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More Cowbell, By the Numbers

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There is a cry ringing (or should I say “clanging”?) out across the land, a burning fever that must be satiated: everywhere you look people are practically begging for more cowbell.

Ever since Will Ferrell played Blue Öyster Cult cowbell soloist Gene Frenkle in a SNL parody of Behind the Music, “more cowbell” has been galloping across the web and inundating our culture. (For a ridiculously straight-faced exploration of the phenomenon, check Wikipedia’s “more cowbell” entry.)

Now there’s no better arbiter of culture and taste than Google. And since they’re bound to replace the Library of Congress within the next five years and the entire U.S. government within the next 10, we sure better listen to what they say. I conducted a Google search for “more cowbell” today and got an astonishing 3,100,000 hits. Sure, that doesn’t compare to George Bush’s 44,800,000 hits or Britney Spears’ 34,000,000, but 3.1 million Google hits is heavy hitting on the web.

For the sake of comparison, you would need to combine the results for Rutherford B. Hayes, James Polk, James Garfield, William Howard Taft, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland and Zachary Taylor to equal the number of hits for “more cowbell” alone. That’s a lot of mediocre presidents!

“More cowbell” has even outstripped its source material. Compare 3.1 million hits to 2,940,000 for Will Ferrell and 1,860,000 for Blue Öyster Cult. Poor producer Bruce Dickinson, played with trademark creepiness and panache by Christopher Walken, musters only 807,000 hits when you filter “Iron Maiden” (different guy—less cowbell, more fencing) out of the mix.

If we can trust Google as a fame-meter (and Google says we can, nay, must), “more cowbell” is about as famous as mid-echelon stars like Brittany Murphy (3.2 mil.) and Nick Lachey (3.4 mil.), and the cowbell didn’t even have to marry Jessica Simpson. “More cowbell” even holds its own against another dominant craze in American Culture: American Idol. Check out these stats:

Kelly Clarkson—3,950,000
Clay Aiken—3,240,000
More Cowbell—3,100,000
Carrie Underwood—2,630,000
Paula Abdul—2,270,000
Simon Cowell—1,250,000
Ruben studdard—904,000
Bo Bice—733,000
William Hung—716,000
Ryan Seacrest—563,000
Randy Jackson—413,000
Fantasia Barrino—350,000

Looks like America’s calling out for a new idol! Here are a few more standards of comparison from my scientific-ish research that leave “more cowbell” looking pretty good:

Cowbell vs. Canada

Bryan Adams—5,830,000
More Cowbell—3,100,000
Wayne Gretzky—2,800,000
Stephen Harper—2,440,000 (that’s the new Prime Minister, moron!)

Cowbell vs. the Royal Family

Prince Charles—3,280,000
More Cowbell—3,100,000
Princess Diana—2,790,000
Prince William—2,040,000
Queen Elizabeth II—1,840,000
Prince Harry—1,180,000
Camilla Parker Bowles—730,000

Cowbell vs. Selected Current Novelists

Tom Clancy—6,610,000
More Cowbell—3,100,000
Salman Rushdie—2,940,000
Toni Morrison —1,740,000
Don Delillo—769,000

Cowbell vs. Public Intellectuals

George Will—3,130,000
More Cowbell—3,100,000
Christopher Hitchens—2,280,000
Harold Bloom —1,010,000
William F Buckley Jr—867,000
Richard Rorty—528,000
Richard Posner—417,000

Cowbell vs. Right-Wing Pundits

Rush Limbaugh—7,170,000
Ann Coulter—6,410,000
Bill O’Reilly—5,660,000
More Cowbell—3,100,000
Sean Hannity—2,300,000
Robert Novak—1,780,000
Tucker Carlson—973,000
John Podhoretz—331,000

Cowbell vs. Left-Wing Firebrands

Michael Moore—17,300,000
Al Franken—4,420,000
Barbra Streisand—3,620,000
More Cowbell—3,100,000
Susan Sarandon—2,990,000
Tim Robbins—2,190,000
Phil Donahue—410,000
Alan Colmes—388,000

Cowbell vs. Selected Classical Composers

Tchaikovsky—5,790,000
More Cowbell—3,100,000
Shostakovich—3,040,000
Rachmaninoff—2,290,000
Johannes Brahms—1,990,000
Mussorgsky—1,820,000
Igor Stravinsky—1,320,000

And just in case you might think this is nothing more than a call for more percussion in general:

Cowbell vs. Other Percussion Instruments

More Cowbell—3,100,000
Less Cowbell—46,700
More Triangle—11,300
More Cymbals—10,200
More Xylophone—3,120
More Harmonium—1,630
More Gong—799
More Maracas—784
More Conga—759
More Wood Block—470
More Tambourine—404
More Vibraphone—231
More Tympani—102
More Jew’s Harp—37

Whether you view all of this as a step forward or a step backward for world culture is a matter of personal taste. Don’t be surprised, however, if your choice is what determines whether or not Google lines you up against a wall and shoots you when the revolution comes.

