Ah, there is always plenty to write about the music industry and the number of trends that come and go, as well as those remaining constant. 2013 was another interesting year, whether merely for its pleasant surprises or its disappointments. Many observations will and can be made of the year musically and pop-culturally in regards to its artists. While my inner musical nerdy side wishes that I could nitpick and analyze every facet microscopically, I’ll rely on a Childish Gambino rhyme to express why that’s not possible: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” What I do have time for is to share five takeaways I gathered from music in 2013.
Pop music was ‘down’ overall, but had its moments…
Maybe I’ll be stoned (not that I care), but I wouldn’t consider 2013 a particularly great year for ‘pop music’, at least how most year’s are traditionally evaluated. Sure, Justin Timberlake carried the torch single-handedly with his surprise comeback The 20/20 Experience (both albums debuted at no. 1 with 968,000 and 350,000 copies respectively) until things percolated with releases from Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Lorde, and One Direction, but generally, pop’s impact seemed slower than usual. Other than big-time late pushes, who else was there to help a brother out? I mean John Mayer seems to have lost his swagger – Paradise Valley didn’t have a great footing, bowing modestly at no. 2 with 144,000 copies. Yeah 144,000 copies would be great for most, but not considering Mayer’s track record. Pop/R&B starlet Ariana Grande was impressive on Yours Truly, bowing at no. 1 and selling an impressive enough 138,000 copies, but the album hasn’t had sustainable success per se.
R&B music continued to limp commercially compared to other genres.
This isn’t news, but R&B hasn’t been nearly as competitive as it was, say, five years ago. This year, the genre’s artists continue the uphill struggle for commercial footing. The fortunes haven’t improved, with most of the genre’s stars settling for sub 100,000 copies selling bows. It’s sad because there were some exceptional releases courtesy of Fantasia, John Legend, Chrisette Michele, TGT, K. Michele, and Jaheim amongst them. All sold < than 100,000 their debut week with only Fantasia coming close (91,000 sold of Side Effects of You). Still, a few artists got a sound start. Tamar Braxton’s Love and War sold 114,000 copies its first week out while Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines moved 177,000 copies. Take the victories when and where you can get them I guess.
Country wasn’t nearly as dominant or relevant as it’s been in the past…
I’ll admit I slept on country music throughout the year, but can you blame me? There was once a time where new releases from Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, and Toby Keith were among the most anticipated releases regardless of genre. All these folks released albums in 2013, but who’s talking about ‘em? Alan Jackson even managed to release two! Country still managed to have its bright spots with the likes of Blake Shelton and a rising Luke Bryan holding down the fort, but others dropped the ball. The Band Perry didn’t have the commercial impact that I’d have predicted, while Lady Antebellum’s Golden was about as much fun as watching paint dry when compared to previous albums. Then there’s the newbies, who I can’t personally keep up with, mainly because they’re impact is quite minimal commercially.
Rock/alternative delivered some of the years most sensational albums.
Rock and alternative music had a much more triumphant 2013 than other genres from my perspective. That doesn’t mean they were necessarily commercial powerhouses, but they did deliver some knockout punches critically. Black Sabbath’s 13 and Queens of the Stone Age’s …Like Clockwork both outperformed expectations commercially, not to mention how awesome both albums were in regards to the material. Vampire Weekend (Modern Vampires of the City), The National (Trouble Will Find Me), and Arcade Fire (Reflektor) delivered exceptional efforts that also put up respectable chart numbers in the alt department. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (Push the Sky Away), certainly no household name to most, STRFKR (Miracle Mile), and Atlas Genius (When It Was Now) were among other alt bright spots failing to receive big-time commercial recognition, but definitely were critically praised for exceptional studio releases. There were others as well.
Like rock, hip-hop/rap was a bright spot in 2013.
