Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece © RCA

25 Chart Takeaways: Kelly Clarkson Earns Third #1 Album 


Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece © RCA

The first American Idol victor has been able to establish a career beyond the show. This week, Kelly Clarkson lands her third number one album. That and many more chart takeaways worth examining!

1) Kelly Clarkson scores her third number one album with Piece By Piece. The numbers – sales and overall impact – are down significantly from previous efforts.

Fifty Shades Of Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) © Republic

2) Fifty Shades of Grey returns to its peak position on the Billboard 200 – #2.

3) Taylor Swift rebounds from #5 to #3. 1989 still has plenty of juice to say the least.

Drake, If You're Reading This You're Too Late © Cash Money

4) It’s “all good” for Drake as If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late remains at #4.

Big Sean, Dark Sky Paradise © Def Jam

5) Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise dips from #1 to #6 in its second week.

6) Brandi Carlile’s The Firewatcher’s Daughter debuts at #9, which is “good looking out” for singer/songwriter album by all means.

7) Kid Rock’s latest album First Kiss drops from #2 to #11 in its second week on the Billboard 200.

8) Imagine DragonsSmoke + Mirrors drops out of the top ten this week (#9 to #14).

Beck, Morning Phase © Capitol

9) Beck sees his Morning Phase ascend back into the top echelon of the charts. It rises from #57 to #19.

10) Third Day’s Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship debuts at #20.

Chris Brown & Tyga, Fan of a Fan the Album © RCA : Cash Money

11) Chris Brown & Tyga’s Fan Of A Fan: The Album doesn’t have a stellar second week, dropping from #7 to #24. Ouch!

12) British pop and contemporary R&B boy band Rixton debut album Let The Road lands at #32.

13) Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds sophomore album Chasing Yesterday debuts modestly at #35.

14) Childish Gambino’s Because The Internet rises from #121 to #43 this week.

15) Shania Twain’s live album, Shania: Still The One: Live From Vegas debuts modestly at #58. Interestingly, Twain’s Greatest Hits reenters the charts at #130 in it’s 72nd week after formerly peaking at #2.

Kid Ink, Full Speed © RCA

16) Kid Ink finally has some good news, albeit modest – Full Speed improves from #76 to #65.

17) Terrible second week for Falling In Reverse. Just Like You slips 50 spots from #21 to #71.

18) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I soundtrack improves from #127 to #78 in its 16th week on the chart. Go Katniss!

19) It’s an Anomaly! Christian rapper Lecrae sees his former chart-topping album improve from #165 to #83. What a blessing indeed!

Schoolboy Q, Oxymoron © Interscope

20) Schoolboy Q had a nice week as Oxymoron improved 88 spots from #178 to #90. Now that’s what one calls “Los Awesome.”

21) George Ezra gets a small victory as Wanted On Voyage improves from #112 to #101.

Iggy Azalea, The New Classic © Def Jam

22) Iggy Azalea’s The New Classic reenters the Billboard 200 at #108, marking it’s 42nd week on the charts.

23) Charlie Wilson it’s not your week this week – and it’s never been with Forever Charlie. Forever Charlie slips from #68 to #123 in its sixth week on the chart.

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek To Cheek © Streamline/Columbia/Interscope

24) No celebrations this week for Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga as Cheek To Cheek slips from #51 to #132.

Father John Misty, I Love You, Honeybear © Subpop

25) Sales generally continue to be modest for Father John Misty. Sadly, I Love You, Honeybear slips from #115 to #162 this week, only four short weeks in on the charts.

Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour © Capitol

57th Annual Grammy Notes


Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour © Capitol

So, I spent the better part of my Sunday night watching the 57th annual Grammys – better known as wasting my time. Why do I indulge in music’s Super Bowl every year when I know that there’s always going to be Grammys given to the wrong folks? I guess it’s the hunger to see how the Recording Academy votes, even if I know the album of the year is likely going to go against the grain.   This year, the album of the year wasn’t even saved as the last award – what does that tell you?

Anyways, here are some notes I took while partaking of the Grammys. Yes, they are literally notes!

1) What better way to open up the Grammys than a rocking performance from veteran rockers AC/DC. There was nothing blasé about the Aussie rockers, whose second song was “Highway To Hell” hell heck yeah!

2) Taylor Swift comes to present the first award of the night, Best New Artist. She does reference the fact she didn’t win the Best New Artist in 2008, and quotes her hit song “Shake It Off.” Make of it what you will, but when the small talk is done, it’s no surprise that Sam Smith came out on top. I mean, who was going to stop him?

3) Anna Kendrick introduces Ariana Grande, who performs “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart” from My Everything. The performance is definitely more restrained, with Grande getting off to a bit of a shaky start. Once Grande hits her power register, it’s on.

4) Jessie J and Sir Tom Jones take the stage, honoring the recipients of the Trustees Award (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil). J and Jones perform a duet of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” Then came the award for best pop solo performance. The result was a shock, as Pharrell Williams took home the Grammy for “Happy,” something of an upset against heavyweights like John Legend (“All of Me”) and Sam Smith (“Stay With Me”).

5) Miranda Lambert performed “Little Red Wagon”… that was something! Then, Pentatonix and Gibb presented the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album to Sam Smith for In The Lonely Hour. Again, was there that much doubt? Well, there was some after the previous upset.

6) Kanye West takes the Grammy stage for the first time in six years performing his new song, “Only One.” Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj introduce Madonna, who performs her single “Living For Love.” As expected, she shows off that thigh – LOL! Oh and yeah, it was as theatrical as you would expect. She is Madonna after all – 56 or not! Oh and that gospel choir – on point!

7) Joshua Duhamel, Malcolm Butler, and Julian Edelman present the Grammy for Best Rock Album to Beck for Morning Phase.

8) Nile Rodgers and Smokey Robinson celebrate George Harrison by awarding him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Best R&B Performance is awarded to Beyoncé & Jay-Z for “Drunk in Love” – predictable.

9) Ed Sheeran performs “Thinking Out Loud” alongside John Mayer and Herbie Hancock. Hands down, it ranks among the night’s best performances. Herbie Hancock’s thoughtful tinkling on the piano, Mayer’s brilliant guitar (and backing vocals), and of course Sheeran’s pitch-perfect vocals. Chilling to say the least! The Electric Light Orchestra on after Ed Sheeran – can things get any better “Mr. Blue Sky?”

10) Ryan Seacrest introduces Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani, who perform their ‘duet’ “My Heart Is Open” from V. Well it is technically a duet. If nothing else, both are dressed to kill, particularly Stefani in that red dress.

11) Hozier peforms his epic Song of the year nominated “Take Me To Church.” Later, Annie Lennox joins him to sing the harmony atop – she’s definitely still got it! “Take Me To Church” transforms into “I Put A Spell On You” from her Grammy-nominated effort Nostalgia.

12 ) Nick Jonas and Meghan Trainor present the Grammy for Best Country Album to Miranda Lambert for Platinum.

13) The Weeknd introduces Pharrell Williams, who performs his Grammy-winning hit, “Happy.” Williams gets a little help from virtuoso pianist, Lang Lang.

14) Following a segment on the significance of domestic violence and awareness, etc., Katy Perry performs her ballad “By The Grace of God,” definitely an unexpected choice by the pop singer. While the power is felt, the pitch wasn’t always rock solid, but definitely better than expected. Not an easy song to perform in a live setting by any means.