(parenthetical remarks)

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About parenthetical

  • Eric Olsen

    hilarity, classic, love the video!

    Bruce Dickinson is a made-up character, by the way: the real producers of “Reaper” were Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman

  • http://parentheticalremarks.blogspot.com Pete Blackwell

    According to my extensive research, the non-Iron Maiden Bruce Dickinson does in fact exist. From the Washington Post:

    And while there really is a record producer named Bruce Dickinson, he had nothing to do with the recording of the song. (Dickinson did work on some of the group’s later releases.)

    Don’t make me sic Google on your ass!

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    love those ‘hit lists’! fantastic.

    i also loved the more cowbell sketch…though it ruined Don’t Fear The Reaper for me, for while anyway.

  • http://parentheticalremarks.blogspot.com Pete Blackwell

    Absolutely. Can’t listen to it without really “feeling” the cowbell.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “Michael Moore Cowbell” is a lean 135,000.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    Blogcritics—2,160,000
    More Cowbell–3,100,000

  • http://parentheticalremarks.blogspot.com Pete Blackwell

    Blogcritics +”more cowbell”—689. Alas.

    690 after today, I guess.

  • http://serenadeingreen.blogspot.com/ Stephen V Funk

    check out my drummer friend Geoff’s hilarious report from the “more cowbell” front lines…

    “More cowbell: no more” at
    http://stevergo.diaryland.com/060126_67.html

  • http://www.dorksandlosers.com Tan The Man

    The sad thing is that the song is really good. The good – the song and the band get more exposure. I love Blue Oyster Cult. The bad – people laugh whenever they hear the cowbells. Tough…

  • Duane

    Will Ferrell was funny in the SNL sketch, but I think a lot of credit should go to Christopher Walken for delivering the “more cowbell” line in his own inimitable style.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Hilarious post!

    But it needed just a little more cowbell… ;-P

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    I’ve never even seen this sketch, but all the references to it on the Net have made me hypersensitive to the cowbell in any radio track where I happen to hear it. Oddly, I can’t tell whether this heightened awareness makes me crave more cowbell, or less. From the first time I hear the bell, I listen intently for it the whole time a song plays, and then when it ends, find myself happy the thing is over.

  • Gordon Hauptfleisch

    So what’s the correct term: Cowbellist, Cowbeller, Cowbellter, Cowamabellist (as in Homer Simpson’s “saxamaphone”), Cowbell Ringer (or does that pertain just to musician entered in a competition under false pretenses), or just plain Cowbell Player?

    And is the term “virtuoso Cowbell Player” mutually exclusive? Is a virtuoso Cowbell Player someone who can play till the cows come home?

    And what do you call a writer of Cow-belles-lettres, the light, stylish Cowbellian criticisms that touch on the literary or intellectual aspects of the cowbell? A Cowbelletrist?

    Points to not neccessarily ponder…

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Percussionist.

  • http://gohah.blogspot.com Gordon Hauptfleisch

    oh.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    On this site, though, just about everybody leans toward the Cowbelletrist side of things.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Look, I loved this post and it was wonderfully executed, but I clicked on that Google search for “more cowbell” and only came up with 852,000 results.

    Note the difference:

    GS for “more cowbell”
    GS for more cowbell

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news.

  • http://parentheticalremarks.blogspot.com Pete Blackwell

    Yes, there was an article a few weeks ago (or was it on the email thread?) about Google discrepancies depending on what Google “node” you’re searching from. First time I did the search, I got 3,100,000. Then later I got something like 899,000. I Googled “more cowbell” from home this morning and got 3,200,000 hits. Blame Google, man, don’t blame the cowbell.

  • http://parentheticalremarks.blogspot.com Pete Blackwell

    Here is that article, from Jan. 31:

    http://blogcritics.org/archives/2006/01/31/224738.php

  • http://parentheticalremarks.blogspot.com Pete Blackwell

    http://blogcritics.org/archives/2006/01/31/224738.php

    Now, hotlinked for your convenience!