Ted Nugent Is A Sweetheart

I know because I’ve met him. He was kind, cool, gentle, generous and awesome. I’ve known and am related to others who have met him and they feel the same. Maybe it’s because we’re all from Michigan. People are just nicer and more laid back there.

Also, as I’ve been reminded the last couple days while listening to some records I haven’t played in a long, long time — how much he rocks like nobody’s business when he’s on his game.

In honor of his upcoming August 20 show here in the Tampa Bay area, here are some stats from my little web app. I have one set of PHP scripts that daily and weekly grab data from the Spotify WebAPI. I track popularity scores for artists, albums, and tracks as well as followers for artists. Followers for artists is 99% boring because they just continue upward so that line chart on the left side of Figure 01 represents what most of them look like. Boring. I have another set of scripts written in Python that grab data from Last.fm using the MBIDs from MusicBrainz.org.

Last.fm can only grab one thing at a time which sucks hardcore. With Spotify, sometimes you’re limited to 20 or 50 things at a time but at least you can get 20-50 things at a time! The Python scripts take for-ev-er. All of that data then goes into various tables in a MySQL database.

The app’s … can I call it an app if it’s a web app? Or is it just a regular old site albeit a data-driven site? I call it PopRock because it started tracking only popularity on Spotify. The home page is a list of the artists I track — a total of 326 as of this moment.

Many were chosen because they were either nominated for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, possibly inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or there are countless articles about the fact that they are continually snubbed or overlooked by the Rock Hall. I was curious about whether their popularity was affected by such announcements.

Figure 00: PopRock’s home page with artists sorted by Last.fm playcount. The default order is A-Z but users can sort by Popularity, Followers, Listeners, and Playcount. You’d be surprised how different the table appears when you change it.

Others were chosen because I’m interested in them, there is or was a movie coming out about them, or they might die soon and I am so pissed that I didn’t have David Bowie or Prince in when they died. I can’t believe I didn’t already have them in given how much I love each of them–especially Bowie.

All of the artists in Figure 00 are in Spotify and some also get data from Last.fm. I really mean only some — it’s just pure luck or coincidence that sorting the table by playcount to see which artists are “near” Ted Nugent brought nothing but artists for which I get data from both places. Originally, I was just going to screen grab five above and five below Nugent but I stretched it since going another 1 or 2 brought in both Joan Jett and her one-time bandmates, Evil Stig.

There is a growing list of artists with data only from Last.fm and I am in the process of making a page just for them. Integrating both data sets into every “feature” has proven not only sometimes difficult but it tends to break stuff for days — the damage sometimes compounded because I may have missed it and kept coding before I noticed it.

Writing the AJAX for the sorting was challenging enough without … changing what data is displayed and then changing my mind again.

Figure 01: The main or home page for this artist. A work in progress.

Here are some closeups. Neither of the Spotify-based line graphs give any real, useful information, but they were great for learning Javascript, jQuery, and D3 as well as PHP and Python. There’s still a lot of work to do as I want to make almost everything on the site interactive which will increase it’s usefulness a ton as well as the “fun factor.”

Figure 02: I really don’t like those default “pill boxes” in Bootstrap.

Artist and album cover art images come mostly from Spotify. For the few that are Last.fm-only come from some art archive something or other that rarely works so if I have an album from MB/LastFM that isn’t also in Spotify, I just hunt it down with a Google Image search because life is too short.

Nugent began with The Amboy Dukes, a band that was equally cool yet sounded nothing like his eventual solo work. Here are their stats.

Figure 03: And I need to do something about that dynamic title, don’t I?

Normally, the Spotify Followers graphs all look like Nugent’s below, no matter what the range is in the Y axis so I was surprised to see that jump for the Amboy Dukes in mid-April. Also, odd jumps like that usually happen Spotify-wide so I find this one particularly interesting because it didn’t appear anywhere else. What could possibly influence the Amboy Dukes?

Figure 04: Spotify Followers for Ted Nugent (left) and the Amboy Dukes (right) made with D3.js

I still haven’t quite decided on a solution for messes like this next one.

Figure 05: Spotify popularity for many of Nugent’s albums. Also made with D3.js

My greed for data is never satisfied so I grab data for every edition of every album. So, for artists with relatively few albums it gets far too wide — especially if I ever decide I want to make this mobile-friendly. If you look closely, you can see the last album is cut off — and I have the SVG width at something ridiculous like 2400px. I am considering the following (no pun intended):

  • Putting the SVG in a “scrollable” DIV
  • Making the chart vertical
  • Just purging many of the “duplicate” albums from my database
  • Hmm … just thought of this one … starting with a few and making the rest optional. The user can drag thumbnails from outside the graph and then it’s their problem if it get’s too wide.

