School of Rock: AC/DC's Effects on Economic Decisions
The AC/DC singers Bon Scott and Brian Johnson have both made an enormous impact but debate has raged for years over who was the better frontman.
Now an economist has come up with an answer in a paper titled On the Efficiency of AC/DC: Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson. Robert Oxoby, of the Behavioural and Experimental Economics Laboratory at the University of Calgary, played a group of students Scott's rendition of It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock'n'Roll) and Johnson's Shoot to Thrill in separate listening sessions.
Rather than focusing on "the aural or sonic quality of the vocalists' performances", Dr Oxoby wanted to ascertain how the two performances influenced the students' decision-making. More specifically, he was testing the effect the two voices had on the choices of people distributing and requesting money.
The results will dismay fans of Scott, who died in London in 1980 at the age of 33 after choking on his vomit, and delight supporters of Johnson, who replaced him at the microphone the same year.
"Our analysis suggests that in terms of affecting efficient decision-making among listeners, Brian Johnson was a better singer," wrote Dr Oxoby, who admits the issue of vocal quality may never be resolved, even by economists.
Sceptics who feel that the university's resources might be put to better use are missing the wider implications.
"Our analysis has direct implications for policy and organisational design: when policymakers or employers are engaging in negotiations and are interested in playing the music of AC/DC, they should choose from the band's Brian Johnson era discography," Dr Oxoby wrote