15) Katherine McPhee introduces Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. The chemistry between the two is fantastic. Makes that win for Cheek To Cheek seem like the right choice – at least for one performance.

16) Usher performs “If It’s Magic” from Stevie Wonder’s Songs in The Key of Life. He does a magnificent job, accompanied by harp. Stevie Wonder ends up joining on the harmonica.

17) Keith Urban introduces a Grammy-less Eric Church, who performs “Give Me Back My Hometown” from The Outsiders. You’ve got to appreciate how different Eric Church is from a multitude of country artists, though that pitch at times was shaky. Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam proceed. Keeping an overabundance of performances (with no awards given) going, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, and Rihanna perform their new single, “FourFive Seconds.”

18) Taylor Swift introduces Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige, who perform “Stay With Me.” In yet another performance on an awards show where the awards seem secondary, Juanes follows in yet another performance. Sheesh!

Beck, Morning Phase © Capitol

19) Prince presents the ‘album of the year’ award to the ‘dark horse,’ Beck. Yeah, that’s about where the notes stopped – my mouth was agape.

But there was more after album of the year, like the awards for song/record of the year, which both went to Sam Smith. And Beyoncé performed “Precious Lord” (didn’t suit her in my opinion) and John Legend/Common teamed up to perform “Glory” from Selma.

 

 

Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions © Capitol

Chart Takeaways: Mary J. Blige’s Underwhelming Debut


Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions © Capitol

“Same sh*t, different day,” the profane saying goes. Adapted to the Billboard Charts, “Another week, a different chart.” Okay, okay it doesn’t quite work, but you can’t blame me for trying. As has been the trend every Monday, here’s analysis of the latest Billboard 200 chart. There is some more of the “same sh*t” of course, but there’s also some “new sh*t” too.

Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine Records

1) Taylor Swift is the Kentucky Basketball of the Billboard 200 – She keeps on keeping that number one spot warm. Nothing new to see here folks!

2) Also staying put at #2 is Pentatonix’s That’s Christmas To Me, which is a fine Christmas album by all means.

3) Rock Or Bust proves to be no ‘bust’ for AC/DC at #3.

4) The spirit of Christmas is firmly planted in the consumers’ hearts as Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé reap the benefits at #6 and #7.

5) Unfortunately for Mary J. Blige, her excellent The London Sessions opens in underwhelming fashion at #9 selling only 55,000 copies. Are Mary’s better days behind her for good?

Hozier © Columbia

6) Hozier is proving to have some staying power as he rises from #19 to #12 this week. He’s been “taking us to church” all fall.

7) Google Play probably played a huge role in the reentrance of Pink Floyd’s seminal album The Dark Side of the Moon on the Billboard 200. The Dark Side of the Moon sits at #13 this week.

8) Barbra Streisand’s former #1 album, Partners, rebounds from #25 to #17.

9) The lesser-regarded Pentatonix Christmas album, PTXmas (EP) ascends from #36 to #18. Do the math: 36 – 18 = 18!

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek To Cheek © Streamline/Columbia/Interscope

10) There’s nothing wrong with being Cheek To Cheek when it’s Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, who move up from #29 to #19. That showdown between the duo and Streisand looms come 2015’s Grammys…

11) Bad second week for ShadyXV, which plummets from #3 to #21. Guess fewer people cared about the 15th anniversary than expected…

12) Adam Levine and his band Maroon 5 might be doing it like “Animals,” but V took a back step from #10 to #22. Maybe the lovemaking wasn’t too hot?

13) Walk The Moon debut at #26 with their second album, Talking Is Hard.   Ohio in the top 40!

14) The Wu-Tang Clan’s A Better Tomorrow have to be hoping for better sales as the legendary rap group’s latest album opens rather flatly at #29.

15) You wonder if the fact that Nickelback have No Fixed Address is the reason why the numbers are so-so? A fall from #12 to #30 is never good. Then look right beside them and Better Midler is celebrating a rise from #47 to #31.

Nick Jonas, Nick Jonas © Island

16) Stability might be a good thing for Nick Jonas as Nick Jonas sits at #32 for a second week. If nothing else, it’s better than dropping.

17) So if you thought that Shady Records had a bad week, just ask Rick Ross. The Boss suffered a devastating drop from #6 to #42. Can you say flop?

18) So with 5 Seconds of Summer’s drop from #21 to #46, you’ve gotta wonder if people got tired of seeing her “standing there” in 5SOS’s “American Apparel underwear.” Maybe they prefer boxers/boxer briefs from American Eagle – Hollister – CKs?

19) For Omarion, it’s pretty safe to say that “it’s not going down.” His quietly issued Sex Playlist just barely debuts within the top 50, entering the charts at #49.

20) Give Jessie J credit – Sweet Talker rises from #178 to #66. Will it be enough to make a big impact – nah, but it’s the little things in life (and album sales these days).

21) Iggy Azalea hasn’t done too well being Reclassified. In her second week, nobody was “Beg(ging) her For It” either as she falls from #27 to #69. Not “Fancy” Iggy – not fancy at all!

22) It’s not been a great stint for Lady Antebellum, whose 747 free falls once more from #38 to #78.

23) Apparently the “Talk” got too “Dirty” for Jason Derulo’s Talk Dirty, which drops from #56 to #81.

24) After coming Just As I Am, Brantley Gilbert experiences a plunge from #41 to #97 – Too much partying in that “Small Town Throwdown” eh?

25) A platinum edition is probably not a great idea these days. Just ask Beyoncé, whose latest album Beyoncé – More Only EP dropped 116 spots from #8 to #124. Da-yum!

Florida Georgia Line, Anything Goes © Republic Nashville

4th Quarter Albums Prognostication Scorecard – Take 2!


Florida Georgia Line, Anything Goes © Republic Nashville

In September 2014, I penned a post entitled Prognosticating 4th Quarter Albums!, where I gave my predictions for the sales of some notable albums being released in late September and onward.  Now that seven 12 of those albums have sales figures (one still in progress), let’s see how sound my predicting skills were!

1) Chris Brown, (RCA, 9/16)

Chris Brown, X © RCA

Prediction: 

…Brown might open >100,000 as he did with previous albums, or he might find himself underperforming, selling below 100,000 copies.

Result:

Chris Brown debuted at #2, selling 146,000.  That means that the prediction “Brown might open > 100,000 copies” was right.  Prediction Correct !

Correct:  Incorrect: 0   (1-0) 

2) Barbra Streisand, Partners (Columbia, 9/16)

Barbra Streisand, Partners © Columbia

Prediction:

Vocal albums tend to do relatively well, and Streisand has managed to maintain a solid following… Being realistic, Streisand will likely sell below 100,000 copies too.

Result:

Barbra Streisand debuted at #1, selling a surprisingly robust 196,000 copies.  Not only was Streisand’s first week big, so was her second and third weeks, selling 127,000 and 73,000 and keeping her firmly planted in the top 3 of the Billboard 200.  Prediction Dead Wrong! 

Correct:  Incorrect✖ (1-1)

3) Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek (Columbia/ Interscope, etc. 9/23)

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek To Cheek © Streamline/Columbia/Interscope

Prediction:

…Cheek to Cheek should easily sell over 100,000 copies, possibly closer to the 200,000+ copies mark Duets reached years ago (NOTE: Duets II debuted at #1, but sold 179,000 copies).

