welcoming home Jeff Stephens and Ashton Brinson, who are home after spending eight months in Afghanistan. I’m writing a story for tomorrow’s FP and I’ve got some extra pictures I’m going to share here on the blog.

I’m sure I’ll say this later, but let me say this here: Jeff and Ashton are HEROES — true heroes who put their lives on the line to make sure we still have our freedoms. If you know either of them, please welcome them home!

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 29, 2012


Davy Jones, lead singer of the iconic ’60s group The Monkees, died today at the age of 66.

My take: And another icon of my childhood has passed.

Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Monkees growing up — not that I’m a super-fan now — but I dated a woman in the 1990s who was a huge fan. One of the best trips we ever made was when I got us credentialled for a Monkees show at the Myrtle Beach House of Blues and she got to meet Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz after the show. And they were pretty good fellows, too.

Rest in peace, Daydream Believer.


When the North Carolina Press Association hands out its editorial excellence awards tomorrow night in Chapel Hill, The Free Press newsroom will receive at least 20 of those awards.

My take: I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of everyone in our newsroom. We work in an industry that is being told all the time that we’re a dying breed. The level of pay we receive for the amount of work we put in is almost embarrassingly disproportionate. We’ve seen our paper and our staff shrink in these tough economic times.

Yet, every day, the staff with whom I work bring their “A” game and bring home these type of awards.

Many thanks to Nancy Saunders, David Anderson, Wesley Brown, Jon Dawson, Justin Hill, Jane Moon, Charles Buchanan, Janet S. Carter, Ryan Herman, David Hall and Richard Clark for the work they did this past year. Also, I’m very appreciative of Keith Spence, Michael Moon and Zach Frailey for their contributions to our effort throughout the year.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank our publisher/editor Patrick Holmes — the best boss I’ve ever had. He truly cares about his employees, this town and this product and not just his own ego or the bottom line — traits extremely rare in this field.


As you can see from my play-by-play below, the Kinston boys’ basketball team defeated Wilson Beddingfield last night, 64-53, to advance to the squad’s sixth consecutive trip to the Eastern Regional finals (2007-09in 3A; 2010-12 in 2A). The Vikings will play Reidsville Saturday at noon in the 2A Eastern Regional final for a berth in the state championship.

My take: One word comes to mind about Tuesday’s game — impressive. When is the last time you’ve seen a high school basketball team only turn the ball over four times in 32 minutes? That’s what Kinston did.

When you also consider Josh Dawson had eight assists to only one turnover and Denzel Keyes scored 20 points in the second half, it’s that much more impressive.

Saturday is going to be tough — Reidsville is very athletic, smart and the Rams have a little chip on their shoulder going back to the 2A Eastern Regional football championship when Denzel Keyes caught a Hail Mary touchdown pass from C.J. Bradshaw on the final play of the game. It should be a heck of a game and one I’ll be tweeting and blogging at again.

The iPod shuffle

Tusk — Fleetwood Mac

Pop Life — Prince

Paint It Black — U2

It’s Now Or Never — Elvis Presley

We Will Rock You — Queen

P.S.: For my Tar Heel friends, you’ll have a special “treat” tomorrow; I lost a bet with our good friend Jon Dawson over last weekend’s UNC-Virginia basketball game … so I have to wear a Carolina shirt to work tomorrow. Yes, there’ll be a photo up here to prove it.

Sigh. If only Sammy Zeglinski could hit a freaking 3-pointer…

Morning News Report; Feb. 13, 2012


In a long and overdue decision, the U.S. Department of Justice finally came to its senses and awarded nonpartisan voting to the City of Kinston — three years after voters here made it known that’s what they wanted by a 2-1 margin.

My take: Here’s my Sunday column on the matter — and it pretty much tells you how I feel about the subject.

I’ll just reiterate this from my column — it’s racist for our government to tell black voters in Kinston that IT knows better than they do.


The 54th Grammys became all-Adele, all the time as the British singer walked off with awards in all six categories she was nominated, including the Big 3 of Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

The show also honored Whitney Houston, who died Saturday in what is now being described as a prescription pain killer and alcohol overdose.

My take: Admittedly, it was the first Grammys I’ve watched in several years — and it was pretty doggoned good. Adele — who I wasn’t very familiar with until this weekend — was simply wonderful; it’s good to see that someone who doesn’t fit the Brittney Spears/Ke$ha/Katy Perry mold can still be successful in 2012.