Gosh. Darn. His music is so awesome. “Workin’ Hard, Playin’ Hard” is on now. I’m listening to my Wholesome, Calming Ted Nugent Mix playlist on Spotify.

Wholesome Calming Ted Nugent Mix playlist on Spotify
Figure 06: Click here or search for this playlist on Spotify

Speaking of songs, here are his most played albums according to Last.fm and his most “popular” albums according to Spotify.

Figure 07: Even little things like comparing these two charts are what I love about data.

I love finding out what’s the same and what’s different … whether it’s people, cultures, music charts, whatever. I wish the above two sources had an Insights blog like PornHub. Sex is great and all, but PornHub’s data blog — that’s what really turns me on.

Ted’s charts don’t contain any surprises for the most part. Of course the eponymous debut is #1 on both because it has Stranglehold, followed closely by Cat Scratch Fever (because it’s a masterpiece) then Free-for-All because, I mean, damn … he got a local (then) singer named Meat Loaf for, like, $2 when he was struggling at Motown Records. You’ve got “greatest hits” compilations through both. Hunt Music and Spirit of the Wild stay up there for one reason and one reason alone — the ethereal, magical, amazing, spiritual, ass-kicking, galaxy-rocking song that is “Fred Bear“. I doubt I am alone in being only able to name that one song from either album. Intensities In 10 Cities is a good album and all but it’s probably only there because of Wayne’s World.

Ooh, hold on … “You Make Me Feel Right At Home” is on … How is it that Frank Zappa and Ted Nugent are the only two rockers who use … I don’t know if it’s a xylophone or a marimba … but it’s just perfect.

I’ve never understood the love for his debut solo album. There. I’ve said it. I’m sorry.

I want to say I’m surprised that Love Grenade and Craveman are so close to the top but I can’t speak with any authority because I’ve never bothered to listen to either of them. You know what, I’ll bet they’re high up because people listen to them on streaming … nope, nope … they’re on the LastFM chart … which means it’s more likely those albums were paid for, right?

And now, as I promised earlier … the songs … okay, now, check this out …

Figure 08: Most popular Ted Nugent songs on Spotify

Normally, on a Spotify list, there are lots of duplicates because you have true music-lovers listening to actual albums but also a lot of people listening to whatever single they’ve heard from some compilation. Figure 08, however, looks like an actual ranking while the Last.fm chart looks like what I’d expect from Spotify.

Figure 09: Most played Ted Nugent songs according to Last.fm

All of that is just … whatever … you may, like me, be more curious about the Amboy Dukes. I won’t bother showing their album rankings because a) they didn’t have many and b) you know full well what #1 is as well as #2 and why. In that spirit, I’ve taken the liberty of crossing out the obvious tracks so we can look at the other, more exciting players on the chart.

Figure 10: Most popular Amboy Dukes tracks on Spotify

How is “Missionary Mary” so low? And where the heck is “Saint Philip’s Friend”? Where, I ask! It turns up here, as I’d expect (see above) on the Last.fm list.

Figure 11: Most played Amboy Dukes songs according to Last.fm

If you ever get the chance to talk to Mr. Nugent, conversation with him is more likely to sound like “Why a Carrot is More Orange Than an Orange” than “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.” Seriously. He’s great.

Ted Nugent was my second concert. Bon Jovi was supposed to open for him but didn’t show.

Figure 12: Me wearing my Ted Nugent concert t-shirt from the Penetrator tour. I find it interesting that the album cover didn’t use the traditional logo but the shirt did. Wait a second … the album used the same logo as the Free-for-All album — I never noticed!

Until recently (then recently, not now recently) my hair was down to my shoulders. The burnout princess I went to the concert with was less than thrilled about my haircut. Truth be told, so was I. I took the Peter Criss solo album to the barber and said I wanted my hair to look like that. It didn’t.

Here is a playlist of his setlist for that night:

Spotify playlist based on Ted Nugent Setlist from April 27, 1984 in Detroit
Figure 13: Click here or search for this playlist on Spotify


I saw him again for the 1990/1991 Whiplash Bash. The Damn Yankees were in high rotation so it was a Ted Nugent/Damn Yankees concert which is the closest I’ve ever been to a Styx concert.

One of the few memories I have of my father is him buying me Nugent by Ted Nugent at … Kmart or something … and listening to it in his car. It was one of those depressing … visits at one of his depressing apartments after my parents divorced.

I think I’ll go see him in August. That, I think, would rock.


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