Last Week’s Sales

1. Rod Stewart "Still the Same…Great Rock Classics Of Our Time"

Okay, which way do you want to have it?  Old credible rocker means nothing anymore and you no longer care or Clive Davis resurrects the career of a fading star?

Let’s start with the latter.

Rod Stewart’s credibility problems started with his huge hit disco single "Da Ya Think I’m Sexy".  Personally, I liked it, it was a good record, and a deserved hit.  But those not diehard Stewart fans felt he’d crossed the line, with not only the song but the outfits and the album title "Blondes Have More Fun".  Rod seemed to be going girl whereas there’d always been a strong dose of testosterone in his music.

Stunningly, the Stones survived their disco romp, "Miss You", but it was a bit earlier, before disco had such a bad name.  And the album that contained the track was better.  And they went back to their rock roots.

Whereas Stewart just seemed to go off in a direction none of us could understand, featuring little boys in MTV videos, we wanted nothing to do with him.  And soon no one else did either.  Now the main audience for Rod was CASUAL fans, and casual fans move on after you no longer have hits.

Without the despicable "American Songbook" CDs this album would have sold maybe 20,000 copies in its initial week and then gone straight to the dumper.  But Clive Davis worked his magic.  He brought Rod back from the dead.  Making a deal with the devil, Rod sacrificed all credibility, and got hits in return.  Rod got to make money.  I’m not sure you can call those records music.

Turns out that Clive Davis knows more about the music business than most of his younger cronies.  He knows it’s about selling records.  Clive imposed a formula on Rod the same way he imposed formulas on Whitney and Barry Manilow.  An audience was targeted, money was made.  Meaningful?  MEANINGLESS!

And there we have the conundrum.  The hipster baby boomers remember when music MEANT something.  They’re appalled by not only the "Songbook" CDs, but what Rod Stewart has become.  But their less hip brethren are soaking this stuff up.  Because they’re clueless.  They’ve lost touch.  There’s no center.  They want new music and ALL they know are brand names.

Expect this to sell just about as many copies as a "Songbook" album.  In the neighborhood of gold.

Released in the fourth quarter, this is all about gift-giving/merriment.  It’s NOT about music.  Clive Davis saw an audience and delivered for it.

In the old days, a move like this would have eviscerated Rod’s credibility.  But now he’s got no credibility, he’s got a career.  They’re no longer one and the same.

4. Jimmy Buffett "Take The Weather With You"

Jimmy Buffett hasn’t written a decent song in more than a quarter of a century.  He used to be the troubadour of the south, now he’s just Captain Trips for a generation that likes to get high on the weekend.

Yes, the Dead’s peak was in the sixties and early seventies, and Jimmy’s peak was in the seventies and early eighties.

Jimmy’s written some GREAT songs.  Like "A Pirate Looks At Forty".  And even some good stupid ones like "Margaritaville" and "Cheeseburger In Paradise".  And some uncharacteristically beautiful ones like "Come Monday".  But those were all when he was still hungry, when he still needed to MAKE IT!

And having made it, Jimmy’s been coasting ever since.

Oh, believe me, his sellout audiences know his hits/great tunes.  They’re the highlight of the show.  And, he puts on SUCH a good show, that some people rush out and buy each new album, Jimmy being their patron saint, but they don’t purchase these discs planning to listen to them again and again.  You’ll be stunned how uncatchy and second-rate they are.  How private plane Jimmy just can’t release his inner pain any longer.

7. Justin Timberlake "Future Sex/LoveSounds"
Sales this week: 91,969
Cume: 1,269,031

It’s a HIT!

And the transformation of Justin into an African-American is almost complete.  Expect him to dye his skin or use makeup like C. Thomas Howell in "Soul Man" soon.

I guess it’s a triumph, that blacks rule contemporary music.  But I don’t believe blacks should try to be white or vice versa.  I mean now Justin even has a CLOTHING LINE, just like Diddy and the rappers.  Then again, Diddy is SMARTER than Justin, at least he uses his OWN NAME!

Music is a springboard to enterprise.  Everybody’s a conglomerate.  Everybody is building their empire.  The tunes are just a tiny part of the whole picture.

Nobody truly believes Justin is musically talented.

Strike that.  TOO MANY people believe Justin is talented.

And those who purchased Rod Stewart albums this week don’t get it, and therefore tune Justin and his minions out.  While Justin’s fans want nothing to do with oldster crap like Rod Stewart.

And true fans of music look at the hit parade, scratch their heads and ask WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED HERE?

17. Fergie "Dutchess"
Sales this week: 44,207
Cume: 332,585

I’m calling this a disappointment.  Really, with all the hype, the stature of the Peas, this should be doing better.

Maybe if they put the album on sale WHEN "London Bridge" was a hit they would have done better.  They wouldn’t have had a boffo first week, but the CUME would have been greater.

Suddenly albums are not music with a shelf life, but products to be sold in brief windows.  Does anybody remember first week sales for "Dark Side Of The Moon"?  Or "Appetite For Destruction"?  Or even "Jagged Little Pill", from the SoundScan era?  No.  It’s about putting out something great, that people will want forever.  Not about creating hubbub and selling something for a minute, like hula-hoops.

Furthermore, as traction was gained, youngsters AND oldsters purchased "Jagged Little Pill".  Believe me, no musos are gonna end up buying "Dutchess" OR "Future Sex/Love Sounds".

21. Bob Seger "Face The Promise"
Sales this week: 37,681
Cume: 353,221

Paul Simon, Tom Petty and Neil Young get all the ink, but it’s Seger who still gets the thunder.

Turns out people still believe that Seger will deliver that old time rock and roll.  Whereas they don’t believe they’ll be interested in what the foregoing release, they’ve been burned too many times.