Jennifer Hudson’s version of Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was FANTASTIC; it was a fitting and haunting tribute to one of the greatest singers of my generation.

Not sure what Nicki Minaj was doing there towards the end of the show with her exorcism bit, but it was pretty scary … and downright bad.

Myself, along with B.J. Davis, Justin “The Kid” Hill and others, were tweeting throughout the event. Check out our thoughts by jumping on our feeds.


Apple has filed suit against Samsung on four patented items it alleges Samsung has stolen.

My take: As much as folks like to take shots at Apple, why wouldn’t it sue to protect its patents and products? The market is flooded with iPhone, iPad and iPod wannabes that look almost exactly like the originals. Good for Apple.


While the Kinston boys and girls have first-round byes in this week’s Eastern Plains 2A conference tournament (along with Ayden-Grifton’s boys and Jones Senior’s girls in the Carolina 1A and the Coastal 1A, respectively), virtually every other public school in our area has to win their respective tournament to go to the state playoffs, which begin next week.

Kinston will host a doubleheader at home Wednesday night in the EP2A semifinals; for the rest of the schedule, click on the link.

My take: As much fun as Friday night’s games against North Pitt were at Viking Gym, here’s hoping there are replays this Friday in the EP2A championship games.

The iPod shuffle

O Let’s Do It (Remix) — Waka Flocka Flame featuring Diddy, Rick Ross & Gucci Mane

Kinda Like A Big Deal — Clipse

Sad Songs (Say So Much) — Elton John

Bullet The Blue Sky (Live) — U2

Oh Yeah (Work) — Lil’ Scrappy featuring Sean P. & E-40

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 1, 2012


Six young men from our area — South Lenoir’s K’Hadree Hooker, Kinston’s C.J. Bradshaw, Angelo Keyes and Shaheed Swinson, and Ayden-Grifton’s Kariym Gent and Brandon Whitaker — signed their national letters of intent to play college football today.

My take: First off — many kudos to Sports Editor Ryan Herman, who was seemingly EVERYWHERE this morning, reporting on these signings. I’m really looking forward to seeing his story/stories in Thursday’s Free Press.

I concur with what Herman said on his Twitter feed — this is an extremely special day for those young men, who have worked their tails to get to this day. I’m also happy for the parents who have helped their children get to this point in their lives!


Don Cornelius, the iconic creator of “Soul Train,” is dead of what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 75.

My take: And another icon of my youth is gone. I’ll never forget Saturday afternoons of “American Bandstand” and “Soul Train” — as many of you in my age bracket also remember.

Until I discovered Sting in 1983, Prince in 1984 and Bono in 1988, Cornelius was the coolest music celebrity I followed.

A final note — there is hardly anything more sad to me than a teenager or older person committing suicide. I’m not saying it’s acceptable for a middle-aged person to do it, but for someone young (who hasn’t truly experienced life) or someone old (who has fought the battles but decided they can’t go another day) to kill themselves is quasi-tragic to me.


In a contest that had virtually all of ENC voting for it, the coastal city of Beaufort ended up tied for first with a New York town for the title of “America’s Coolest Small Town.”

My take: And that’s a bit bogus — Beaufort actually won the contest by 0.2 percentage points but it was declared a tie? Good for Beaufort in c0-winning the contest, but the person/people making that decision for a tie are the same people who want to give everyone a trophy for winning.

If it finished as a tie, so be it … but Beaufort won the damned thing. Give ‘em their award.

The iPod shuffle

Spaceship — Kanye West feat. GLC & Consequence

99 — Toto

Hot Stuff — The Rolling Stones

Exit — U2

Mother — Tori Amos

P.S.: Check out my brother’s new blog by clicking here. Not only is my brother Darrell the better-looking of the two of us, he’s also more athletic (although he can’t beat me on the basketball court!) and now he’s a better writer, too. Sigh.

Seriously — please check out his blog. Darrell is very sharp and his observations are top-notch, especially when he FINALLY admits U2 hasn’t lost their “it” factor.

P.P.S.S.: While I’m busy pimping, please check out the outstanding coverage of two regional media companies who are really on top of National Signing Day.

Nick Stevens and his legion of soldiers and soldierettes are working their tails off in the Triangle area getting NSD stories online at They are, frankly, knocking it out of the park today, so give ‘em a read.