 Result:

Cheek To Cheek debuted at #1, selling 131,000.  While the “possibly closer to the 200,000+ copies mark” wasn’t close, the album did “easily sell over 100,000 copies.” Prediction Correct !

Correct✔✔ Incorrect:  (2-1)

4) Jennifer Hudson, JHUD (RCA, 9/23)

Jennifer Hudson, JHUD © RCA

Prediction:

…This is an album that should sell greater than 100,000 copies, but likely will not achieve such a feat. Between 60,000 and 80,000 copies seems possible, and that’s elevated compared to most other R&B acts as of late.  

Result:

Jennifer Hudson had a much worse week than anticipated; JHUD debuted at #10 selling only 24,000 copies.   I technically stated that  “Between 60,000 and 80,000 copies seems possible, and that’s elevated compared to most other R&B acts as of late,” but I didn’t expect JHUD to perform nearly as poorly as it did.  Prediction Dead Wrong! 

Correct✔✔ Incorrect✖✖ (2-2) 

5) Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE & PLECTRUMELECTRUM (Warner Bros 9/30)

Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE © Warner Bros

Prediction:

…One album would likely eclipse the other in sales – it’s happened numerous times historically. Likely, I’d bet more on Art Official Age than PLECTRUMELECTRUM, his album with 3rdEyeGirl. Predicting Prince’s sales are difficult, though his recent crop of albums have exceeded 100,000 copies the first week, with the exception being Planet Earth (#3, 96,000 copies).

Result:

No trap for yours truly here.  One album did eclipse the other one for The Purple One as Art Official Age nearly doubled up PLECTRUMELECTRUM’s sales 51,000 vs 26,000. Prediction Correct !

Correct✔✔✔ Incorrect✖✖ (3-2) 

6) Lady Antebellum, 747 (Capitol Nashville, 9/30)

Lady Antebellum, 747 © Capitol Nashville

Prediction:

I expect Lady A will exceed 100,000 copies, but won’t quite match 167,000 copies. If by some chance they do exceed, it won’t be greater than 200,000 copies.

Result:

This one was surprising.  While I wasn’t too impressed with Lady Antebellum’s previous album Golden,  I didn’t expect 747 to only sell 74,000 copies.  Prediction Dead Wrong!  

Correct✔✔✔ Incorrect✖✖✖ (3-3)

7) Jason Aldean, Old Boots New Dirt (Broken Bow, 10/7)

Jason Aldean, Old Boots New Dirt © Broken Bow

Prediction:

Jason Aldean is a hot commodity as far as country music is concerned…look for Aldean to score another #1 album and robust numbers. 200,000 copies wouldn’t be far-fetched…

Result:

Yeah, I’m jumping the gun on this one, but updated prognostications claim that Aldean is a lock for #1 and the numbers are indeed robust between 270,000 and 290,000.  Yep, I predicted too low, but with the key words being in place, I’m giving myself credit! Prediction Mostly Correct ✔!

Correct✔✔✔✔ Incorrect: ✖✖✖ (4-3)

NOW TIME TO PICK UP WHERE WE LEFT OFF THE LAST TIME!

8) Florida Georgia Line, Anything Goes (Big Machine, 10/14)

Florida Georgia Line, Anything Goes © Big Machine Prediction:

“Cruise” was just too big and FGL will reap the benefits in a big way on Anything Goes. At least 200,000 copies (being conservative), but this will likely be an even more robust album.   

Result:

Ultimately, I think I nailed this one for the most part. I did overhype sales a bit by saying 200,000 copies was “being conservative,” but FGL ended up selling 197,000 copies, right at my 200,000 copies prognostication. Prediction Correct !

Correct✔✔✔✔✔ Incorrect✖✖✖ (5-3)

9) Neil Diamond, Melody Road (Capitol, 10/21)

Neil Diamond, Melody Road © Capitol

Prediction:

Neil Diamond likely won’t approach the numbers that Aldean or Florida Georgia Line will experience, but Melody Road’s potential sales shouldn’t be underrated…selling somewhere in the 100,000 copies ballpark seams quite attainable for Diamond. 

Result: 

Eh, I wasn’t extremely off, but not enough to award myself a Correct by any means. I did CORRECTLY state that Melody Road’s sales should be underrated, which ended up being true considering Diamond ended up selling 78,000 copies. Those numbers are better than a lot of artists more than half his age. He didn’t quite reach the 100,000 copies mark. Prediction Dead Wrong incorrect! 

Correct✔✔✔✔✔ Incorrect✖✖✖✖ (5-4) 

10) Taylor Swift, 1989 (Big Machine, 10/27)

Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine Records

Prediction:

Can Swift possibly score a third album that sells a million copies its first week? Yes, it is quite possible, and it would be ill advised to bet against Swift…I hold out the hope that Swift can move a milli, but will prognosticate a bit more conservatively. 500,000 copies minimally, maximally close to the million-mark at 800-900K.   

Result:

Yeah, my record is at .500. I correctly showed optimism that Swift could move a million, but I topped her off at 900,000 copies. Swift, as we know, bested – better yet “beasted” – selling 1.287 millions copies. The difference between 900K and 1.287 are too great for me to fudge. Cuss words, here comes the red marks once more! Prediction Dead Wrong! 

Correct✔✔✔✔✔ Incorrect✖✖✖✖✖ (5-5) 

11) Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways (RCA, 11/10)

Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways © RCA

Prediction:

Foo Fighters should be in line for another #1, but will likely have to fend off a red-hot Taylor Swift, who will likely cling onto that #1 spot. Still, Foo Fighters might just be settling for a robust #2 bow at worst. Easily should sell 150,000 copies – could reach/surpass the 200,000 copies mark, like Wasting Light did in 2011. 

Result: 

Nailed it – take that Taylor Swift! Sonic Highways indeed settled for #2 behind Swift and sold 190,000 copies – right in the ballpark of my estimations. I’m so good. Record is .545. Prediction Correct ✔!

Correct✔✔✔✔✔✔ Incorrect✖✖✖✖✖ (6-5) 

12) One Direction, Four (Columbia, 11/17)

One Direction, Four © Columbia

Prediction: 

One Direction will definitely claim #1 once more, but the question is how much will they sell? 500,000 copies seems quite possible, but there’s also the possibility to surpass or underperform, depending on how their promo singles impact. Still, 500,000 copies seems about right.

Result:

I’m going to say we’ll have and see. Prognostications suggest 400,000 copies+, which would line up with my notion that “500,000 copies seems quite possible, but there’s aso the possibility to surpass or underperform…” Still, I leaned toward 500,000 copies (“Still, 500,000 copies seems about right.). We’ll say that this game is still in the 2nd half and time hasn’t expired yet… STILL IN PROGRESS!

Correct✔✔✔✔✔✔ Incorrect✖✖✖✖✖ (6-5)

Regardless if my One Direction prediction costs me, I’ll be at .500, which in college football is enough to get you bowl eligible… LOL!

Jason Aldean, Old Boots, New Dirt © Broken Bow

4th Quarter Albums Prognostication Scorecard


Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL, PLECTRUMELECTRUM © Warner Bros

In September 2014, I penned a post entitled Prognosticating 4th Quarter Albums!, where I gave my predictions for the sales of some notable albums being released in late September and onward.  Now that seven of those albums have sales figures (one going off of official prognostications), let’s see how sound my predicting skills were!