You know, for a while, it seemed that it was a popular sentiment to consider hip-hop as being “dead”. Perhaps hip-hop was dead briefly, but 2013 has shown no death or funeral for the genre, which had some gargantuan commercial impacts on the music industry. Big sales from Eminem, Drake, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and J. Cole definitely pumped some meds into a sagging musical economy (792K, 658K, 528K, 327K, and 297K debuts), not to mention had us head-nodding, LOL. Other hip-hop albums also captivated us with solid 100,000+ starts, including Kid Cudi’s Indicud (no. 2, 136,000 copies), A$AP Rocky’s Long.Live ASAP (no. 1, 139,000 copies), and Mac Miller’s Watching Movies With the Sound Off (no. 3, 102,000 copies). Others fell below that ‘threshold of success’, but gained our attention nonetheless: Tyler, the Creator (Wolf, no. 3, 80,000 copies), Earl Sweatshirt (Doris, no. 5, 49,000 copies), and A$AP Ferg (Trap Lord, no. 9, 32,000 copies). “Hip-hop don’t stop.”
Of course there are plenty more takeaways…there’s always more takeaways. Lady Gaga’s underwhelming showing would be worth noting, while Miley Cyrus definitely deserves a headline all by herself. Daft Punk and the successes of electronic music itself are quite notable, but I’ll save those for a later time. Enough analysis and opining for one post!
- Comparing Five R&B Artist’s First Week Sales in 2013 to Their Previous Effort (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Thoughts on the 56th Annual Grammy Nominations (brentmusicreviews.com)
You know, after ‘working’ so hard, Britney Spears had the most lackadaisical sales week of her lengthy career. Sure, there are artists who would salivate over the 107,000 copies Ms. Spears moved with Britney Jean, but if you look contextually, you’ll see ole girl had a tepid showing on the sales front. 107,000 copies in a more robust December would barely give Spears a top ten bow. She manages to land at no. 4, preserving her run of top four bows. Still, 107,000 copies is a very small ceiling for Spears, or any artist.
But the headline is not Britney Spears – it’s Garth Brooks. After debuting at no. 3 with Blame it All On My Roots, he ascends to no. 1 moving nearly as many copies… whoa! After selling a strong 164,000 copies last week for a no. 3 bow, Brooks sells 146,000 more copies, a very small percentage drop. Brooks’ continued success is definitely a bright spot for country music, who save for a few artists/albums (Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton namely) hasn’t had its greatest showing in 2013.
Other than Britney and Garth, things are relatively boring. One Direction plummets in sales after moving a robust 546,000 copies of Midnight Memories its first week. 117,000 copies is the grand total within the second week, but it’s enough to hold off Britney and just slip one spot to no. 2. Kelly Clarkson also managed to scoot ahead of Britney Jean, just compounding Britney’s not-so-good week. No, there’s no animosity between the pop stars, but Clarkson’s album has now been out for several weeks and is a Christmas album (Wrapped in Red).
With holdovers playing their usual role within the top ten, the most notable movements worth mentioning are the ascent of Pentatonix (PTXmas) at no. 7, the re-entrance of Michael Buble (Christmas) at no. 8, and an ascent by Mary J. Blige (A Mary Christmas) at no. 10. Blige’s sales increases are likely attributed to not only the holiday, but also quite possibly the $3.99 amazon.com deal going on with the mp3 version of the effort.
After a return to the summit of the Billboard Hot 100, Miley Cyrus is once more dethroned, but not by Lorde. After several weeks of hovering near the top, Eminem and his favorite female collaborator, Rihanna crown the singles chart with “The Monster”. Does Em have another “Love the Way You Lie” on his hands? We’ll see!
Whose got next? Good question. R. Kelly (Black Panties) and Childish Gambino (Because the Internet) were the two most notable releases of the week, but contextually, I’m not sure that that means much. R. Kelly would be a lock for a no. 1 years back, but his sales have dwindled tremendously in recent times. As for Childish Gambino, I’m curious to see what the sales figures are like. I hope he over-performs, but who knows. I expect a holdover will top the chart.
