Wednesday, May 23, 2012


So as mentioned, Epoch 3 was a trainwreck: WGWG infestation led to massive flops, and Idol went zig with soft, coffeehouse rock while the world went zag with electropop and hip hop. There couldn't have been a greater clash in styles ever since the Jackie Chan met Chris Tucker in Rush Hour. So what did Epoch 4 have in store for us?

Well, let's just say Idol didn't learn its lesson (if you can already tell from the title above). Take a look after the jump:

Here were the top 10 albums of 2011:

2.ChristmasMichael Buble
3.Born This WayLady Gaga
4.Tha Carter IVLil' Wayne
5.My Kinda PartyJason Aldean
6.Sigh No MoreMumford & Sons
7.Take CareDrake
8.Under The MistletoeJustin Bieber
9.Watch The ThroneJay Z & Kayne West
10.Own The NightLady Antebellum

This year was actually very receptive to supposed out of mainstream types like Adele and Mumford & Sons, who probably who would have been relegated to the indie scene on many occasions but starred in bringing back soulful pop and R&B. I didn't want to brand Adele as pure pop, so I didn't colorcode her yellow like I did with Gaga/Bieber. Classical Christmas stuff still sells as seen with Buble. Country also shows its strength with Aldean and Lady A, but again it's mostly rap and more rap and electropop again. 3 hip rop/rap, 2 electropop, 2 country, 1 alt rock, 2 out of mainstream (soulful pop/classical). So there was variety here.

Top 10 songs 2011:

1AdeleRolling In The Deep
2LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRockParty Rock Anthem
3Katy PerryFirework
4Katy Perry feat. Kanye WestE.T.
5Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & NayerGive Me Everything
6Bruno MarsGrenade
7Cee Lo GreenF**K You (Forget You)
8Nicki MinajSuper Bass
9Maroon 5 feat. Christina AguileraMoves Like Jagger
10The Black Eyed PeasJust Can't Get Enough

Again, there's more eclecticism: no wonder why Nigel chose this year as the year to institute Bruno Mars/Cee Lo songs into group nights and overdose on Adele songs throughout the competition, because those types can sing and sell, and that's what he aspires his contestants to be. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of R&B/hip hop (6 of the 10), and electropop/pop (3 of the 10), and then soulful pop (1). Notice how I colorcoded Maroon 5 differently--once alternative rock in 2004, they've now sold out into pop. But this year seems like it bodes well for good singers, eh, so maybe Idol has a chance?

Scotty McCreery (winner)
Clear As Day   1.05mil

Kelly Clarkson (winner)
Stronger    795K

Chris Daughtry (4th)
Break The Spell    442K

Jennifer Hudson (7th)
I Remember Me   421K

Lauren Alaina (2nd)
Wildflower    280K

David Cook (winner)
This Loud Morning   118K

James Durbin (4th)
Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster   109K

Scotty tries to resuscitate the Idol machine from its WGWG epic fails of the past several seasons, and he's actually the first guy since Cook to debut over the million mark, through the generous hands of country music. Again, with Jason Aldean, one might argue that he's piggybacking off of him, and one might wonder if he's getting a few tweens (Bieber contingent?) to buy the album as well.

Yeah, the music industry's diluted in album selling, but not even Kelly can pump up those sales. Again, and this is one thing I'll keep reiterating, there's no other pop rawk type like her in 2011: yeah, P!nk made a return (successfully), but she didn't churn out any top 10 albums or singles that year. So Kelly at this point is living off past reputation.

Daughtry's sales keep sliding, this is the third album. No more rock variant singles to be found on the chart (no, Maroon 5 doesn't count anymore), and Mumford and Sons is indie (maybe Phillip can leech off them, but we'll read about that below). Daughtry is neither of those, so he's just living off his name.

Jennifer Hudson, again like Fantasia is mostly courting the urban types, so she's able to withstand the changing face of electropop. And like Fantasia at the end of Epoch 3, she's able to maintain her sales. Interestingly, she's teamed up with Rick Ross and Ne-Yo in her latest single, so one wonders if she's starting to make a move into the mainstream R&B charts. But she's selling well, and one wonders if she's leeching off a few of the Adele/Cee Lo/Bruno Mars types--the ones who like pure singing can buy her album, and she's fortunate to have released it at this time.

Lauren Alaina perhaps is getting some Lady A fans to get her album, but she didn't sell that much considering it's the readily accepting hands of country. But it's still early 2011 and country fans are known to buy albums later in time so that can change.

Remember when I said the rock genre is no longer to be found? Yeah, look at David Cook's and Durbin's sales. Cook did so horribly he got kicked off his label. Enough said. That's the problem with rock: the mainstream is starting to dislike it more and more, and the sales are starting to flag, and there's Idol fatigue of that everywhere. Keep this in mind once we get to Phillip Phillips.

Kelly Clarkson (WINNER)
--Mr Know It All (2011)--(#1 4 times) --(10+ weeks)

So largely, it's just Kelly pulling the weight again. No one else has released singles or has charted a relevant single. Idol's diminishing returns are really showing up here. Daughtry couldn't get any of his singles to chart on AT40. This might have been the low point of Idol--in 2011, yeah Scotty and JHud sold well, but they were in their respective niches that don't get mainstream radio play, so Idol had little to show for that.

Perhaps the major issue was that 2011 was very receptive to big belters--Bruno, Cee Lo, Adele anyone? And even indie types like Mumford and Sons. But Idol's stable of belters and past WGWGs couldn't meet that standard, as seen in the charts, so that's why they've been trying to force this sort of music down our throats throughout AI10 and AI11. So Idol wasn't able to capitalize on this wave. So did Idol try to rectify this situation by casting or helping a  pop/hip hop friendly type win AI11 (wink wink, Jessica Sanchez)?