1) Chris Brown, (RCA, 9/16)

Chris Brown, X © RCA

Prediction:

…Brown might open >100,000 as he did with previous albums, or he might find himself underperforming, selling below 100,000 copies.

Result:

Chris Brown debuted at #2, selling 146,000.  That means that the prediction “Brown might open > 100,000 copies” was right.  Prediction Correct ✔!

Correct: ✔ Incorrect: 0

2) Barbra Streisand, Partners (Columbia, 9/16)

Barbra Streisand, Partners © ColumbiaPrediction

Vocal albums tend to do relatively well, and Streisand has managed to maintain a solid following… Being realistic, Streisand will likely sell below 100,000 copies too.

Result:

Barbra Streisand debuted at #1, selling a surprisingly robust 196,000 copies.  Not only was Streisand’s first week big, so was her second and third weeks, selling 127,000 and 73,000 and keeping her firmly planted in the top 3 of the Billboard 200.  Prediction Dead Wrong! 

Correct: ✔ Incorrect: ✖

3) Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Cheek to Chee(Columbia/ Interscope, etc. 9/23)

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek To Cheek © Streamline/Columbia/Interscope

Prediction:

Cheek to Cheek should easily sell over 100,000 copies, possibly closer to the 200,000+ copies mark Duets reached years ago (NOTEDuets II debuted at #1, but sold 179,000 copies).

Result:

Cheek To Cheek debuted at #1, selling 131,000.  While the “possibly closer to the 200,000+ copies mark” wasn’t close, the album did “easily sell over 100,000 copies.” Prediction Correct ✔!

Correct: ✔✔ Incorrect: ✖

4) Jennifer Hudson, JHUD (RCA, 9/23)

Jennifer Hudson, JHUD © RCAPrediction

…This is an album that should sell greater than 100,000 copies, but likely will not achieve such a feat. Between 60,000 and 80,000 copies seems possible, and that’s elevated compared to most other R&B acts as of late.

Result:

Jennifer Hudson had a much worse week than anticipated; JHUD debuted at #10 selling only 24,000 copies.   I technically stated that  “Between 60,000 and 80,000 copies seems possible, and that’s elevated compared to most other R&B acts as of late,” but I didn’t expect JHUD to perform nearly as poorly as it did.  Prediction Dead Wrong! 

Correct: ✔✔ Incorrect: ✖✖

5) Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE & PLECTRUMELECTRUM (Warner Bros 9/30)

Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE © Warner Bros

Prediction

…One album would likely eclipse the other in sales – it’s happened numerous times historically. Likely, I’d bet more on Art Official Age than PLECTRUMELECTRUM, his album with 3rdEyeGirl. Predicting Prince’s sales are difficult, though his recent crop of albums have exceeded 100,000 copies the first week, with the exception being Planet Earth (#3, 96,000 copies).

Result:

No trap for yours truly here.  One album did eclipse the other one for The Purple One as Art Official Age nearly doubled up PLECTRUMELECTRUM’s sales 51,000 vs 26,000. Prediction Correct ✔!

Correct: ✔✔✔ Incorrect: ✖✖

6) Lady Antebellum, 747 (Capitol Nashville, 9/30)

Lady Antebellum, 747 © Capitol Nashville

Prediction

I expect Lady A will exceed 100,000 copies, but won’t quite match 167,000 copies. If by some chance they do exceed, it won’t be greater than 200,000 copies.

Result

This one was surprising.  While I wasn’t too impressed with Lady Antebellum’s previous album Golden,  I didn’t expect 747 to only sell 74,000 copies.  Prediction Dead Wrong! 

 Correct: ✔✔✔ Incorrect: ✖✖✖

7) Jason Aldean, Old Boots New Dirt (Broken Bow, 10/7)

Jason Aldean, Old Boots New Dirt © Broken Bow

Prediction:

Jason Aldean is a hot commodity as far as country music is concerned…look for Aldean to score another #1 album and robust numbers. 200,000 copies wouldn’t be far-fetched…

Result:

Yeah, I’m jumping the gun on this one, but updated prognostications claim that Aldean is a lock for #1 and the numbers are indeed robust between 270,000 and 290,000.  Yep, I predicted too low, but with the key words being in place, I’m giving myself credit! Prediction Mostly Correct ✔!

 Correct: ✔✔✔✔ Incorrect: ✖✖✖

Final tally:

 Correct 4Incorrect 3 

Barbra Streisand, Partners © Columbia

57th Annual Grammys Scorecard (Take 2…)


Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour  © Capitol

The official cut-off date for eligibility for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards is September 30, 2014. The end of September is filled with albums that are certainly looking to compete for music’s most prestigious awards. That said, there are also notable albums released after last year’s cutoff date that can’t be written off. From my perspective, here are among the best available albums within a number of Grammy categories. 

Green represents some revisions/things added from the previous post as well as potential nominations who have ‘gained’ grown in my opinion. Red marks nominations that may have lost ground, also in my opinion.

Record of the Year

Pharrell Williams, G I R L © Columbia

1) “Happy,” Pharrell Williams

2) “Stay With Me,” Sam Smith

3) “Dark Horse,” Katy Perry featuring Juicy J

4) “Fancy,” Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX 

5) “Problem,” Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea

The record of the year category continues to be a tight race each year. With so many big singles released in 2014, it won’t be a surprise that big pop records could dominate this category. “Happy” has lost some steam after a formidable run, but it still could get honored here given its widespread impact.

No changes here for now.  That said, could “Bang Bang” (Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj) make a late push?  What is missing form this category is a big rock record, which has often been victorious here.  

Album of the Year

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour  © Capitol

1) Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour

2) Beyoncé, Beyoncé 

3) Pharrell Williams, G I R L

4) Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence

5) Jack White, Lazaretto 

Much like last year, finding one dominant album that is a shoe-in for the “W” here isn’t easy. Sam Smith has certainly had a big year, but what about the omitted Frozen soundtrack, which was the bestselling album of the year? Beyoncé is considered a ‘veteran’ artist and the upmost entertainer at this point, and her fifth album was a shock to everyone. These five albums could be frontrunners, but then some obscure album could also sneak into this category.  

While I’ve been high on these five albums throughout 2014, there are some x-factors.  Barbra Streisand’s Partners is an album that could earn a nomination in this category by all means – it’s a duets album with a veteran vocalist who continues to allure vocally.  Katy Perry could knock Lana Del Rey and possibly Jack White out of nomination given the hits that Prism has produced with “Roar” and “Dark Horse” especially.  The Black Keys and are Grammy darlings, and could find themselves nominated, even with Turn Blue falling short of the glory of their previous albums. 

Song of the Year

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour  © Capitol

1) “Stay With Me,” Sam Smith 

2) “All of Me,” John Legend 

3) “Happy,” Pharrell Williams

4) “Let It Go,” Idina Menzel 

5) “Sing,” Ed Sheeran

It won’t be surprising to see Pharrell Williams score a nomination (or nod) here for “Happy.” Also, “Let It Go” seems almost too big to at least honor it with a big-time nomination, if not a victory itself. Then again, should Sam Smith lose to Williams in the record of the year category, doesn’t “Stay With Me” have to win? Throw in the possibly ineligible “All of Me” by John Legend and the previously-nominated Ed Sheeran’s “Sing” and the category is another tightly contested battle. The best, most true song here does belong to Legend, hands down, but Smith stands a strong chance.