- On the Charts: Like Old Times for Britney and Garth (rollingstone.com)
- ‘Britney Jean’ nets Britney Spears her worst opening week ever; Garth Brooks and Duck Dynasty carry on (music-mix.ew.com)
- One Direction Claim Yet Another No. 1 With ‘Midnight Memories’ (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Britney Spears Scores Worst Debut Yet With Britney Jean (Roll Call) – ARTICLE (entertainably.com)
- Oops … The Album ‘Bombed!’ Britney Spears’ New Album Set To Debut At #4 With Her Worst-Ever First Week Sales (radaronline.com)
So the Grammy nominations just came out, and guess who is already putting his two cents in about who’s gonna win? This guy is! Yep it is technically ‘way too early’, but who cares? How about some December predictions for what’s gonna go down in January?
The Big Four
Record of the Year
“Radioactive”, Imagine Dragons
“Locked Out of Heaven”, Bruno Mars
“Blurred Lines”, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell
This is one of the most competitive categories, period. All five of these are worthy records, which isn’t always true. If one feels like it’s out of place, it is Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven”, mostly because it is the ‘oldest’ of the bunch.
Both “Blurred Lines” and “Royals” are deserving of love based on their impact, but just because you ruled the Hot 100 certainly doesn’t equate to a Grammy. If one of these two wins, I’d give the edge to Lorde, who doesn’t have various controversies on her back. Still, rock would get a huge recognition if Imagine Dragons’ mammoth hit “Radioactive” was awarded here. Still, doesn’t Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” seem unavoidable here, particularly if the duo is victorious in the Album of the Year category?
Way Too Early Pick:
Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky”
Album of the Year
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick Lamar
The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Red, Taylor Swift
I’m not even going to curb my biases – I’m rooting for Kendrick Lamar’s rap opus Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. But I won’t even begin to act like it has a shot after hip-hop has been avoided like a plague in this coveted category; its only been a decade since OutKast’s undeniable masterpiece Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was awarded AOTY. But Kendrick also has killer competition within his own genre with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ breakthrough The Heist, which is certainly considered more ‘friendly’ hip-hop. I think both cancel each other out, which leaves Sara Bareilles, Taylor Swift, and Daft Punk. As good as Red is, Taylor Swift has already won for her career-breakthrough, Fearless. Sara Bareilles’ inclusion over bigger pop albums is shocking, but never count out the surprise nominee… sometimes that’s the album that wins. Personally, I think Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is the frontrunner.
Way Too Early Pick:
Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Song of the Year
“Locked Out of Heaven” (Bruno Mars)
“Roar” (Katy Perry)
“Same Love” (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert)
Another big-time category, my goodness! All of the nominees here should be jumping for joy that “Get Lucky” wasn’t nominated in this category. Again, I’m going to eliminate “Locked Out Of Heaven”, no matter how good it is; I don’t think it’s Bruno’s year. While I love Pink and approved of “Just Give Me The Reason” (with Nate Ruess of fun.), I’m not sure the no. 1 hit is the best song of the year. If the voters want to go bold (and political), they vote for the fine “Same Love”, courtesy of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert. If they don’t, they’re left with the inspirational breakthrough “Roar” and the ubiquitous “Royals”. If Katy Perry was ever to win a Grammy, “Royals” would be the perfect song. However, that “Royals” is one unique song contrasting its fellow nominees.
Way Too Early Pick
Best New Artist
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Another category where I’m biased to one artist – Kendrick Lamar! Again though, Lamar is up against heavyweights Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Kacey Musgraves unapologetic brand of country is notable from what I heard, but I’m not sure she outpaces the huge hip-hop nominees. Ed Sheeran feels either a year late or a year early, depending on your perspective, but could certainly play spoils. James Blake’s nod is a ‘trap’ for the hip-hop favorites, amplified by his Mercury Prize victory for superb sophomore album Overgrown. I’m truly torn here, so I’ll go with who I think is most deserving, even if it doesn’t come to pass.
Way Too Early Pick
So some things went down in music this past weekend, as they always do. But being December, it’s naturally busier within the holiday season, with more ‘hustle and bustling’ happening. Some of the hustling and bustling was just too colorful not to mention, so watch me ‘go to work’ folks!
