Reader Jim Burrows, from Brazil, possibly taking my All-Time Top 40 list (see below) a bit more seriously than it was really intended to be taken, objects to the relatively low ranking awarded to Elvis Presley. He notes that the name Elvis receives 21 million hits and argues that most of these should be accorded to the King. He has counted up the Google hits for other famous or semi-famous Elvises, to wit:
Elvis Grbac (pro football athlete) ................. 76,500
Elvis Costello (UK musician) ....................... 2,520,000
Elvis Mitchell (movie critic) ......................268,000
Elvis Dumervil (college football) ....................35,000
Elvis Crespo (Puerto Rican salsa / merengue king) ..... 219,000
Elvis Stojko (Canadian world skating champion) ..... 77,400
In all, around 3 million hits for non-Presley Elvises. Burrows finds the same 18:3 ratio of Presley Elvises to non-Presley Elvises in Google's image search feature. So, the scholar concludes, Elvis should be accorded 18 million hits, putting him just below Mozart, the Beatles, and U2 (whose ranking is a bit suspicious, given various chemical compounds and whatnot). However, it seems to me that if we are going to revise the ranking for Elvis then we will also have to try to determine how many of 25.3 million Google Dylans are Bob Dylan. There are 1.37 million Dylan Thomases in there. There are also an indeterminate number of baby-boomers' kids named Dylan. But should not the fact that Dylan spawned so many namesakes be cited as a measure of his cultural power? What I've decided to do is to give Elvis his 18 million hits but to push Dylan up to an arbitrary but intuitively scientific 16 million hits. For me, what's really interesting about the chart is that Mozart — and there is only one Mozart, annexing Leopold Mozart and Franz Xaver Mozart to the Greater Mozart — kicks ass.