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The 2013 Fourth Quarter Music Releases Underwhelm…

Brent Faulkner Brent Faulkner
November 15th, 2013 11:50am EST

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John Legend-20130621-532013 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.

51C5yP6ZOqL._SL500_AA280_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.

Celine Dion-AES-096439On 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.

81LFx7SM8AL._SL1400_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 SpearsBritney 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.

41E34dng69L._SL500_AA280_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.

 


Filed under: Alternative, Country, Electronic, Hip-Hop/Rap, Holiday, Music, New Music, Opinion, Pop, Pop Culture, R&B/Soul, Rock, Soundtrack, Urban, Vocal/Easy Listening Tagged: album sales, Avril Lavigne, blockbuster releases, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Duck Dynasty, eminem, fourth quarter music releases, holiday albums, Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige, Susan Boyle, underwhelming album sales