Selena Gomez’s Bad Night
Friday, December 6, 2013
Apparently, Selena Gomez got incredibly frustrated on stage at the Jingle Ball 2013 and left her set early after microphone issues. According the Us Weekly, this involved a colorful f-word many frequent during those rebellious teen and collegiate years. Ultimately, from what I gather, didn’t seem like the greatest moment for the young star… I wouldn’t have wanted to “Come & Get It” anyways – remember my review of Stars Dance? Just saying!
Does Carrie Underwood Have an Even Worse One?
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Carrie Underwood apparently didn’t do The Sound of Music justice, or at least the critics give it the big thumbs down. Actually, no only was it the critics, but also one of the original cast members, Kym Karath. I mean, all I have to do is do a Google search of “Carrie Underwood Sound of Music” and the links of reviews and buzz are infinite. USA Today features an article entitled Carrie Underwood ‘proud’ of ‘Sound of Music’, certainly a defense from the country superstar to the critical panning. An obvious sign of frustration from the usually cool, collected singer? Killing ‘em with Jesus via tweet:
Plain and simple: Mean people need Jesus. They will be in my prayers tonight… 1 Peter 2:1-25—
Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) December 07, 2013
Personally, I enjoy Carrie Underwood, but one of her shortcomings for me is how her personality translates artistically. She definitely has a voice on her, but few could also be a credible replacement for Julie Andrews. Classics are difficult to remake for a reason –their classics. I was not privy to the NBC performance, however it didn’t sound like a good idea when I heard it was going to occur.
The Grammy Nominations Are In…
Friday, December 6, 2013
On Friday night, the Grammy nominations were announced at the annual Grammy Nomination Concert. This was the first concert I missed and for two reasons – (1) I forgot and (2) I was more focused on watching my Kentucky Wildcats play a basketball game versus Baylor, which they dropped 67-62. Oh well, at least the nominations were much more up my alley than they have been in previous years, which is shocking. Among the nods that most pleased me were big time nominations for Kendrick Lamar (Good Kid M.A.A.D. City), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Thrift Shop), Daft Punk (Random Access Memories), and Lorde (“Royals”). Among puzzlements were an album of the year nomination for Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest and Justin Timberlake’s snubs in the biggest categories of record, album, and song of the year. Sigh, you win some, you lose some I guess. By the way, Billboard has an interesting read on Grammy Nominations Concert: Things You Didn’t See on TV.
Robin Thicke Gets Support from Soul Vet in Defense of “Blurred Lines”
Saturday, December 7, 2003
There’s been a ton of controversy surrounding “Blurred Lines” despite its monstrous popularity. Before the cool “Royals” came along and dominated the single headlines, there was “Blurred Lines” which just kept on going and going and going – yeah sorta like the Energizer Bunny. Anyways, with a lawsuit pending over whether Thicke ‘lifted’ “Blurred Lines” from Marvin Gaye’s classic “Got to Give It Up”, Earth Wind & Fire’s Verdine White provided his two cents, defending the same point that I made that Thicke did not ‘cop’ “Blurred Lines”. I’ve always said the inspiration was there, but there are differences where the music theory is concerned between both songs.
Disappointing Pending Album Sales for Britney Spears?
Friday, December 6, 2013
Britney Spears’ new effort Britney Jean hasn’t exactly been a critical smash (see Metacritic), but does that always matter if you can offset the bashing with album sales? Why Of course not as money is money! The problem is, Britney Jean’s pending numbers are looking pretty skinny. And we thought that Lady Gaga had a bad week contextually with ARTPOP. According to billboard.com, Spears is expected to sell between 115,000 and 120,000 copies of her latest. While there are artists who’d kill for those numbers, they don’t match the singers past triumphs and may hold her from no. 1. Going back to the critical thing, well, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with Britney Jean, but it had its moments. Single “Work B**ch” was among ‘em.