Again, a lot depends in this category if “All of Me” is eligible… It’s the best available in regards to being a ‘song’ and not a ‘record.’  

Best New Artist

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour  © Capitol

1) Sam Smith 

2) Iggy Azalea

3) Ariana Grande

4) August Alsina

5) 5 Seconds of Summer 

Another stacked category, it is hard to envision anyone else but Sam Smith wins this one. That said, Grande and Azalea both have compelling arguments. So does August Alsina, but with R&B as underrated as it is of late, his chances become slimmer. Sure, 5 Seconds of Summer are crowd pleasers, but they just might be the Justin Bieber type acknowledgement of this year with little chance to win. 

No change. 

Pop Solo Performance

Pharrell Williams, G I R L © Columbia

1) Pharrell Williams, “Happy”

2) Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”

3) Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”

4) Sia, “Chandelier” 

5) Ed Sheeran, “Sing” 

6) Lana Del Rey, “Ultraviolence” 

Ultimately, “Happy” should probably be nominated in urban categories, but it just might keep others from achieving Grammy glory. Again, it seems that “Stay With Me” will be a huge challenger, not to mention the possibility of a big record like “Wrecking Ball” actually getting some love. Other efforts like “Chandelier,” “Sing,” and “Ultraviolence” should be ignored but have an uphill battle against the top.

No change.  

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Ariana Grande, My Everything © Republic

1) Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj, “Bang Bang” 

2) “RUDE,” Magic!

3) Maroon 5, “Maps”

4) Ariana Grande featuring Zedd, “Break Free” 

5) 5 Seconds of Summer, “She Looks So Perfect”

“Bang Bang” is deserved hands down should it be nominated. “Rude”, should it be nominated was a former #1 hit, in addition to being the best part of the band’s debut album, Don’t Kill The Magic. 

No change. 

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Barbra Streisand, Partners © Columbia

1) Barbra Streisand, Partners

2) Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek

3) ???

Barbra Streisand currently leads the charge in the traditional pop category.  

Best Pop Vocal Album

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour  © Capitol

1) Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour

2) Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence

3) Katy Perry, Prism

4) Ed Sheeran, X

5) Ariana Grande, My Everything

We’ll take Pharrell Williams out of this category. Even so, there are no shortage of scenarios for each of the five albums. Grande, who I have placed in 5th place has a compelling argument herself. That said, ultimately, if the nominations fall the way that I have them, Smith wins, even against Katy Perry who has yet to win a Grammy.

It’s hard to imagine Maroon 5 not scoring a nomination for V, but should Ariana Grande‘s My Everything be ignored, given the hits she’s delivered in 2014? Yours Truly received no nominations, but is 21 years old still too young to get some Grammy-love?  

Best Dance/Electronic Album

1) Lady Gaga, ARTPOP

2) Skrillex, RECESS 

3) Porter Robinson, Worlds

Lady Gaga may pick up another Grammy. Then again, she may not.

Best Rock Performance

Jack White, Lazaretto © Columbia

1) Jack White, “Lazaretto” 

2) The Black Keys, “Turn Blue” 

3) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “American Dream Plan B” 

4) Bruce Springsteen, “Just Like The Fire Would” 

5) Counting Crows, “Paisley Park” 

Jack White had a bad Grammy night when his first album Blunderbuss was nominated (he won nothing), but he might find himself winning Best Rock Performance. Still, a win won’t come easily.

Can Ryan Adams score a nod here for “Gimme Something Good?” 

Best Rock Album

Jack White, Lazaretto © Columbia

1) Jack White, Lazaretto

2) The Black Keys, Turn Blue

3) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Hypnotic Eye

4) Coldplay, Ghost Stories

5) Bruce Springsteen, High Hopes

Jack White may have lost to The Black Keys in this category last go round, but I can’t see him losing to the Keys again. Both albums were solid, but White may have the edge this time. Coldplay may very well receive a nomination, but they’ve done better… just saying!

Best Alternative Music Album

1) Arcade Fire, Reflektor 

2) Beck, Morning Phase

3) St. Vincent, St. Vincent 

4) Spoon, They Want My Soul 

5) The Gaslight Anthem, Get Hurt 

The Alternative Music album category is always tight, and this year is no different. I’m not convinced that The Gaslight Album will even make the cut, but for now they stick in the fifth spot. Beck’s Morning Phase is a fine album that is deserving of this honor, but I don’t put it past last year’s high-flying double album by Arcade Fire (Reflektor) to ultimately go home with the win.

Some may argue that Arcade Fire’s Reflektor is too dance-oriented for this category.  Still, it’s hard to label Arcade Fire as an dance/electronic act, even for one album, against more tried-and-true electro acts.  I still like them as a frontrunner in this category, which they lost to The Black Keys previously (they’d end up winning the album of the year for The Suburbs though). 

I’d like to see a nomination for Lykke Li potentially for I Never Learn, but I’m not confident she gets a nod in the least… If she does, should she fall into the pop category? Furthermore, would Lykke Li really supplant a nod for a more tried-and-true pop act?  

Best R&B Performance

Beyoncé, Beyoncé © Sony

1) Beyoncé, “Partition” 

2) Prince, “BREAKDOWN” 

3) Aloe Blacc, “The Man” 

4) Pharrell Williams, “Marilyn Monroe” 

5) Jhené Aiko, “The Pressure” 

6) Tank, “You’re My Star” 

The top three songs in this category are juggernauts. Likely, Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” will be forgotten after cooling off since its peak, but Beyoncé’s “Partition” will remain fresh. Still, besting “Partition” should be Prince’s “BREAKDOWN,” which just might be the best, most compelling R&B performance of the year.

I’m not sold on the aforementioned songs as there are plenty of worthwhile omissions.  That said, I don’t feel like I even know/understand the R&B categorical nominations as of late.  Still, Ledisi could earn love here (“I Blame You”), Jennifer Hudson (“It’s Your World“), Luke James (“Exit Wounds”), etc.  

Best R&B Song

Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE © Warner Bros

1) “The Breakdown” (Prince) 

2) “Drunk in Love” (Beyoncé)

3) “The Pressure” (Jhené Aiko) 

4) “Marilyn Monroe” (Pharrell Williams) 

5) “Benediction” (August Alsina) 

6) “You’re My Star” (Tank) 

Who likely wins this – probably Beyoncé for “Drunk in Love.” That said, the best song that could potentially be nominated here is Prince’s awesome “The Breakdown.”

No change. 

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Pharrell Williams, G I R L © Columbia

1) Pharrell Williams, G I R L

2) August Alsina, Testimony

3) Trey Songz, Trigga

4) Jhené Aiko, Souled Out

5) Chris Brown, X 

Pharrell Williams stands a great shot if he is nominated in this category. That said, G I R L could be nominated as a pop album, but would face steeper competition, specifically with Sam Smith. Beyoncé plays spoils if her self-titled album is nominated here instead of Best R&B album. 

No change. 