Also, Randy Capps and the boys at the Fayetteville Observer are hosting chats and good stuff all day, so check them out, too.

Morning News Report; Dec. 2, 2011


While its football team readies for tomorrow’s 3 p.m. 2AA championship game appearance against West Stokes, the Kinston boys’ basketball team will tip off its 2011-12 season against Whitney Young, a top-25 nationally-ranked team out of Chicago.

My take: It’s a last-minute change to their schedule — the Vikings were supposed to play Whitney Young in Tampa, Fla., this weekend, but situations beyond Kinston’s control led to the game taking place at Viking Gym tonight.

Should be a heck of a game, too — this is the high school Michael Jordan sent his sons to play and there’s a lot of talent on that Whitney Young squad now. If you have no plans tonight, get out to the gym and check out the new edition of the Vikes.


Jones Senior starts this weekend’s slate of state championship appearances when the Trojans face Murphy for the 1A title at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium at 7:30 p.m. today.

Ayden-Grifton faces Swain County at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Wake Forest’s BB&T Field in Winston-Salem for the 1AA championship while Kinston takes on West Stokes at 3 p.m. tomorrow back at Carter-Finley.

My take: A crazy, crazy weekend ahead for Ryan Herman, Justin Hill, Keith Spence, David Hall and I as we get these stories back to y’all.

If you’re going to either of the games — or even if you’re not — you HAVE to pick up a copy of today’s Free Press. Herman and sports guru Randy Jones have put together an awesome pullout fan’s guide to the state championship in today’s paper. You do not want to go to the game(s) without it.


In a surprising — but awesome — bit of news, unemployment dropped from 9 to 8.6 percent nationally in November.

My take: That is GREAT news, especially to those folks who are unemployed in this horrible economy.

The only thing I didn’t like about it was the way the Republicans immediately jumped on this, saying “Oh, it’d be even lower if we were in charge.”

Whatever. I’m not the biggest Obama fan — in fact, he’s done a pretty poor job IMHO. But good grief, let the man have ONE victory, OK, GOP?


Pop music princess Britney Spears turns 30 today.

My take: So shoot me, I’m a peripheral fan. Yes, I know she probably doesn’t sing 90 percent of her lyrics. But you know what — she’s easy on the eyes:


Click on those bad boysfor a better view. And happy birthday, Britney.

The iPod shuffle

Planet Earth — Duran Duran

Careless Whisper — Wham!

Friends In Low Places — Garth Brooks

I Shot The Sheriff — Eric Clapton

I Want To Break Free — Queen

Podcastious goodness

On this week’s very special episode of The Free Press High School Football Podcast – Championship Edition, Ryan Herman, Jon Dawson and Bryan Hanks are joined by Kinston football coach Nick Anderson, WRAL/’s Nick Stevens, Ayden-Grifton football coach Paul Cornwell,’s Chris Hughes and Jones Senior football coach John Davis. The guys preview the three state championship games — Kinston/West Stokes (2AA), Ayden-Grifton/Swain County (1AA) and Jones Senior/Murphy (1A) and offer their own predictions.

Also, check out my boy Jon Dawson’s interview with Martin Barre of Jethro Tull in this week’s Free Press Radio Program podcast. Good stuff!

Afternoon News Report; Oct. 3, 2011


UNC had little trouble in beating mistake-prone ECU, 35-20, Saturday night in Greenville.

My take: I didn’t go to the game but checked it out on CBS Sports Network — which was pretty bad, by the way — but that’s a conversation for another day.

ECU better get its turnover problems under control or the Pirates are going to have a very, very long season despite playing in abysmal Conference USA. However, one thing you can’t deny — ECU fans can pack a stadium. They deserved better than to see four turnovers in the first half against an arch-rival.


The critically-acclaimed TV series “Arrested Development” will return to television for nine to 10 episodes to set up a movie in 2013.

My take: I have to thank Jon Dawson for turning me on to that show; I watched the entire 2 1/2-season run on Netflix this summer — and it is freaking awesome. Can’t wait to see what the Bluths have been up to the past five years!


To those of you bloggees who are in my age range — this is going to make you feel REALLY old: here’s the baby from Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album cover, which was taken 20 years ago:

My take: Really cool concept and photo … but, damn, does it make me feel old!