These are good sales under the circumstances.  But if anybody was calling out for a Wal-Mart connection/promotion it’s Seger.  His audience IS Wal-Mart.  But Capitol has a distribution division, and retail partners, and feels it must play by the old rules.

This should have been a Wal-Mart exclusive.  Capitol should have made a deal with the devil.  There would have been more publicity driving more people to the store.

Does a Starbucks deal mean anything anymore?

Not much.  That paradigm is history.  Sure, you can sell some product along with lattes at the register, but the average customer no longer believes what’s purveyed at the coffee emporium is cool.  Starbucks lost its audience’s trust, by endorsing too much product.

But Wal-Mart???  It’s just beginning.  With Garth and now the Eagles.  But soon, an exclusive Wal-Mart deal won’t mean much.  The press will cover it about as much as a space mission, which AIN’T MUCH!

22. Rascal Flatts "Me And My Gang"
Sales this week: 35,346
Cume: 2,601,324

Mmm…Justin?  Can you see that melody outsells beats?

27. Snow Patrol "Eyes Open"
Sales this week: 27,482
Cume: 440,544

Does the average person know who Snow Patrol is?

This is positively old wave.  This is selling based on the music.  And it’s expanding from the core.  Whereas most acts HAVE no core.  It’s about penetration from the outside in, and there’s a very brief sales history.

This record has been on the chart for 23 weeks.  The only longer livers above it on the chart are:

Hinder.  A debut, which inherently builds.  (36 weeks.)

Nickelback.  (54 weeks.)

Fray.  Also a debut.  (40 weeks.)

The aforementioned Rascal Flatts (28 weeks.)

"American Idol" star Carrie Underwood (48 weeks.)

Going DOWN the chart, the only other act that has exceeded Snow Patrol’s longevity on the chart is Josh Turner, whose "Your Man" has sold 1,143,338 copies in 38 weeks.  Isn’t it funny that he too isn’t a household name!

29. Bob Dylan "Modern Times"
Sales this week: 27,034
Cume: 585,265

The juggernaut continues!

Don’t you get it?  With Bob and Rod entering the chart at number one?  It’s NOT about the airplay!  It’s the OPPOSITE of conventional wisdom.

Baby boomers are inured to buying music.  But they barely hear new music.  But they read.  And watch TV.  Dylan’s iTunes commercial and print drove sales, and the reviews of his tour, in venues larger than he’s played in a long time, are driving FURTHER sales.

32. Clay Aiken "Thousand Different Ways"
Sales this week: 25,033
Cume: 350,016

It’s not the sexual preference issue.  It’s the absence from the marketplace.  An "American Idol" act should have a minimum of two albums a year, hell, THREE would be preferable.  It’s not about the music, but the HYSTERIA!  Capitalize on this.  There IS no career, not when it comes to record sales.  Sure, live somebody somewhere wants to see a once upon a time star, but they don’t want to buy a record, otherwise all the baby boomer acts like Styx still touring would top the chart!

37. Sting "Songs From The Labyrinth"
Sales this week: 23,518

Why does he get to make this album?  Why should we care?

Oh right, he’s STING!

Sure, he’s pompous.  But he’s also talented.

But not so talented that we’re interested in something like this.

Sting is the ultimate Starbucks artist.  Sting should look for a credible upper demo haunt to sell his CDs.  Then again, it would help if he made a good, mainstream one.

44. Blue October "Foiled"
Sales this week: 18,817
Cume: 586,428

Come on, admit it.  You know the name, but you’re not quite sure what the music sounds like…

Well, they debuted in ’98.  And this record has been on the chart for 28 weeks.

You might not be able to afford a NetJet share on the proceeds, but this is positively old wave, this is the way the business used to be.  And then one of THESE relatively unknown acts would break through on their fourth or fifth record.  Can you say FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE!

Hell, if he hadn’t had four solo albums previously, Frampton would have had NO MATERIAL TO COME ALIVE!

47. Decemberists "Crane Wife"
Sales this week: 17,859
Cume: 44,192

Did they really have to go to a major label?

Decemberists had a core.  Which was growing.  I hope they got a really big check from Capitol, because it doesn’t seem like they’re going to sell a hell of a lot more records.

Looks like they should have kept their indie cred.  And proceeds.

56. Jet "Shine On"
Sales this week: 15,546
Cume: 66,709

Insiders will say the review killed this album.  Hell, ALL the reviews were bad.

But it doesn’t matter.  Because it turns out Jet has no fans.  None in any quantity.  Today’s kids, who purchased the debut, don’t BELIEVE in the band, only the music.  Certainly when the act has a hit.  You think you’ve established an act, but you’ve got NOTHING!  You’re starting all over again with each and every record.

59. Jerry Lee Lewis "Last Man Standing"
Sales this week: 14,691
Cume: 70,615

Calling Jann Wenner.

Hey Jann.  Don’t you remember when "Rolling Stone" published that expose, how the Killer really killed?  Why no mention of that in the hype about this album in a recent issue?

That old article made me swear off the Killer forever.  And based on these sales, it appears many others have too.

Maybe Steve Bing needs less money.  So he’ll care more about the success of his projects.  Picking them more wisely, and caring more about credibility/his legacy.

Irrelevant of the aforementioned expose, this record is irrelevant.  I played it.  Jerry Lee covers one of my favorite songs, the Band’s "Twilight".  He kills it all right.  BLECCH!

75. Robert Randolph & the Family Band
Sales this week: 12,195

And this guy is on a major label WHY?

83. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus "Don’t You Fake It"
Sales this week: 11,269
Cume: 180,580

Over thirteen weeks.  Mmm…  Pretty impressive.  Do you have ANY idea what they sound like?

Positively old school sales story.  That’s A LOT of records for a debut.

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