Best R&B Album

Beyoncé, Beyoncé © Sony

1) Beyoncé, Beyoncé

2) Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE

3) Jennifer Hudson, JHUD

4) Toni Braxton & Babyface, Love Marriage & Divorce

5) Michael Jackson, Xscape

5) Kem, Promise To Love 

Predicting the Best R&B Album anymore is almost pointless. You just never know how the vote will sway in recent times. If Beyoncé is nominated in this category, it wins hands down. If not, the door is likely opened. Michael Jackson’s album Xscape has received mixed reactions, so I don’t put much stock into it sticking as a nominee (Michael wasn’t even nominated a couple of years back).  Jennifer Hudson’s JHUD is a terrific album, and even though sales are subpar, this is a category Hudson won in 2008.  Still, bet on Beyoncé or Prince.  

Best Rap Performance

Common, Nobody's Smiling © Def Jam

1) Common featuring Vince Staples, “Kingdom”

2) Nicki Minaj, “Anaconda” 

3) Childish Gambino, “Sweatpants”

4) Rick Ross featuring Jay-Z“Devil Is A Lie” 

5) Jeezy featuring Jay-Z, “Seen It All” 

Honestly, wouldn’t it be nice to see Childish Gambino get recognized for Because The Internet? That said, likely Gambino will have a Kendrick Lamar night and go home empty-handed. Common definitely has a shot. Maybe Nicki Minaj can break her Grammy drought with “Anaconda?”

No change. 

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

Beyoncé, Beyoncé © Sony

1) Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, “Drunk In Love” 

2) Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea, “Problem” 

3) Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX, “Fancy”

4) Iggy Azalea featuring Rita Ora, “Black Widow” 

5) August Alsina featuring Rick Ross, “Benediction”

If this field look liked this, it’s actually sort of tight. That isn’t saying this is the strongest category of Best Rap/Sung collaborations ever, but at least the top three are huge. Still, don’t underestimate the power of the Queen – Beyoncé and her partner in crime Jay-Z that is.

No change. 

Best Rap Song

Iggy Azalea, The New Classic © Virgin EMI Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited

1) “Fancy” (Iggy Azalea) 

2) “Kingdom” (Common)

3) “Me OK” (Jeezy) 

4) “Sweatpants” (Childish Gambino) 

5) “Devil Is A Lie” (Rick Ross) 

There have been stronger rap songs in the past. The strongest song is actually “Kingdom,” but doesn’t Iggy Azalea need to be recognized somewhere or somehow for “Fancy?”

No change. 

Best Rap Album

Common, Nobody's Smiling © Def Jam

1) Common, Nobody’s Smiling

2) Childish Gambino, Because The Internet

3) Jeezy, Seen It All: The Autobiography

4) Iggy Azalea, The New Classic

5) Schoolboy Q, Oxymoron

6) The Roots, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin 

Rap has not been at the strength it’s been in the past. There was no Kendrick Lamar caliber album this year, and that’s no shade to the genre or the artists who released albums this year. If I had to pick out the best rap effort of the year, it would be a closely contested contest between Common and Childish Gambino. Common is the ‘darling’ of the Grammys, so I’d give his underappreciated Nobody’s Smiling the edge. But then we all all Macklemore & Ryan Lewis stun Kendrick Lamar, and Iggy Azalea has definitely had some kind of year… 

No change. 

Best Country Album

Miranda Lambert, Platinum © RCA Records Label Nashville

1) Miranda Lambert, Platinum

2) Eric Church, The Outsiders

3) Tim McGraw, Sundown Heaven Town

4) Brantley Gilbert, Just As I Am

5) Hunter Hayes, Storyline 

Best Country Album is one of those categories in recent times that has yielded some surprises. One is that for as popular and consistent as Taylor Swift has been, she has only one Best Country album once, and that was for album Fearless which also won album of the year. Last year’s winner was Kacey Musgraves. So, call Best country album a crapshoot of sorts. Any of the nominees listed her could win or lose. Miranda Lambert has had previous success, and Platinum was an exceptional album, so I give her the nod at the moment.

No change. 

PHOTO CREDITS: © SONY, © CAPITOL, © COLUMBIA, © REPUBLIC, © WARNER BROS, © DEF JAM, © RCA RECORDS LABEL NASHVILLE
Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE © Warner Bros

Prognosticating 4th Quarter Albums!


Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL, PLECTRUMELECTRUM © Warner Bros

The busiest, most lucrative time of the year has arrived for the music industry – the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter is a big deal because it encompasses the holiday season, and what better than the gift of music, right? The Wire has a fantastic prediction post that everyone should check out that inspired my own post of similar topic.  My list features 14 albums and my personal opinion on how they MIGHT perform on the charts based upon the current climate of the music industry and past sales.  There are plenty of links to past articles discussing how previous efforts performed.  #Leggo!

1) Chris Brown, X (RCA, 9/16)

Chris Brown, X © RCA

Prediction: Brown shouldn’t expect much from X for several reasons. One reason is because albums that have been constantly delayed suffer from a loss of anticipation. Also, there is the notion that because the album has been delayed, the artist didn’t think it was good enough to release and constant revisions had to take place to make it ago. Brown might open >100,000 as he did with previous albums, or he might find himself underperforming, selling below 100,000 copies.  This one is sort of hard to pinpoint for sure, but Fortune only moved 134,000 copies in 2012.  It’s hard to imagine Brown pulling in F.A.M.E. numbers (270,000 copies), let alone Exclusive ones (294,000 copies).

2) Barbra Streisand, Partners (Columbia, 9/16)

Barbra Streisand, Partners © ColumbiaPrediction: Vocal albums tend to do relatively well, and Streisand has managed to maintain a solid following. That said, the star-studded Partners has the propensity to be huge hit (it’s Streisand’s first proper new studio album since 2011 effort What Matters Most), but ‘huge’ has been pretty subdued for most of 2014. Being realistic, Streisand will likely sell below 100,000 copies too.

3) Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek (Columbia/ Interscope, etc. 9/23)

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek To Cheek © Streamline/Columbia/Interscope

Prediction: Remember how the aforementioned blurb stated, “vocal albums tend to do relatively well?” Well, this might be the one that could excel. Bennett’s albums have sold particularly well, namely Duets II, which debuted at #1. Obviously, Gaga has been very successful, though ARTPOP didn’t have the same success of previous albums (258,000 copies sold its first week compared to the 1.1 million Born This Way sold). Still, Cheek to Cheek should easily sell over 100,000 copies, possibly closer to the 200,000+ copies mark Duets reached years ago (NOTEDuets II debuted at #1, but sold 179,000 copies).

4) Jennifer Hudson, JHUD (RCA, 9/23)

Jennifer Hudson, JHUD © RCAPrediction: I love Jennifer Hudson. However, JHUD is lacking in a big-time hit single and her visibility (save for Fashion Rocks) is quite low-key. Because of this, I don’t expect JHUD to perform well in the least. This is an album that should sell greater than 100,000 copies, but likely will not achieve such a feat. Between 60,000 and 80,000 copies seems possible, and that’s elevated compared to most other R&B acts as of late.  Hudson’s last album, I Remember Me, sold 165,000 copies its first week, more than three years ago. Hudson’s self-titled debut sold a more robust 217,000 copies.

5) Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE & PLECTRUMELECTRUM (Warner Bros 9/30)

Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE © Warner Bros

Prediction: Two albums from Prince is like Christmas in late-September for me personally. I’m giddy like a schoolgirl waiting for the Purple One to unleash his quirky, always distinctive new music. That said, one album would likely eclipse the other in sales – it’s happened numerous times historically. Likely, I’d bet more on ART OFFICIAL AGE than PLECTRUMELECTRUM, his album with 3RDEYEGIRL. Predicting Prince’s sales are difficult, though his recent crop of albums have exceeded 100,000 copies the first week, with the exception being Planet Earth (#3, 96,000 copies).

6) Lady Antebellum, 747 (Capitol Nashville, 9/30)

Lady Antebellum, 747 © Capitol Nashville

Prediction: Lady Antebellum won’t be hurting for sales by the time 747 materializes, but it’s hard to imagine the album being ‘huge’ like previous blockbusters Need You Now or Own The Night. 2013 effort Golden debuted at a familiar spot (#1), but sold significantly less than the trio’s more decorated efforts (167,000 copies). I expect Lady A will exceed 100,000 copies, but won’t quite match 167,000 copies. If by some chance they do exceed, it won’t be greater than 200,000 copies.

 

7) Jason Aldean, Old Boots New Dirt (Broken Bow, 10/7)

Jason Aldean, Old Boots New Dirt © Broken Bow

 

Prediction: Jason Aldean is a hot commodity as far as country music is concerned. Sure, Luke Bryan has taken over the reins as of late, but look for Aldean to score another #1 album and robust numbers. 200,000 copies wouldn’t be far-fetched –  Just ask Brantley Gilbert. Aldean moved double that amount with previous album, Night Train, selling 409,000 copies its first week.

 

8) Florida Georgia Line, Anything Goes (Big Machine, 10/14)

Florida Georgia Line, Anything Goes © Big MachinePrediction: After Jason Aldean claims #1 from the previous week, Florida Georgia Line will give country music yet another #1 album. “Cruise” was just too big and FGL will reap the benefits in a big way on Anything Goes. At least 200,000 copies (being conservative), but this will likely be an even more robust album.

 

9) Neil Diamond, Melody Road (Capitol, 10/21)

Neil Diamond, Melody Road © CapitolPrediction: Neil Diamond likely won’t approach the numbers that Aldean or Florida Georgia Line will experience, but Melody Road’s potential sales shouldn’t be underrated. Diamond is still the man even at his age, and usually when he releases a new album, it’s kind of a big deal – selling somewhere in the 100,000 copies ballpark seams quite attainable for Diamond.  Home Before Dark sold 146,000 copies in 2008.

10) Taylor Swift, 1989 (Big Machine, 10/27)

Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine

Prediction: Can Swift possibly score a third album that sells a million copies its first week? Yes, it is quite possible, and it would be ill advised to bet against Swift. That said, can one album sell 1 million copies in 2014 – it’s been a tepid sales year. I hold out the hope that Swift can move a milli, but will prognosticate a bit more conservatively. 500,000 copies minimally, maximally close to the million-mark at 800-950K.

11)  Fighters, Sonic Highways (RCA, 11/10)

11) Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways © RCA

Prediction: Fighters should be in line for another #1, but will likely have to fend off a red-hot Taylor Swift, who will likely cling onto that #1 spot. Still, Foo Fighters might just be settling for a robust #2 bow at worst. Easily should sell 150,000 copies – could reach/surpass the 200,000 copies mark, like Wasting Light did in 2011.

13) Fifth Harmony, Reflection (RCA 11/17)

Fifth Harmony, Reflection © RCA

Prediction: Fifth Harmony have a potential #2 spot locked up because of One Direction.

14) One Direction, Four (Columbia, 11/17)

One Direction, Four © Columbia Prediction: One Direction will definitely claim #1 once more, but the question is how much will they sell? 500,000 copies seems quite possible, but there’s also the possibility to surpass or underperform, depending on how their promo singles impact. Still, 500,000 copies seems about right.

 

 

 

Nicki Minaj, Anaconda © Cash Money

8 Artists: Buy or Sell?


Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE © Warner Bros

Musicians in particular are known for their respective personalities, controversies, and of course how successful they are or aren’t commercially. Assembling a list of eight big names who have all yielded tremendous success not absent of some sort of controversy or pushback, this post seeks to make a judgement about the state of each artist’s career. If the career is flourishing on most/all cylinders, then this dude is buying. But if things are only so-so or the hole seems too deep for the respective artists to dig themselves out, well then “sell baby, SELL!”

1) Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber, Believe © Island

Using the year’s most popular soundtrack song, “Let it go, let it go!” In other words, SELL BABY, SELL! Bieber’s once hot stock has plummeted into something awful following his poor, irresponsible behavior. To put it frankly, his attitude sucks. Whether Bieber realizes it or not, he’s screwed up a career numerous others would’ve loved to have had by tarnishing his once squeaky clean reputation.

2) Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj, Anaconda © Cash Money

BUY! Yes, Minaj is crazy as a loon, but she definitely keeps things ‘interesting.’ “Anaconda” is a raunchy as it comes, and that’s saying/accomplishing something following “Beez in the Trap.” Minaj just might make Missy Elliott blush; she certainly makes “Work It” seem tame comparatively. Bananas, coconuts, whipped cream, legs and of course assets.

3) Chris Brown

Chris Brown, X © RCAThis one’s easy – SELL. Who cares if Brown is releasing his long awaited X September 16? Well, maybe we care, but not to the degree of his work of the past. Brown has lost his artistic luster. All the bad behavior and arrogance have compromised the singer’s music. Yes, he can still sing his face off, but the personality, much like Bieber sucks. The image is horrid. SELL, SELL, SELL! 

4) Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big MachineBUY of course – did you really think it would be anything other than, buy? Yes, Swift has her share of flaws, but it’s hard to vote against her. “Shake It Off” marks a new ‘look’ for Swift and so far, it’s highly effective.

5) Lady Gaga

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek To Cheek © Streamline/Columbia/Interscope THE JURY’S STILL OUT… Gaga is at a crossroads within her career. ARTPOP was that album that was ‘less successful’ and lacked the staying power of her previous juggernauts. On the other hand, Gaga has already shown a collaborative album with Tony Bennett isn’t far-fetched, killing it on duet “The Lady Is A Trap” from Bennett’s Duets II. 

6) Usher

Usher, She Came To Give It To You © RCAThis one sort of hurts, particularly being an Usher fan… SELL. This outing, Mr. Raymond seems a couple of steps behind. I still believe in him and can’t wait for a new album, but it seems that some of the swag has fallen by the wayside.

7) Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus, BANGERZ © RCA

SELL! Over it with Miley! Everybody else should be over the mess at this point too. Nothing more to say – ‘nuff said! 

8) Prince

Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL, PLECTRUMELECTRUM © Warner Bros

BUY… Yes literally, buy Prince’s upcoming albums ART OFFICIAL AGE and
RUMELECTRUM. Prince’s last album was a bit underwhelming and nothing has been on the level of Musicology (2004) or 3121 (2006). That said, it seems this go around, Prince is on that comeback sh… “shut yo mouth!”

Photo Credits: © Cash Money, © Warner Bros, © Island, ©RCA, © Streamline/Columbia/Interscope, © Big Machine
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek To Cheek © Streamline/Interscope/Columbia

Looking Ahead to September: 10 Most Anticipated Albums


Your face when your like wow that wasn't the best intro ….

