Once upon a time I was a Billboard Magazine fiend, checking the weekly updates was an obsession and ritual of mine for the longest. Recently though it seems like every time I look at the charts (especially the singles charts), it’s more of a list of crappy songs to avoid (for as long as I can before I succumb to it’s simple catchiness).
When I saw Yahoo’s listing of the Best Selling Albums and Singles of this year, I was actually proud of what the lists says about the state of music. While there are dozens upon dozens of terrible music that out-performs some really great songs, it seems like in total the good outweighs the bad.
1. Adele – 21 (2,425,000)
2. Lady Gaga – Born This Way (1,502,000)
3. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (962,000)
4. Jason Aldean – My Kinda Party (715,000)
5. Bruno Mars – Doo-Wops & Hooligans (670,000)
6. Justin Bieber – Never Say Never: The Remixes (667,000)
7. Chris Brown – F.A.M.E. (633,000)
8. Various Artists – Now 37 (631,000)
9. Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday (595,000)
10. Rihanna, Loud (586,000)
The best selling albums of the last 6 months shows a strong diversity, with just about every genre and type of artist represented in this Top 10. Of course you have the more popular names in the industry showing up. Lady GaGa is #2 based off just three weeks of being on the charts, while fellow Pop acts Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj following suit. R&B star Chris Brown also shows up, proving he has a strong fan base after all. Surprising is the strong showing for Country act Jason Aldean, and British folk band Mumford & Sons (who did benefit from a stellar Grammy awards performance).
However the true Queen this year is Adele, whose sophomore album “21” has surpassed all expectations. The album and it’s first single just won’t go away and continue to grow and expand into different genre charts. Adele’s success in so many ways goes against what has been popular the past couple of years. She’s not flashy, she doesn’t wear outrageous clothing or show skin to sell. She’s immensely talented, and her songs don’t rely on repetitive hooks or mind-numbingly simple dance beats to get radio attention. Even though a lot of her sales come from people falling into the hype, it’s great that someone with talent and timeless music is getting the hype in the first place.
1. Katy Perry featuring Kanye West – “E.T.” (4,029,000)
2. Adele – “Rolling In The Deep” (3,937,000)
3. Cee Lo Green – *beep* You (Forget You)” (3,184,000)
4. Lady Gaga – “Born This Way” (2,994,000)
5. Rihanna – “S&M” (2,700,000)
6. Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull – “On The Floor” (2,593,000)
7. The Black Eyed Peas – “Just Can’t Get Enough” (2,401,000)
8. Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes – “Look At Me Now” (2,375,000)
9. Bruno Mars – “Grenade” (2,330,000)
10. Katy Perry – “Firework” (2,241,000)
The best selling singles still shows that for some reason the US is obsessed with Dance music with dumb lyrics and catchy hooks, but there’s enough here outside of that which shows that maybe that trend is slowly dying (or is that wishful thinking). There are a few songs here that shock the hell out of me (how did “Just Can’t Get Enough” become so popular, and sorry but “Grenade” sucks!), but songs like “E.T.” “Look At Me Now” “Fuck You” and “Rolling in the Deep” make me proud somehow. They all manage to escape the “winning formula” for Pop hits. While “S&M” and “Born This Way” are at least dance tracks more true to the real dance sound of the 90’s.
Hype and heavy promotion (and “Glee”, yuck) are reasons for some of these singles success but these charts are good for two reasons. At least one artist isn’t dominating like in previous years (Katy Perry is the only one with multiple slots in best selling singles), and at least there’s a fair representation of different types of music. What does this say about America? Not much really, just maybe we aren’t as predictable. Who would have guessed Lady GaGa could share and chart with a Female Hip Hop Act and a Folk Band!?
If you want to read Yahoo’s write up, click here