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Call It A Flop: Mariah Carey's Latest LP Debuts Unimpressively

Brent Faulkner Brent Faulkner
June 5th, 2014 10:23am EDT
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Me. I Am Mariah

I’ve been saying it all along, and as much as I hate being wrong, I hoped I’d be wrong this time. Unfortunately (or “just like I told y’all”), I was correct about Mariah Carey’s forthcoming LP Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse being a flop. The album itself is no flop, which was something of a surprise in itself. Sure it is flawed, but Me also shows some superb MC moments as well. However, the numbers don’t lie, particularly first week numbers for an album with no hit single to rely upon. Me only managed to sell 58,000 copies. Not only is that below prognostications (60,000 – 65,000), but it gives Carey a reverse career milestone… her lowest, most tepid sales number.

While there are exceptions, the amount of copies that an album sells in within its first week is “kind of a big deal”. Why – because those numbers sort of establish the ceiling for the album. Typically, anything below 100,000 copies is likely not going to stay hot very long commercially. Although August Alsina had a respectable first week with a no. 2 debut and 67,000 copies sold, the ceiling for Alsina after percentage drops in sales each week seems small. A larger first week sum usually gives the album itself a higher ceiling. Take Coldplay’s Ghost Stories; it spent its first week at no. 1 selling 383,000 copies and this week sells another 83,000 copies. If nothing more, Ghost Stories is already sitting at gold certification from the RIAA. As for Carey, 58,000 copies doesn’t seem at all promising. With only a potential 50% drop in sales, Carey would only sell 29,000 copies. Why didn’t Me sell – Here are some reasons why Mimi might have struggled.

Album Release Delays/Hiatus 

There’s an unwritten cardinal rule somewhere: you can’t delay an album and expect it to sell. Even if you are Mariah Carey, the name along won’t sell and album that has been delayed so many times. The proof is in the pudding… or the sales numbers rather.   Another point worth noting is that a lengthy hiatus, particularly for an older artist, can definitely hurt the market for that artist, no matter their veteran status.

Tepid Promotion

The promotional campaign for Me leaves plenty to be desired. One gargantuan problem is the lack of a currently successful single. When “#Beautiful” was hot (or at least lukewarm), Mariah Carey should’ve jumped on that and dropped this album. That’s not to say she needed to rush and release crap, but it is to say that she should’ve been mindful of the “drop it when it’s hot”rule. Instead, more and more singles came with none latching or causing excitement. Even Kanye West knows that the lack of a big single can hurt sales – ask him about Yeezus. With nothing to offer the listener, can you really expect the album to sell, particularly these days? (The answer is no).

Expensive Pricing

For a comeback album, Def Jam certainly wanted a pretty penny for any version of Me, which was released in standard and deluxe editions. The problem with being pricey, even given the amount of tracks on the album, is that people don’t want to make the investment. Sure $13 – $20 isn’t the end all be all, but for a CD that you know little about and without consistent airplay, paying that much is deal breaker.

More people might’ve purchased Me if it were just a bit cheaper…

Age

…And then again, maybe people wouldn’t have purchased it if it were more reasonably priced. Why? Mariah Carey is no ‘spring chicken’ – she is ‘old’ by music industry standards. Mariah can continue to parade around like she’s in her twenties or even thirties again, but she ain’t. Even the best in the business wane after a while. That doesn’t mean that their legacy or legend isn’t important, but they certainly aren’t going to compete well with more youthful artists most of the time.

Ultimately, things don’t look good for MC – perhaps that’s an understatement in itself.   Unless Carey finds a hit that’ll appeal, Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse definitely has ‘flop’ written all over it. At this point, looks like Def Jam can prepare the eulogy.

Photo Credits: Def Jam


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