A photo posted by Jennifer Hudson (@iamjhud) on

August is nearly done – thank goodness? Why ‘thank goodness’ you ask – well because the release weeks at times left much to be desired.   September 2014 is definitely promising with a number of new releases. After examining a whole list via amazon.com, here are my 10 most Anticipated albums for September 2014!

 

1) Maroon 5, V (Interscope) September 2

81wKk1GFETL._SL1500_ I haven’t exactly ‘hearted’ Maroon 5 as much as once did – Overexposed was my least favorite album – but who can resist Adam Levine’s vocals seriously? “Maps” is no “This Love,” but let’s keep our fingers crossed V is truly special.

 

2) Lecrae, Anomaly (Reach Records) September 9

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The Christian rap thing isn’t necessarily my lane (being honest), but I am a fan of Lecrae by all means.

 

3) Jhené Aiko, Souled Out (Def Jam) September 9

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Usually, this guy prefers powerhouse vocals, but Jhené Aiko definitely provides an interesting antithetical approach. Her coolness works, or at least it did on Sail Out EP.

 

4) Barbra Streisand, Partners (Columbia) September 16

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It’s Barbra Streisand – there really is nothing else to say. The legendary vocalist has a fantastic voice STILL at 72 years old.

 

5) Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek (Columbia/ Interscope), September 23

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Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga really recorded an album? Amazing. Judging by the track list, it’s definitely in Tony Bennett’s lane, but who wouldn’t want to record with a legend? Plus, after ARTPOP was more lukewarmly received, Gaga likely needs to plan her next career/album move.

 

6) Tweedy, Sukierae (ANTI), September 23

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The Wilco front man is releasing this highly anticipated solo album. Jeff Tweedy is one of the most versatile musicians of the times, and Sukierae should prove to be exceptional.

 

7) Jennifer Hudson, JHUD (RCA), September 23

817gCL7+rxL._SL1500_ My girl Jennifer Hudson is back with her long-awaited third album, JHUD. “Walk It Out” definitely satisfied me, even if it was more gimmicky than Hudson’s past work, but it wasn’t exactly a radio staple. Hopefully, Hudson really tries to promote this album. R&B has been suffering for sales.

 

8) Lenny Kravitz, Strut (Kobalt), September 23

51t1+3OitCL It’s a shame more people aren’t on the Lenny Kravitz bandwagon – he’s a truly awesome musician. Regardless is no one else indulges, this guy will be there to buy.

 

9) Weezer, Everything Will Be Alright in The End (Universal Republic), September 30

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Weezer’s last album Hurley wasn’t my favorite, but that doesn’t dissuade me from being excited about a new album from the aging hipsters.

 

10) Gerard Way, Hesistant Alien (Reprise), September 30

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My Chemical Romance is no more, but Gerard Way is still in the house. As Fantasia sang, “It ain’t all bad.”

 

Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon- The End of Day © Motown

Ranking Kid Cudi’s Albums From 2009 – 2014


 "Gangster Squad" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals Grauman's Chinese Theatre Hollywood, CA, USA 01/07/2013 © Andrew Evans / PR Photos

Kid Cudi is one of the most unique artists of recent times.  He’s classified as a rapper, but he’s definitely from the left-field breed.  Ultimately, Scott Mescudi is incredibly eclectic, and for hardcore fans, they wouldn’t have the artist without his eclectic spirit.

Over the course of five years, the Kid has managed to release four studio albums (a fifth as part of WZRD).  All four are quite captivating in their own way but let’s face it – they can always be ranked by level of importance, quality, and creativity.  Coincidently, personally, I rank Cudi’s four albums in the order they were released.

4) Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon (2014)

Kid Cudi, Satellite Flight- The Journey to Mother Moon © RepublicFollowing the new ‘shock value’ trend of releasing albums, Kid Cudi joined the bandwagon by surprising everyone with his fourth album, Satellite Flight.  Compared to his previous efforts, Satellite Flight might be the rapper’s oddest effort yet.  Of its ten tracks, four are instrumental, or 40% of the album.  To be a ‘hip-hop’ album, that is definitely a healthy portion.

The standouts, such as “Going To The Ceremony” or title track “Satellite Flight” are reminiscent of Cudi’s work on Indicud from the previous year.  Ultimately a solid effort despite feeling more ‘mixtape’ than studio LP, Satellite Flight is the rapper’s fourth best album, but contextually, it is still a worthwhile listen, particularly for hardcore fans.

3) Indicud (2013) 

Kid Cudi, Indicud © Republic

Indicud was much more anticipated than Satellite Flight; it had been three years since Cudi’s sophomore album bowed.  Indicud featured more production from Kid Cudi himself, something that some were indifferent to.  Overall, Indicud was a shade less enthralling than Man On The Moon II was, but not too far off base.

Tracks like the confident “Unf**kwittable”, The Kendrick Lamar assisted “Solo Dolo, Pt. 2”, and “Girls” were bright spots.  The Father John Misty sampling “Young Lady” was interesting as well, not to mention “Just As I Am” and “Beez”.  At 71 minutes though, Kid Cudi was perhaps a bit too profound.  Still, there were plenty of highlights. 

2) Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010)

Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr Rager © Universal MotownMan On The Moon II was a solid continuation of the excellence of Cudi’s debut, Man On The Moon: End of Day.  Like Indicud is to Man on the Moon II, Man on the Moon II is a hair less notable than Cudi’s debut album.  That said there is plenty of ‘meat’ for one to sink their teeth into. “REVOFEV” is incredibly bright and unique, while the Mary J. Blige assisted “Don’t Play This Song” is incredibly emotional and honest (“Wanna know what it sound like when I’m not on drugs / Please, please don’t play this song”).

Then there’s a whole joint (no pun intended) dedicated to Mary Jane entitled “Marijuana” (“Pretty green bud all in my blunt, oh I need it”), the cocky and confident “Mojo So Dope” and of course the infectious, cleverly titled  “Ashin’ Kusher”.  Ultimately, Man on the Moon II is stacked with plenty of songs that open the door to deep analysis and personal revelations into Scott Mescudi.

1) Man On The Moon: End of Day (2009)

Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon: The End of Day © Motown

When I first heard Man On The Moon: End of Day, I considered it to be one of the oddest albums I’d ever heard.  Even so, it was brilliantly odd.  Rather than getting your standard rap effort, Man on the Moon: End of Day was conceptual and completely left of center.  It wasn’t an album for everybody, particularly if your idea of hip-hop is what pops in the club, but I considered it one of the more notable albums of the past decade.

Day ‘N’ Night” would be the breakthrough Kid Cudi would need to get commercial footing, even if the track was by far extraterrestrial.  Still it would peak at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.  “Make Her Say” would give Kid Cudi another hit, pairing him with Common and Kanye West, not to mention an incredibly-timely (in 2009) Lady Gaga sample (“Poker Face”).

The Pursuit of Happiness” brought some positivity despite dissatisfaction, led by it’s irresistible hook: “I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know / everything that shines ain’t always gonna be gold / hey, I’ll be fine once I get it, I’ll be good.” 

The list of standouts could go on and on; Man on The Moon was just that good.  No matter how consistent successive albums have been by Cudi, his first is truly his masterwork.  All hail King Wzrd’s best.

Photo Credits: © Universal Motown, © Andrew Evans / PR Photos, © republic, © Motown, © universal motown