Tuesday, May 22, 2012

EPOCH 2 (IDOL'S GOLDEN YEARS): THE CONCEPT OF "PIGGYBACKING" AND WHY IT MATTERS POST-IDOL

Continuing on to 2005-2007, or AI4-AI6, when Idol unleashed its rockers and had their contestants pull their weight (we won't be hearing that after this).



This is a continuation of my last article, the first epoch.




2005, Top 10 Best Selling Albums:

 1. The Emancipation of Mimi, Mariah Carey   4,968,606 
 2. Massacre, 50 Cent   4,852,744 
 3. Breakway, Kelly Clarkson  3,496,192 
 4. American Idiot, Green Day  3,360,394 
 5. Monkey Business, Black Eyed Peas  3,037,251
 6. X & Y, Coldplay  2,615,280 
 7. Feels Like Today, Rascal Flatts  2,511,209 
 8. Love.Angel.Music.Baby, Gwen Stefani  2,505,390 
 9. Late Registration, Kanye West  2,413,580
 10. The Documentary, The Game 2,275,646

As you can see, this was the bounceback year for music: Mariah, Green Day, Gwen Stefani were revered in the '90s, but came back with hits. The Black Eyed Peas and Kanye West, two types that are still going strong today, made their mark in the album industry. Also, an Idol finally makes an appearance-Kelly was 3rd on this list. There's 6 R&B/hip hop (although Gwen Stefani was a borderline case: however, she teamed up with so many rappers for her album I had to lump her here), 2 alt rock, 1 country, and 1 pop (Kelly). At 2005 Kelly was actually holding down the fort for pop stars, surprisingly.

2005, Singles:


1Mariah CareyWe Belong Together
2Gwen StefaniHollaback Girl
3MarioLet Me Love You
4Kelly ClarksonSince U Been Gone
5Ciara feat. Missy Elliott1, 2 Step
6Kanye West feat. Jamie FoxxGold Digger
7Green DayBoulevard of Broken Dreams
850 Cent feat. OliviaCandy Shop
9The Pussycat Dolls feat. Busta RhymesDon't Cha
10Kelly ClarksonBehind These Hazel Eyes

As you can see, it's Green Day, Kelly Clarkson, and the field. With Green Day holding down the fort for alt rockers, and Kelly for pop rock. And the rest--hip hop and R&B. Again, you can never escape it, eh? Although it's funny how Nicole Scherzinger lost relevance despite getting a single to chart near the top in 2005.

Now, Idol, albums:

Carrie Underwood (winner)
Some Hearts 7.2mil


Bo Bice (#2)
The Real Thing 673K

*Eight other Idols also released albums this year, but they're really irrelevant for this discussion. None of them made a dent in the music industry anyway.

Obviously, Carrie made her mark and sold a ton off her AI4 victory. Country didn't make a mark in 2005, but in 2004, there was Kenny Chesney, Gretchen Wilson and Tim McGraw who sold a ton of albums, and Josh Gracin leeched off them. Carrie, as the victor, was able to leech off them even more. So despite the widely held belief that she didn't piggyback off of anyone, she actually did.

As for Bo, 19E tried to market him as the second coming of Nickelback, and that was an epic flop. He wasn't anything like Nickelback on the show, and would never be. Actually, from 2002 to 2004 (see my last article) alternative rock was seeing fewer and fewer hits on the chart and fewer albums sold, and even at 2005, only Green Day and Coldplay were making an impact. That sort of rock wasn't exactly in Bo's wheelhouse, so it wasn't a surprise he flopped. The sad thing was, sure, post-grunge didn't have major success since 2002, but as you'll see below, in 2006, post-grunge made a resurgence. So there's a spot in the market for that stuff. You'll see that Daughtry took advantage of that because he approximated Nickelback better than Bice ever did.

