The King Lives On: Elvis’s Biggest Influences

the elvis influence

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You might not see Elvis Presley atop the charts these days, but “The King” played an undeniably crucial role in the history of music — and his influence continues, whether you listen to him every day or not. Elvis was arguably the first mainstream radio and television rock star, and he still makes his way to your ears and eyes, because he influenced so many of today’s top artists directly or indirectly, as you’ll see below.

In celebration of The King’s 80th birthday tomorrow, January 8, here’s a nifty web app that connects any artist to Elvis through deep data and Spotify playlists. You can make your way from just about any artist you can think of, to the King, often in surprisingly few steps. (The app looks for the shortest possible way from the artist you enter and Elvis, favoring “influenced by” when possible.)

elvis_tallTo build The Elvis Influence, Paul Lamere, director of developer platform for The Echo Nest at Spotify, tapped into data about which artists “had a direct musical influence on, or were an inspiration to” a given artist according to Rovi editors, sometimes based on research and interviews. He mapped them all to Spotify, so you can play any artist in the app with a single click or tap.

Enter any artist name into The Elvis Influence to see how they relate to the music of The King, and enjoy the resulting playlist, which takes you on a musical tour from the artist of your choice to Elvis. You can also hear any artists you find by clicking their names.

Try to stump it: Hozier, Nine Inch Nails, Public Enemy, Ed Sheeran, or whatever you think to enter — it’s a fun game, filled with music.

(Bonus: Lamere also built the amazing “Elvisualization,” a nice audiographic that traces Elvis’s influence on many top artists through the ages.)

Spotify looked into some more Elvis stats in honor of his 80th birthday, finding that the most dedicated Elvis fans live in Chile, with an average of 11 Elvis songs played by each Elvis listener, followed by Brazil, Argentina, Netherlands, and Iceland (for the month of November, which is more representative than December). The US came in 27th, with an average of six songs played per Spotify Elvis listener (although far more people listen to Elvis there overall).

For more Elvis listening, here’s a compilation released for his birthday: ELVIS.80:

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)