1. Pre-eminent means “more prominent, distinguished, conspicuous, signal or noteworthy”. It’s not the most specific term one might use.
2. No it isn’t.
3. Beyonce has sold more than 75m albums. According to one of the better-sourced articles on Wikipedia, only about 70 bands or solo artists have sold more. She has won 16 Grammys, which seems like a lot to almost everybody except Sir George Solti, who had 31 Grammys. While we’re talking pre-eminence, Beethoven albums have picked up 30 Grammys.
4. Dizzee Rascal (to give him his full formal title) is an odd inclusion here because he’s only really popular in the UK, where three of his albums have been certified gold (100k units), and one platinum (300k). Since none of his albums sold more than 500,000 units, he doesn’t show up in the RIAA’s publicly searchable database of US album sales.
5. Adele has sold at least 20m albums worldwide, which is nice for her. Add these to Dizzee and Beyoncé, and together they still haven’t sold as many albums as Pavarotti.
6. I’m going to guess “and the like” means “the group comprising people who have sold at least as many albums as Dizzee Rascal” – which is quite a lot of people including both Charlotte Church and Nigel Kennedy. Sadly the BPI’s search engine doesn’t let you link directly to results, but you can look them up for yourself here.
7. A monolith is a big piece of rock, which (if nothing else) explains why it was Jennifer Hudson and not Beyoncé, who won an Oscar for Dreamgirls.
8. May not be true.
9. Mozart albums have won 21 Grammys. There are somewhere in the region of 8,800 Mozart albums currently available.
10. At first glance, this seems tricky to check for sure, but a Fermi estimate can give us a pretty good idea of how likely it is to be true. iTunes lists more than 8,800 Mozart albums available in the UK. More may have been deleted, but we’ll just work with these. If each one sold a total of 10,000 units, Mozart has outsold Beyoncé. Old Amadeus needn’t aim that high, though. Dizzee Rascal has three UK gold albums (100,000-299,000 units sold) and one platinum album (300,000-599,000 units). Best case scenario, he sold 1.5m units in the UK (worst case: 600,000), and we’ll do him a favour by only looking at his strongest market. 1.5m in the UK is the figure to beat. If all Mozart’s 8,800 albums have been released at even intervals (one every two-and-a-bit days since the LP was introduced in 1948) then each album would only have to average sales of six units a year to blow Dizzee out of the water. Looked at another (much simpler) way, the BPI lists two gold albums and one silver album with “Mozart” in the title. Unless these 0.034% of Mozart’s albums account for more than 17% of all Mozart’s sales, it probably isn’t true to say that Dizzee has sold more albums in his lifetime than Mozart has in three centuries.
11. Don’t get me started on the exclusive “rarely if ever” followed by the inclusive “the likes of”.
12. We’re defining a set of anomalies containing a Menuhin School/Juilliard alumnus…
13. …and Charlotte Church, which is broad enough to leave the door open for a fairly large group of other perculiar (sic) anomalies (including the Three Tenors, Yo-Yo Ma, Andre Rieu, Ludovico Einaudi, Katherine Jenkins, Russell Watson, Bond, Bocelli and about half of Decca’s current roster).
14. In a profession where only a tiny proportion of people become superstars, expectations are funny things to talk about…
15. …but since we’re apparently only comparing classical musicians to the tiny fraction of pop stars who made it, I’ll refer you to Joshua Bell’s $4m violin, Andre Rieu’s castle and Pavarotti’s $472m estate.
16. Doesn’t mean anything.
17. Considered to be the best, although not pre-eminent, apparently.
18. Not the rich kind of exclusive, though.
19. Even the quite-modern Wikipedia has a policy about this “is perceived as” nonsense, you know.
20. Leaving aside the question of whether we’re now referring to the music, the musicians or the audience, you managed to get this many factual errors in a paragraph saying nothing useful at all, and classical music is out-of-touch?