Joe Jonas’ Confessions
December 1, 2013
So Joe Jonas has revealed he is “not that innocent” this past week via a New York Magazine article, Joe Jonas: My Life As a Jonas Brother. Someone get Usher’s 2004 Confessions album cued up, will ya? What is more surprising is just how rebellious the former Disney star has been considering the façade being ‘put on’. Sure, if any other 20 year old discussed losing his virginity it wouldn’t be shocking (probably just another notch on the belt as they say), but it becomes sensational news with a Jo Bro. I mean, did were we ready for such a brash tone from Joe throughout the article? While Jonas’ sexual history is ultimately his business, perhaps it was his Miley Cyrus / Demi Lovato marijuana dare that is more troubling, considering they are couple of years younger than Jonas and at the time of the great ‘lighting up’, they would’ve been like 14… Hmm. The Hollywood Reporter did a fine job of summing up the confessions.
As far as the reactions, well they range as to be expeced. Dylan Sprouse and Zendaya, both of Disney fame had reactions (Former Disney Stars Respond To Joe Jonas’ Confessional). Personally, I’m both interested yet apathetic. It is interesting to find out that Joe Jonas was more like your normal young adult than Disney wanted to present, but the other side of that is, so what?
- NBC’s “The Sound Of Music” – Starring Carrie Underwood – Is a Massive Rating Success (roughstock.com)
- Carrie Underwood ‘Proud’ Of ‘Sound Of Music Live!’ Performance After Original Star Blasts Her (contactmusic.com)
- Who the Von Trapps Wish Could Replace Carrie Underwood in ‘The Sound of Music Live’ (abcnews.go.com)
- In Defense of Carrie Underwood (entertainment.time.com)
- ‘Sound of Music’ — and Underwood — largely a success (newsday.com)
One Direction do the predictable – debut at no. 1 and move lots of albums. Midnight Memories managed to sell 546,000 copies, giving the Brit-Irish boy band its largest sales week ever. 2012 sophomore album Take Me Home moved 540,000 copies to give the band a second no. 1 in the US. It was history when their debut effort, Up All Night, debuted in the top spot in early 2012, though its numbers were just a fraction of what the last two studio albums have sold (176,000). As for newbies on the chart, Garth Brooks does some work as Blame It All on My Roots sold 164,000 copies good for a no. 3 bow. That is awesome considering it’s a box set. Box sets tend to be more expensive and generally move less copies. Given it’s release during the Black Friday hubbub and its exclusivity via Walmart, it’s not shocking Brooks had some takers. Besides One Direction and Brooks, the week was all about previously releases efforts.
Eminem once more was forced from the top perch to no. 2, but sold 199,000 more copies of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (already platinum). Others holding over include The Robertsons’ Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas (no. 4), Katy Perry’s Prism (no. 5), Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red (no. 6), Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP (no. 7) and Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party. What is significant about those albums? They all sold > 100,000 copies. Miley Cyrus also and Now 48 close out the top ten at nos. 9 and 10 respectively, but sold 79,000 and 77,000 copies, breaking the >100,000 copies sold.
Lorde’s Hot 100 reign is officially over with “Royals” – well at least for the time being. It was a nice nine weeks for Lorde, who has no reason to hang her teenage head. Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” climbs it way back to the no. 1 spot. “Wrecking Ball” is the song that just can’t keep people from talking, really! Better yet, it can’t keep people from making their own versions…
Whose Got Next? Britney Spears of course, but the numbers are looking relatively small, with Billboard prognosticating between 115,000 to 120,000 copies sold. Yuck Britney! Why those numbers suck? Well, Britney is usually a lock for no. 1 or at worst no. 2 like Blackout, however, the numbers may not be strong enough to hold back previously released (aka holdovers) from charting ahead of the pop diva. Could Spears be blocked out of the top 3? Possibly. Besides Britney, it’s a pretty boring week for new releases.