Now, Idol, singles:

Kelly Clarkson (winner)
--Since U Been Gone (2005)--(#1 8 times)--(33 weeks)
--Behind These Hazel Eyes (2005)--(#2 1 time)--(28 weeks)
--Because of You (2005)--(#1 5 times)--(28 weeks)



Just Kelly. Should be known as Kelly strikes back, or something. She really hit her stride in making a name for herself, especially since all the pop rockers have eroded from the chart and given way to hip hop. Tons of it.
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Onwards, and upwards, to 2006, top 10 selling albums:

  1. High School Musical, Soundtrack  3,719,071 
  2. Me and My Gang, Rascal Flatts    3,479,994 
  3. Some Hearts, Carrie Underwood  3,015,950 
  4. All the Right Reasons, Nickelback  2,688,166 
  5. Futuresex/Love, Justin Timberlake  2,377,127 
  6. Back to Bedlam, James Blunt  2,137,142 
  7. B'day, BeyoncĂ©   2,010,311 
  8. Hannah Montana, Soundtrack  1,987,681 
  9. Taking the Long Way, Dixie Chicks  1,856,284
  10. Extreme Behavior, Hinder  1,817,350

If 2005 was the bounceback year, 2006 was the introduction of High School Musical, Hannah Montana, and those TV show types that spawned songs (this eventually led to Glee, and things of that ilk). Actually, this year was quite diverse, which actually bodes well for Idol, as they're afraid of hip hop and need a resurgence of audience interest in diverse music for their contestants to have any chance. There isn't any hardcore hip hop that's selling albums, and Justin Timberlake and Beyonce, more or less were smooth R&B soul types that were current. Teen pop/the Disney audience was all zoned in this year, between HS Musical and Hannah Montana. Even the post-grunge stuff, made a return: Nickelback sold a ton, and Hinder did as well, and light rock in the form of James Blunt actually sold. Finally, there's country: as mentioned, Carrie entered a hot zone where country was selling a ton, between 2004 and now, in 2006, where Rascal Flatts and the Dixie Chicks were selling. Carrie found her niche in this market and while she piggybacked off Chesney/Wilson/McGraw, it also helped that it was a hot genre which sold a lot. In sum, there's 2 pop, 3 country, 3 light rock/post-grunge, and 2 hip hop/R&B types. It was a year of variety.

2006 Top 10 Singles:


1Daniel PowterBad Day
2Sean PaulTemperature
3Nelly Furtado feat. TimbalandPromiscuous
4James BluntYou're Beautiful
5Shakira feat. Wyclef JeanHips Don't Lie
6Natasha BedingfieldUnwritten
7Gnarls BarkleyCrazy
8Chamillionaire feat. Krayzie BoneRidin'
9Justin TimberlakeSexyback
10Beyonce feat. Slim ThugCheck on It


Ahhh, so remember I said variety? Check that?...This 2006 Top 10 Singles chart shows no less than 7 R&B/hip hop types making it, with luminaries like Sean Paul, Chamillionaire, Gnarls Barkley, Timberlake all doing well. Sure, light rock also did well on the charts--Daniel Powter and James Blunt, and Natasha Bedingfield represented the only pop single in this chart. But largely, only hip hop/R&B had its singles significantly charting, much like the last year, 2005, and hell, much like any time during the 2000s.

Idol, 2006, albums:

