Who is the top Jewish musician of all time? (And if you answer the Maccabeats, heaven help you…) This is a question that has fueled debate across the decades.
The Tablet staff has rich (in many senses) opinions on the matter and we even took the trouble of compiling a list of the Top 100 Jewish songs of all time to settle some of the questions. But beyond artistic merit, what if someone looked specifically at record sales and chart performance and listed the top Jewish musicians based on that measure of success? Who would do such a dirty thing?
Billboard, of course! And in that world, Leonard Cohen doesn’t exist, Lesley Gore cries on, and Eric Carmen is still by himself. Bob Dylan doesn’t crack the Top 25, outpaced by the likes of Pink, Michael Bolton, and Taylor Dayne, none of whom I knew were Jewish (or in Dayne’s case even existed).
It’s an interesting measurement. Here’s the top 10:
10. Simon & Garfunkel
9. Michael Bolton
8. Adam Levine (Maroon 5)
7. Neil Sedaka
5. Paula Abdul
4. Barry Manilow
3. Barbra Streisand
2. Neil Diamond
1. Billy Joel
That’s right. Barry, Babs, Brooklyn Nights, and Billy. What do you think? Fair or foul?
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.