- The 2013 Fourth Quarter Music Releases Underwhelm… (brentmusicreviews.com)
- One Direction’s ‘Midnight Memories’ Tops U.S. Album Charts (variety.com)
- On the Charts: One Direction Making ‘Memories’ at Number One (rollingstone.com)
- One Direction land a third US number one album with “Midnight Memories” (thecelebculture.com)
In a ‘down’ week for albums sales this week, unsurprisingly given a lack of star power bowing… no offense to those artists releasing albums mind you. Eminem finds himself in a familiar spot once more as The Marshall Mathers LP 2 ascends to no. 1 after spending a week at no. 2 behind Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP. Eminem managed to sell another 120,000 copies of TMMLP2, putting its three week totals at approximately 1,122,000 copies sold (792K + 210K + 120K). Yep, Em has yet another platinum album to his name and selling another 120,000 copies – six figures, is impressive in this day and age. As for his fine feathered friend Lady Gaga, she takes a massive tumble from the penthouse to no. 8 after selling a somewhat disappointing 258,000 copies last week. This week, she only moves 46,000 copies, making her overall totals stand at just 304,000 copies over two weeks. Could Gaga end up merely achieving a gold record with ARTPOP? Only time and most importantly sales will tell.
There were some debuts, though as alluded to, nothing extremely anticipated. Five Finger Death Punch release their second album of the year, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2. The second volume arrives at no. 2 matching the peak of the first. What doesn’t match are the sales. Volume 1 moved 112,000 copies while this installment settles for a respectable, but lest robust 77,000 copies. As we know, if an artist releases two albums in one year with similar concept/theme, usually the second one receives less enthusiasm commercially. Justin Timberlake experienced this as his triumphant The 20/20 Experience sold 968,000 copies its first week while The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 was met with much less enthusiasm selling on 350,000 copies. Both debuted at no. 1, but the numbers and the sustainability have been markedly different.
Other debuts? The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack debuts at no. 5 selling 55,000 copies. Daughtry underwhelms with his entry at no. 6 selling 55,000 as well. Those numbers are far off from Daughtry’s first two albums 2006’s Daughtry (304,000) and 2009’s Leave This Town (269,000). Yo Gotti debuts at no. 7 with I Am, selling a respectable 48,000 copies. Of the charts new debuts, Gotti has the most to be proud of. KTCZ’s Cities 97 Sampler, Live From Studio C: Vol. 25 bows at no. 10 with 40,000 copies. Holdovers for the week besides Lady Gaga and Eminem included Now 48 (no. 3), …A Robertson Family Christmas (no. 4), and Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red (no. 9).
On the Hot 100, Lorde’s “Royals” continues to be one of the year’s most unstoppable forces as the ‘little song that could’ spends its ninth consecutive week at no. 1. Even so, according to Billboard, Eminem’s hot joint “The Monster”, featuring Rihanna is looking for that no. 1 spot. As we know, Em and Ri-Ri have had some star power in the past with ‘monster’ single “Love The Way You Lie”. Watch out Lorde, you may not be ‘royal’ too much longer!
Who’s Got Next? No brainer, it’s One Direction. Mark my words, Midnight Memories, the quintet’s third album in two years will sell big. Besides 1D, the other new releases pack less of a punch. Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) and Norah Jones release a remake of an album by The Everly Brothers entitled Foreverly (the remake is of Songs Our Daddy Taught Us from 1958), but it doesn’t seem to be a powerful commercial title. Pop/Vocal veteran Barbra Streisand can never be ignored as she releases Back to Brooklyn. Voice victor Danielle Bradbery releases her self-titled debut, but who knows if it will have match the numbers of previous victor in the country genre Cassidee Pope, who sold 43,000 copies of Frame by Frame. Regardless, the week will belong to One Direction.
- Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP Hits No. 1 (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Debuts Big (brentmusicreviews.com)
- The 2013 Fourth Quarter Music Releases Underwhelm… (brentmusicreviews.com)
Unsurprisingly, Lady Gaga finds herself at no. 1 once more with latest album ARTPOP. Selling 258,000 copies would be pretty impressive if it weren’t Lady Gaga. Born This Way moved 1.1 million, and while a special discounting offer helped to seal the deal there, 258,000 copies seems like quite the fall off from her previous sales best. Still, her Gaga-ness outsold her next closest competitions, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (210,000) and the debut of Now That’s What I Call Music, Vol. 48 (142,000). What is impressive about Eminem’s second week numbers and Now 48’s debuting numbers is that both buck the ugly trend where lately the second and third bestselling albums fail to move 100,000 copies. Billboard rightfully discusses the significance of Now 48’s sales in particular.
Even though Lady Gaga was the big thing, ARTPOP wasn’t the only new blood to the charts. Other debuts also make their respective splash into the top 10. The Beatles’ On Air: Live at the BBC, Vol. 2 bows at no. 7 with 37,000 copies. Jhene Aiko’s EP Sail Out lands at no. 8 with a respectable 34,000 copies. Holdovers within the chart aside from Eminem included The Robersons’ Duck the Halls: A Roberson Family Christmas (no. 4) , Katy Perry’s PRISM (no. 5), Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red (no. 6), Drake’s Nothing Was The Same (no. 9), and Lorde’s Pure Heroine (no. 10). And just because you asked, yes “Royals” is no. 1 on the Hot 100 for the eighth consecutive week.
Who’s Got Next? Well now… Daughtry’s Baptized could certainly make some noise. Yo Gotti releases his major label debut (after being an independent artist mind you) with I Am. Also Jake Bugg releases his sophomore album Shangri La. Basically, it seems like a ‘down’ week, compared to previous ones. No disrespect of course.
- Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Debuts Big (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Why isn’t Lady Gaga’s ‘ARTPOP’ getting a sales boost from her ‘SNL’ appearance? (music-mix.ew.com)
- Interscope loses $25 million promotional bet on Lady Gaga ‘ArtPop’ bomb (kingsofar.com)
- Lady Gaga’s $25 Million Art Machine Can’t Buy a Real Hit (businessweek.com)
- Fumbled Lady Gaga Release Could Cost Interscope $25 Million (hypebot.com)
2013 has produced many notable albums overall. Among the many triumphs include an alternative juggernaut (Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City), a soulful return (John Legend’s, Love in the Future), an atheistic Brit-metal reunion (Black Sabbath’s 13), and an electronic thriller (Daft Punk’s, Random Access Memories). Those aforementioned titles are just some of the sound efforts that thrilled us in 2013. That said, it is usually the fourth quarter (October through December) in which the record companies roll out those unstoppable commercial blockbusters. Some arrive in September as well, though the first week sales totals tend to ascend to loftier heights during the month of October. The problem for fourth quarter releases in 2013 is that there seem to be fewer of these sure-fire blockbusters or worse yet, the expected blockbusters are flops.
In October, the ‘big-time’ releases included Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 (released off-cycle on September 30), Miley Cyrus’s Bangerz, Pearl Jam’s Lightening Bolt, Katy Perry’s PRISM, and Arcade Fire’s Reflektor. That’s not a bad list in the least with all of these albums debuting at no. 1. The numbers for these releases were superb contextually given album sales in recent times. That said, it wouldn’t be until Eminem’s November 5th release of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 that sales would move past that 500,000 threshold. In fact, the top release of the October collective of albums was Timberlake’s second album, which sold 350,000. That paled in comparison to the near million that The 20/20 Experience sold just earlier in the year. The smallest of the no. 1 bows impacting the charts came from Arcade Fire’s Reflektor with 140,000 copies sold. 140,000 copies are solid numbers, especially for an alternative rock band, but those numbers can’t dig music sales out of their recession.
On a related note, what’s been more troubling when analyzing chart numbers has been the top-heaviness of the chart usually with only the ‘star’ album. This week, Eminem gave the charts nearly 800,000 copies boost, BUT the week’s second bestseller, Celine Dion’s Loved Me Back to Life, sold <100,000 copies (77,000 to be exact). If fourth quarter sales continue at this tepid rate, particularly with former bigger names like Celine Dion and Avril Lavigne underperforming, the fourth quarter certainly won’t make up for the sales issues of 2013; The effect of an 800,000K blockbuster wouldn’t be sufficient.