Chris Daughtry (#4)
Daughtry 4.9mil


Kellie Pickler (#6)
Small Town Girl 877K

Taylor Hicks (Winner)
Taylor Hicks 705K


Clay Aiken (#2) 
A Thousand Different Ways  531K


Fantasia (Winner)
Fantasia 530K


Ruben Studdard (Winner)
The Return 238K

Now this was a year where he had former winners/contestants trying to continue their momentum, and the introduction of AI5's winners into the forefront. Some would say 2006 was Idol's best year, from an album selling, and as you'll see below, from a singles perspective, and it's true. It was the year of the piggybacking. Daughtry piggybacked off Nickelback's and Hinder's coattails; both were post-grunge acts, and caught fire in 2006, the same year Daughtry released an album. He sold right along with them. Similarly, Kellie Pickler was able to capitalize for the fever for the Dixie Chicks, and Rascal Flatts, and she was the first contestant to piggyback not only them, but also another former Idol contestant--Carrie Underwood. So, similarly, she sold. Taylor Hicks' blues loving would have been way better in 2002 or 2003, when he could've capitalized off Norah Jones' success: that brand of eclecticism is not seen on the charts anymore, so despite being a winner, he couldn't sell. Clay Aiken, Fantasia and Ruben Studdard, who didn't fit into any of the genres (the latter two were too gospel to be R&B/hip hop) not surprisingly couldn't sell. But like Kelly and Carrie before them, they had two contestants (Chris, Kellie) that were able to piggyback successfully.

Idol, 2006, singles:

Kelly Clarkson (winner)
--Walk Away (2006)--(#3 1 time)--(23 weeks)


Carrie Underwood (WINNER)
--Before He Cheats (2006)--(#27 1 time)--(8 weeks); but reentered charts (2007)--(#6 1 time)--(23 weeks)


Bo Bice (#2)
--The Real Thing (2006)--(#8 1 time)--(22 weeks)

Mario Vazquez (dropped out)
--Gallery (2006)--(#8 3 times)--(25 weeks)



And to complement the new blood who were able to sell albums, Idol had its old guard still releasing its torrent of hit singles. Complementing Kelly, who was left to carry Idol's weight in singles in 2005, is now Carrie, with her country hit which was able to cross over to mainstream charts, surprising for a country song. Bo Bice was a one-hit wonder: trust me, because as I mentioned, in 2006 that post grunge stuff was hot, radio was willing to give Bice a try; had he done this now in 2012, no dice. But the major surprise here is Mario Vazquez: yes, he dropped out of Idol, but he's still somewhat affiliated with the machine, and could it be? Idol inadvertently produced a contemporary R&B type? Yeah, he was a one hit wonder, but that song lasted long in the charts. I'd say Vazquez was able to leech off of Justin Timberlake's success here, but frankly, R&B/hip hop has been so popular throughout the 2000s, it didn't really matter if he released it in 2003 or 2008. And he's the first Idol contestant outside the top five to have any sort of relevance, however fleeting.

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Now, to the last part of Epoch 2, which occurred in 2007:

Top 10 selling albums, 2007:

  1. Noel, Josh Groban 
  2. High School Musical 2,Soundtrack 
  3. Long Road Out of Eden, Eagles 
  4. As I Am, Alicia Keys
  5. Daughtry, Daughtry
  6. Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus, Soundtrack 
  7. Minutes to Midnight, Linkin Park 
  8. Dutchess, Fergie 
  9. Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift
  10. Graduation, Kanye West

2007 was also a diverse year: 2 pop, 1 classical/jazz, 3 old school rock/post-grunge/nu-metal, 1 country (pop), 3 R&B/hip hop. Again, like 2006, this was why Idol did well: the audience was receptive to different forms of music. Let me just isolate the Eagles for a second: old school music is back! The Eagles got their fans to purchase their album even though they had not been relevant since the '70s and '80s. I guess Bo Bice would have actually done well in 2007, or frankly, any other old school type rocker that auditioned in Idol. But really, Daughtry, having leeched off Nickelback/Hinder, began selling records now, and Linkin Park made a resurgence again, showing that the rap rock/nu metal stuff still can sell. Taylor Swift introduced herself into the scene with her faux country pop stylings, actually smartly leeching off of the High School Musical/Dixie Chicks contingent by combining their fanbases to buy her album. Josh Groban showed that in 2007, there was a market for classical pop opera types, which paved the way for other luminaries like Jackie Evancho/Susan Boyle in AGT/BGT. As usual, hip hop kept selling.

