Gary anwsered my question in Ask Billboard column!
WAS LADY GAGA'S 'BORN THIS WAY' A DISAPPOINTMENT?
This past week, Lady Gaga's album "Born This Way" fell off the Billboard 200. At least Gaga is already teasing us with new album.
Do you think that the "Born This Way" era was a disappointment, compared to her "The Fame"/"The Fame" Monster" stretch?
Also, could you please give a gift to the Little Monsters and update us with the Nielsen SoundScan sales of Gaga's albums and top-selling singles?
After 53 weeks, "Born" departed having spent its first two weeks at No. 1 and racked sales to date of 2.2 million. Granted, its first week sales - 1.1 million - were aided by a promotion that discounted the set to 99 cents by AmazonMP3 for a day. Then again, the album still sold 446,000 physical copies that week, far ahead of the 153,000 copies that the No. 2 title, Brad Paisley's "This Is Country Music," sold overall in that frame, so "Born" would've attained No. 1 bow despite the Amazon sale-pricing.
(By the way, "Born" debuted atop the Billboard 200 dated June 11, 2011, so, happy first birthday and a day since "Born" was born on the tally.)
First, per your sales question, the totals of Gaga's two other releases: "The Fame" has sold 4.4 million and her EP "The Fame Monster," 1.5 million.
As for her biggest downloads, here are her top 10 (as she's released 10 2-million sellers):
6.7 million, "Poker Face"
6.6 million, "Just Dance," featuring Colby O'Donis
5.2 million, "Bad Romance"
3.7 million, "Born This Way"
3.3 million, "Paparazzi"
3.2 million, "Telephone," featuring Beyonce
2.6 million, "The Edge of Glory"
2.5 million, "LoveGame"
2.4 million, "Alejandro"
2 million, "You and I"
Now, the bigger question: was the "Born This Way" era a success?
I think no matter how you define "success," a year on the Billboard 200, 2.2 million copies sold and six top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hits, including the six-week No. 1 title cut and three other top 10s, is pretty good, no? "Born" was also Billboard's No. 3-selling album of the 2011 chart year after Adele's "21" and Taylor Swift's "Speak Now."
Compared to "The Fame" and "The Fame Monster," however, the album hit some hiccups at radio, as only the title track topped the Pop Songs chart - after seven of her prior eight career-opening singles had reached No. 1. Against that arrival, anything less than a No. 1 song might seem a bit disappointing. But, that's a pace that essentially can't be sustained. Even the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Madonna never led the Hot 100 with every single they released.
If anything, Gaga's grabbing of the spotlight from her 2008 entrance up until "Born" may have left her vulnerable to overexposure at radio. With stations still playing so many of her earlier hits, programmers could've considered it safer to play those familiar titles instead of, say, "Judas" or "Marry the Night." Of course, if audience research had been better for those songs, stations would've played them more. Instead, they stopped at Nos. 15 and 14, respectively, on Pop Songs.
This question actually reminds me of talk surrounding the Boston Celtics after their loss (deep breath …) in the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals this weekend to the Miami Heat. Sports radio is focusing on whether the Celtics' five-year run with stars Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, who joined forces on the team in 2007, should be considered successful considering they won "only" one championship in that span (in 2008).
Certain commentators have said that they don't consider that stretch an all-out success because they feel that the team was likely good enough to have won more than one title. (We Celtics fans are a bit spoiled; the team won eight straight crowns in 1959-66). It's the same perspective that has surrounded baseball's Atlanta Braves after they won one World Series (in 1995) despite winning their division for 14 straight seasons. Or, Ted Williams, who won six AL batting titles - but he never won a Series. And, the Heat's LeBron James has won three MVPs - but no titles.
So, can success be considered disappointing? I'd go with that there are degrees of success; it's not black-and-white.
Overall, I'd rather celebrate triumphs than try to find fault with them. It's one thing if an artist or album - or team or player - never hits No. 1 (i.e., is the best in its sport). It's another if you reach the summit. No one else did in that particular time frame, so it seems most fruitful to laud such a hard-earned achievement.
(We could similarly consider Gaga's "Telephone" partner, Beyonce, and her latest album, "4." The set has logged no Hot 100 top 10s after her previous effort, "I Am…Sasha Fierce," yielded four. Still, it won praise for Beyonce's deeper exploration into traditional R&B, topped the Billboard 200 and generated a seven-week R&B/Hip-Hop Songs No. 1, "Love on Top").
As for Gaga herself? She likewise sees the optimistic side of any hard-fought accolades.
"It sometimes makes people feel better about themselves to put other people down or make fun of them or maybe make mockery of their work," she said in concert in New Zealand this weekend.
"That doesn't make me feel good at all. That just makes me feel like I'm not being a good human being.
"I feel like if you're a really good human being, you can try to find something beautiful in every single person, no matter what."
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