The best bets left to impact the charts in a big way seem few and far between. The biggest impacters are likely Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP (November 14), One Direction’s Midnight Memories (November 25) and Britney Spears’ Britney Jean (December 3). Lady Gaga’s numbers are quite underwhelming based on early prognostications; she may sell 260,000 copies. As for One Direction, big numbers wouldn’t be shocking, particularly considering Take Me Home debuted at no. 1 last year with over 500K, but how much will Midnight Memories move, particularly given a younger demographic? Can they match or exceed their former numbers? Britney Spears certainly can have a huge week, but has she cooled off since her heyday? What I’m basically saying is, the fourth quarter seems a couple of releases short of a definitive hit.
The other problem or a question with the fourth quarter is, will their be that Christmas album that puts the music industry on its back to infuse some charting numbers? There have been holiday albums released by Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Susan Boyle, and The Robertsons (of Duck Dynasty). Will any of these become that hot selling commodity leading into Christmas? The best bets would be Clarkson or Duck Dynasty as Susan Boyle and Blige haven’t made much of an impact as of yet. Also what about this albums lingering in or around the top ten such as Drake’s Nothing Was the Same, Katy Perry’s Prism, Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz, or surprise Lorde’s Pure Heroine. Can any of these gain a second wind and salvage the fourth quarter glory?
As stated earlier, personally, I feel this year’s fourth quarter feels a piece or two short. Time will tell if this is the case of course.
- Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 Debuts Big (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’ Hits No. 1 On The Billboard 200 (huffingtonpost.com)
Various Artists⎪ NOW That’s What I Call Music, Vol. 48⎪ UMG ⎪⎪ US Release Date: November 11, 2013
In some respects, the term ‘compilation’ is synonymous to a swear word. Maybe it’s not quite as obscene as the f-word itself, but it’s at least worthy of a baby-curse word, LOL. Why? Because compilations – particularly music compilations – seem to always be filled with flaws, period. The main reason is not only the choice of song that makes the compilation versus those that miss the cut, but also because of timing. Generally, I’m a firm believer that all compilations would be better if the songs included were just nearing that peak and were still considered ‘hot’ you might say. Unfortunately, NOW That’s What I Call Music, Vol. 48, like former installments of the NOW series, doesn’t see my perspective obviously.
Among smart inclusions on this particularly compilation include “Roar” (Katy Perry), “Treasure” (Bruno Mars), “Wake Me Up” (Avicii), “Applause” (Lady Gaga), and “That’s My Kind of Night” (Luke Bryan). The aforementioned numbers all seem to still have a ‘hotness’ and relevance and relevance about them. While Lady Gaga’s “Applause” is lukewarm compared to her more risqué “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly, you can still see the logic of its inclusion. “Roar” has truly been a beast (no pun intended), while all things Luke Bryan seem to be in.
Among more questionable inclusions on Now 48 are “Blurred Lines” (Robin Thicke), “Get Lucky” (Daft Punk), “We Can’t Stop” (Miley Cyrus), “Slow Down” (Selena Gomez), “Sail” (AWOLNATION), and “Brave” (Sara Bareilles). Yes, there a some big name songs that were big time hits included within that list. The problem is, many of these should’ve and could’ve been included on earlier compilations. “Blurred Lines”, “Get Lucky”, “We Can’t Stop” and “Sail” all seem too late. Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” is definitely late, but also an questionable inclusion when you look at the company it resides alongside. Similarly, “Slow Down” by Selena Gomez seems out of place, particularly given that “Come & Get It” was the notable hit from a cooling off Stars Dance.
Other arguments could be made for and against Now 48 as well as the franchise as a whole. I appreciate the fact that it does offer listeners with a slice of popular music. However, as shown by my nitpicking, I think that the assembling of such a ‘slice’ could be even better executed. No compilation will ever be perfect or tailor-made for every music listener, but couldn’t Now 48 come just a wee bit closer?