The iPod shuffle

Girlfriend — Avril Lavigne

Blue Eyes — Elton John

Crazy — Aerosmith

Rebel Yell — Billy Idol

Magnificent — U2

P.S.: Here’s my Sunday column on Bev Perdue’s suggestion about suspending congressional elections to help the country recover. Ironically, it was posted at our sister site, where it generated 8X the page views. Sigh.

I got a lot of hate mail (yep, been getting A LOT of that recently!), but my point was what I think the governor’s was — it would be great if congressmen/women would concentrate on turning our country around instead of constantly running for re-election.

Do I think suspending elections could/would/should ever happen? Absolutely not! But at least give the governor credit for thinking outside the box.

Morning News Report; Sept. 22, 2011


One of the great rock bands of all time, R.E.M., decided to, as they said, “call it a day as a band.”

My take: It’s amazing how close you become to the music you grew up with — and R.E.M. was one of the bands (U2, The Police, Boston and Chicago are others) that shaped my teenage and young adult years. Say what you want, but Michael Stipe and R.E.M. did it their way — and it seemed like that era of their music marked my mood perfectly, at that moment.

(Here’s an excellent retrospective piece on the boys from Athens)

There are so many significant moments of my life that R.E.M. was the soundtrack for that particular portion. My top 5 R.E.M. songs (with album in parentheses):

1. Nightswimming (Automatic For The People)

2. What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? (Monster)

3. It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (Document)

4. Crush With Eyeliner (Monster)

5. Orange Crush (Green)

Thanks for everything, Michael, Peter, Mike and Bill. You’ll live forever in my iPod!


The world’s No. 1 social networking site, Facebook, significantly changed its appearance yesterday — mostly to negative reviews.

My take: You know what? I hate it, too. I also realize this is a completely free service that can do whatever the hell it wants to. If I was paying for it and it made these dramatic changes, then I’d have something to bitch about — but I’m not.

Just means I’ll be spending a lot more time on Twitter — which, frankly, I enjoy infinitely more than Facebook anyway. While YOU’RE on Twitter, throw me a follow (@BCHanks).


One of the leading Republican candidates for president, Rick Perry, is quoted in a book saying he hates Kinston’s own King’s BBQ. The quote (from before Perry was governor of Texas): “I’ve had road kill that tasted better than that.”

My take: WTF? Seriously? Dude …

Maybe that’s the reason he’s way, way behind in the latest round of GOP polls in New Hampshire — because he hates America! Not that he was probably going to get a boatload of votes in Kinston anyway, but now … wow.

I came from Western N.C. and couldn’t believe there was BBQ better than what Shelby and Lexington have to offer, in the tomato/ketchup-based product. But I have totally fallen in love with King’s and ENC BBQ and really am not much of a fan of that “red” BBQ any longer. Yep, I’m a convert.

The iPod shuffle (R.E.M. Edition)

Try Not To Breathe — R.E.M.

Losing My Religion — R.E.M.

Man On The Moon (Live) — R.E.M.

Everybody Hurts — R.E.M.

Find The River — R.E.M.

Afternoon News Report; Aug. 18, 2011

Before we get started — thanks to all of you who have supported this edition of the blog for FIVE FREAKING YEARS! We hit the five-year anniversary on this one a week ago; old-timers remember the original blog that began about 18 months before that before the Internet gods took it away.

Anyhoo — thanks to you guys (and gals). It’s been a blast meeting most of you through the years and I appreciate you taking the time to check this little ol’ Kinston blog. You are the best.

Now … on to your MNR ANR:


Female activists plan to bare their boobies in a protest in Asheville on Sunday at 1 p.m.

My take: What are they protesting? I don’t know, read the story. What I do know is that if you need to find Richard Clark Sunday around 1 p.m., I’d look in Asheville. I hear he’s volunteered to be a photographer-for-a-day for Freedom Communications.


Pop singer Katy Perry tied Michael Jackson’s Billboard Hot 100 record with five No. 1 singles from one album.

My take: While this is news that is going to likely make Jon Dawson’s head explode, there is one reason and one reason only for mentioning this in the MNR ANR:

Yep. Click on that bad boy for a better view … and thank me later.


A game between Georgetown University and a Chinese team ended in a tie earlier today when a melee started between the teams. Here’s an interesting photo from Reuters News Service (click on it for a better view):

My take: And this was a “goodwill” trip. Uh … no.

The iPod shuffle

Let It Be — Jennifer Hudson feat. The Roots

Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car — U2

I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) — Meat Loaf

Green River — Alabama

Original Of The Species — U2