Top 10 Songs, 2007:


1BeyonceIrreplaceable
2Rihanna feat. Jay-ZUmbrella
3Gwen Stefani feat. AkonThe Sweet Escape
4FergieBig Girls Don't Cry
5T-Pain feat. Yung JocBuy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')
6Carrie UnderwoodBefore He Cheats
7Plain White T'sHey There Delilah
8Akon feat. Snoop DoggI Wanna Love You
9Nelly FurtadoSay It Right
10Fergie feat. LudacrisGlamorous


Again, it's a hip hop/R&B dominated chart with your token light rock type squeezing in, and Carrie Underwood actually makes an appearance here, a continuation from last year's 2006 success. Another plea to Idol: want your contestants to chart? It's obvious which genre to cast. Bueller? Bueller?

Idol albums sold, 2007:

Carrie Underwood (WINNER)
Carnival Ride  3.3mil



Jordin Sparks (WINNER)
Jordin Sparks 1.04mil



Kelly Clarkson
My December   829K


Elliott Yamin
Elliott Yamin  527K


Katharine McPhee
Katharine McPhee  381K


Blake Lewis
Audio Day Dream 309K


Bo Bice
See The Light 62K

*Of course, there were several Idols who released albums, but they're irrelevant for this discussion.

As expected, by this time Carrie has piggybacked off the country and has made a name for herself, so her second album still sold a ton, even though Taylor Swift was the only faux country act that cracked the top ten in albums for 2007. With only teenage pop selling and no pop rock to be found, Kelly actually had a slump with her album, not selling much on her third album. Idol attempted to crack the Beyonce/Alicia/Rihanna R&B diva market with Jordin Sparks, perhaps hoping that she would also leech off the High School Musical/Hannah Montana teen pop contingent given her age. Actually, it was a smart ploy: she didn't sell super great, but decently. As mentioned, Taylor Swift probably combined the country and teen pop fans leading to her success. Also, besides Jordin, it's interesting to note that Idol can't get a contemporary black R&B/hip hop singer to leech off the existent guys on the charts, so they cast two white guys for the job: Elliott Yamin and Blake Lewis. Yamin actually sold very well for a third placer, and perhaps was able to leech off Timberlake of the past year, and perhaps piggybacked off of Alicia Keys to sell as well. Blake Lewis flopped for a runner up and actually like Yamin could have leeched off Timberlake, but largely this was the year of female R&B/hip hop types...if Lewis had done this in 2006 (when there was Chamillionaire)  and had a better produced album with collaborations, maybe he would have fared better. Katharine McPhee couldn't fit into the teen pop contingent, so her brand of pop had no place in the market--if Kelly couldn't do well in pop rock, McPhee couldn't do well here--to be honest, she would have been better served if she released an album in 2004, when she could have leeched off Ashlee Simpson the way Kim Locke might have done. Bo Bice was pretty much irrelevant at this time, as his non-Nickelback sensibilities couldn't even get the Daughtry and Nickelback fans to purchase his album.

Idol songs, 2007:

Kelly Clarkson (WINNER)
--Never Again (2007)--(#13 1 time)--(13 weeks)


Carrie Underwood (WINNER)
--Before He Cheats but reentered charts (2007)--(#6 1 time)--(23 weeks)



Katharine McPhee (#2)
--Over It (2007)--(#16 1 time)--(12 weeks)



Elliott Yamin (#3)
--Wait For You (2007)--(#4 1 time)--(29 weeks)



Chris Daughtry (#4)
--It's Not Over (2007)--(#1 2 times)--(25 weeks)
--Home (2007)--(#4 1 time)--(21 weeks)
--Over You (2007)--(#6 1 time)--(23 weeks)



As you can see, it was mostly Daughtry's year in terms of the singles--he had three singles do well, and as mentioned he had established a name for himself after leeching off of Nickelback the prior year. Kelly Clarkson hit the slump and only churned out a middling single, Carrie Underwood saw her song re-enter the charts, and Elliott Yamin, as mentioned taking advantage of the R&B infestation on the charts, saw his song chart very well in addition to selling albums. Again, after Mario Vazquez, this was Idol's second pseudo-R&B type to do well. Katharine McPhee had a middling single and was a one hit wonder who faded soon after.
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Check back for Epoch 3, when we enter the realm of instrument-playing Idol, which subsequently led to the WGWG era we're currently immersed in.








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