Hits Sales Chart-Week Ending 11/26/07

1. Josh Groban "Noel"

Sales this week: 405,375
Percentage change: +77%

Jew sings Christmas carols. Wonder what Mel Gibson would say about that?

Did I miss something, or did Josh Groban actually have a hit?

He may sing old fogey music, but young Josh is positively new school. It’s about HIM, not the songs. ANYTHING he sings is gonna sell. Build the act, not the song. Otherwise you end up with Soulja Boy, who Jermaine Dupri so eloquently told us sold 4,000,000 singles and only 300,000 albums. If it’s about the single, you’re fucked. Because singles don’t have the penetration they used to. You’re preaching to those who only WANT the single. You want album buyers. Not because they want a collection, but because they want EVERYTHING! Release quality material. Play to your fans. Then watch your sales grow.

2. Alicia Keys "As I Am"

Sales this week: 336,298
Percentage change: -53%

I thought the writers strike appearance was a cheap stunt, but I’m willing to say that Clive Davis and his team did excellent set-up here. Clive told the press that Alicia was a twenty first century diva, a star without all the negative ego trappings, and they BOUGHT IT!

I like Alicia. I just wish her material were more memorable. That it was more about the core than the penumbra. That I could remember more than "Fallin’", which is really a James Brown song…

3. NOW 26

Sales this week: 232,993
Percentage change: +14%

Is anybody gonna want ’em when they’re THEN?

I don’t think so…

4. Eagles "Long Road Out Of Eden"

Sales this week: 216,323
Percentage change: +11%

Tell me why you need a record company again? To get on "60 Minutes"? Well, Irving and Larry managed to do this sans hundreds of employees.

Radio isn’t playing much of the Eagles’ new material. Best to go where they are, TV! Hell, license every one of these songs. First to pay cable, then network TV. From HBO to NBC! Hell, the order is irrelevant. If they’re going to do a deal with Wal-Mart, and nobody but fans is listening, why not go where the people are? Maybe commission a TV movie of the title track.

I’m against this shit, but the Eagles album is going to die a quick death, be a momentary event, unless stuff like this is done. To turn tracks into classics, they must be associated with something.

Fuck the movies. They take too long to come to the screen and you never know if they’re going to be good. And not many people see them either. Go straight to television, where the EYES AND EARS ARE!

Time to shift the paradigm once again, Irving. Moby was nobody when he licensed all his tracks. The Eagles are somebody, doors will open because of their name/history and the incredible sales numbers of this project. Seize the opportunity NOW!

As for the "60 Minutes" piece… Worthless except for the harmonies and the way Henley looked to the ceiling when Glenn was talking. Why does TV have to be so dumbed down? Why does "60 Minutes" have to assume that NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT THE EAGLES? They own the biggest selling album of all time. Someone bought it. Chances are the same people watching this show. Couldn’t you ask some tough questions? Couldn’t we learn anything? We used to rely on "Rolling Stone" for this. But that was back before it cared more about automobile and tobacco companies than music.

5. "High School Musical 2"

Sales this week: 190,378
Percentage change: +141%

They probably ran it on the Disney Channel this weekend, when the kids were home from school. Or maybe the brand name has filtered down to the parents, who were buying gifts for Christmas. But if you don’t know that "High School Musical" has jumped the shark, you probably don’t know the episode of "Happy Days" that generated this cliche.

6. Garth Brooks "Ultimate Hits"

Sales this week: 188,284
Percentage change: -6%

Is he retired or not? Now he’s playing STAPLES?

This so-called hillbilly got his masters back. And now he’s milking them, at a discount price. Kudos! Garth may be rich, but he’s positively down home with his fans. He knows what all the majors don’t. You’ve got to RESPECT YOUR AUDIENCE! The music is cheap, the tickets are cheap… How come he gets it, and he’s twenty years on, and the new acts are playing by bullshit rip-off rules?

As for being a hillbilly… Garth is just as good a businessman as his hero Gene Simmons. BETTER! Because Garth has kept his credibility. As for the live performance… I don’t care if you think he’s shite, go see him and you’ll be converted. It’s intimacy, sincerity and bluster all in one. It’s positively ELECTRIC!

9. Jordin Sparks

Sales this week: 121,351

"American Idol" has peaked. As far as selling records, anyway.

And this is kind of a shit number for what is perceived as an album containing a killer track. Yup, give the label credit, they paired this charisma-challenged teenager with a great song. But unless they keep finding great songs, people will care less than they do about Clay Aiken.

TV ratings may not dip significantly. After all, it is the winter. And it is human drama. But continuing to make stars? Check the grosses on the tour. They verged on horrific.

10. Keith Urban "Greatest Hits"

Sales this week: 117,315

It’s getting increasingly hard to sell greatest hits albums, next year it’s going to be close to impossible. People will just cherry-pick what they want online. So, it was now or never.

As for the album itself…

Whenever Keith comes up on my iPod, I smile. Start here, the magic tracks are on this album.

"Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me" is an album opener akin to those beginning Stones records. It takes off and flies. It may be country, but it’s more rock and roll than the Stones have cut in eons, even though it is parked at number 13 on this album.

Some people love Radney Foster’s take on "Raining On Sunday" better. Nobody sings a song like its writer. But for a newbie country fan like myself, the cover works.

"You’ll Think Of Me"… God, listen to the lyrics.

And you know I love "Stupid Boy".

Forget the hair. Forget the rehab. Forget the famous wife. Forget he’s country. Listen to these songs. If only James Taylor was doing work this good today.

13. Jay-Z "American Gangster"

Sales this week: 88,845
Percentage change: -25%

Okay, according to SoundScan, Alicia Keys’ album sold 742,426 in its debut week. Of this, 60,900 were digital. That’s essentially 10%. Furthermore, the single, "No One", sold 205,533 copies last week, the equivalent of another 20,000 albums. But that single has been on the chart for 10 weeks. All told, it’s sold 860,707 copies. The equivalent of 80,000 more albums. Eager to leave that money on the table?

Chris Brown sold 121,730 copies of his album "Exclusive" this week, its first on the chart. But as of LAST week, he’d sold 749,404 copies of the single "Kiss Kiss" in five weeks online, the equivalent of almost 75,000 albums.

One must ask. Should Jay-Z have sold a track prior to the release of "American Gangster"? To fulfill demand? To help spread the word?

Led Zeppelin sold 136,638 copies of the "Mothership" album last week. Of these, 33,456 were online! That’s just shy of twenty five percent. And, the tracks were available as singles! They’re all over the singles chart, but the biggest seller is "Stairway To Heaven", at number 33 (Zeppelin was number two on the digital album chart), with 24,697 sold. I’d say that the singles buyers were not fans of Zeppelin, at least not yet. But maybe "Stairway To Heaven" will addict them! Is it any wonder that the quintessential album act generates primarily album sales?

I don’t think the availability of singles would cannibalize Jay-Z album sales on iTunes. He’s got diehard fans. The trick is indoctrinating the newbies.

But there’s something else going on. Jay-Z’s album is not burning up the BigChampagne P2P chart either. The title track is number 31. The only other cut in the top fifty is "I Know".

"American Gangster" got good reviews. But somehow, its magic is eluding the audience. This is a marketing issue. Jay-Z may have made a stand for his main man Doug Morris, but so far Steve Jobs hasn’t backed down and Jay-Z’s decision seems to be hurting his project. The goal of an artist is to have as many people as possible exposed to his music. I’d be stunned if Jay-Z weren’t frustrated about now.

In today’s marketplace, it’s hard to rise above the clutter. Even superstars have trouble.

21. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss "Raising Sand"

Sales this week: 61,504
Percentage change: +19%

This album has amazing legs. It wouldn’t have sold any better on a major. These are stars, their fans are interested. Rounder is doing a fantastic job.

More interesting, it appears that fans are interested in risks, in limit-testing, they don’t want just what came before, they want something NEW!

25. James Taylor "One Man Band"

Sales this week: 58,486
Percentage change: -2%

Can we all agree that Starbucks’ magic has worn off?

I hope JT got paid well, because he’s not selling any more than he would on a major label.

He’s presently without a manager. Gary Borman did a great job with the one way Christmas album with Hallmark. He did an Irving before Irving. Speaking of which, make a deal with Irving or go back to Gary, you can’t manage yourself.

40. Britney Spears "Blackout"

Sales this week: 37,642
Percentage change: -26%

Trust your gut, not the press. You saw her on the VMAs, you see her every day on TMZ.com. Despite the debut numbers, you knew the album couldn’t last. The debut means almost NOTHING! It’s the staying power that counts.

48. Killers "Sawdust"

Sales this week: 28,438
Percentage change: -64%

Shit, I know it’s b-sides and rarities, but you’d expect them to sell more than THIS!

Guess they aren’t stars. Guess their momentum was halted with "Sam’s Town". But that’s what hits will do to you, make everything you do afterward look like part of a downward spiral.

50. Bruce Springsteen "Magic"

Sales this week: 27,497
Percentage change: -12%

I haven’t played it. I was so disappointed by "Radio Nowhere", that I don’t want my illusions shattered any further.

But what’s amazing is, it’s like the album never came out. Unless you bought it and went to the show, you’re not impacted. There’s no radio, no TV, not even a ton of press. This is the twenty first century, everything is niche.

Still, Brendan O’Brien is a bad fit for Bruce. Dark and dense worked well with "Born To Run", when everything that came out of the dashboard speakers sounded muddy. But now Bruce needs some clarity, some warmth.

I’d like to see a return to the early days. A ton of words. More exuberance in the inflection.

I LOVED the title track of "Human Touch". "Streets Of Philadelphia" was sheer magic. The O’Brien albums sound too much like they were made in bars. It’s rock and roll, but I don’t love it. Bruce needs to think less and just let the words and music flow. Tap his id, get rid of the filter. Stop thinking and just FEEL!

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