And let's go to 2012, now, the top 10 selling albums (as of now):

01 - 3,085,363 - 21 - Adele
02 - *753,400 - THE GREATEST HITS - Whitney Houston
03 - 646,460 - NOW 41 - Various
04 - 615,312 - TUSKEGEE - Lionel Richie
05 - 541,230 - UP ALL NIGHT - One Direction

06 - 464,359 - TAKE CARE - Drake
07 - 449,715 - MDNA - Madonna
08 - 433,227 - 19 - Adele
09 - 415,406 - PINK FRIDAY: ROMAN RELOADED - Nicki Minaj
10 - 383,297 - OWN THE NIGHT - Lady Antebellum

So right now we're in one of those resurgence phases for those who reminisce about old school music--Adele (who's old school), and then Whitney Houston and Lionel Richie are really attracting a ton of album buyers. Madonna's also old school, but sold out into electropop, continuing that trend with the help of Drake and Nicki Minaj in the hip hop sectors. There's definitely an opening for people who like to sing old school. And then there's One Direction, showing that tween pop with autotune sells. Lady Antebellum shows country can sell. So 5 soul/old school types, 2 pop/electropop, 2 hip hop, and 1 country. There's diversity of music in 2012.

And since we don't know the top 10 songs for 2012 yet, here's the top 10 currently on the chart right now:

We Are Young feat. Janelle Monae
22The Wanted
Glad You Came
34Flo Rida
Wild Ones feat. Sia
43Katy Perry
Part of Me
Somebody That I Used To Know
66Nicki Minaj
77One Direction
What Makes You Beautiful
85Kelly Clarkson
Rumour Has It
1010Justin Bieber

In fact, the first thing that jumps out is that hip hop/R&B is no longer super dominating the singles charts--yeah, I know, there's now a line line between electropop and hip hop, but what we're seeing is tween pop selling (1D, Bieber) and boybands (The Wanted, 1D) in addition to alternative rock/world music that are a bit out of the mainstream in Fun and Gotye.  Kelly Clarkson and Adele round out the list to show that good vocals can still persevere.

Idol albums, 2012:

Carrie Underwood
Blown Away    441K

Adam Lambert
Trespassing    77K

Kellie Pickler
100 Proof    72K

Casey James
Casey James   37K

Kris Allen
Thank You Camellia   15K-20K

Haley Reinhart
Listen Up!    15K-20K

Idol albums aren't selling what they used to, but Carrie Underwood's attempt would rank near the top of the leaderboard for 2012 spawns. She's obviously an established name, but country's still buying as Lady Antebellum is also in the top of the heap. Adam Lambert sold relatively decently for the first week and might be taking advantage of America's receptiveness of indie music, between seeing Gotye and Fun do well. Pickler's sold decently for a third attempt and shows country still remains strong, Casey James didn't sell much but for season 9 standards and an album released that late, it's not horrendous. Kris Allen and Haley Reinhart appear to be flops--while Kris is a product of WGWG exhaustion and the fact that there isn't that sort of alternative rock on the charts in 2012 (that stuff died down in 2010), Haley is a little surprising. With big voices, world indie music being strong in 2012, she might catch on with a good single, but that's not a good start at all. We'll see how that transpires.

Idol songs on the chart:

Kelly Clarkson (WINNER)
--Stronger (2012)--(#1) --(still on chart)

Again, it's just Kelly. No other Idol representatives are there. For 2011 and 2012, it's Kelly, and as of now it's one hit each. Yeah, Kelly's doing well again in terms of singles, but it's a problem when Idol had several types spawn singles on the charts from 2003-2010, and then no one else again as everyone's either become irrelevant or relegated to adult contemporary. Again, it's due to the WGWG fatigue--Idol got a country singer who sold well, but will never appear on the mainstream charts (it's country, and not country pop), and then the WGWG factor broke Idol's back--they stopped playing that rock, and there's exhaustion.

So what does this mean for newly crowned winner Phil Phillips? It doesn't bode well at all. As the fifth humble white guy to win, and one who is arguably worse than the others, if the others couldn't sell, he might not be able to. Kris Allen, a similar prototype, couldn't sell in this more receptive indie music 2012 world, and while Phil has that Mumford and Sons' sound that sold in 2011, they're not charting in 2012, so it might be a step late? Anyway, the WGWGs who attempted albums couldn't sell in 2011 either, so it's just pure exhaustion. The smart thing for Phil to do is revamp his image--it's actually refreshing to hear that he won't be attempting a similar sound to his coronation song, which is only adult contemporary stuff anyway. I've already recommended hip hop, something he has experience in, and his youtube videos prove that. Hip hop is something that ALWAYS sells, has been ever since Idol started, and particularly dominating the singles charts. Phillip did attempt Gotye in the group song but looked uncomfortable, so I doubt he can go that route. But clearly, Idol is already losing with this investment--he has the WGWG stigma, and simply just needs to buck that trend. Kris Allen tried to buck it by doing dance music, so this doesn't always work, but Phil just can't straight up be a Dave Matthews clone and expect to sell a ton of albums and chart here.  That's why it hurts Idol to have a winner like this--this prototype is the worst winner they can possibly have. They're lucky that Phil's roots in hip hop might make things a tad more interesting, but obviously there's no guarantees anywhere.

The runner up, Jessica Sanchez, actually is very lucky--look who's charting right now. Big diva belters--current (Adele, Kelly) and old (Lionel, Whitney). She can even do Madonna and Nicki Minaj, or frankly, any hip hop thing out there. But since Idol severely dumbed her down into a diva belter singing '80s songs just to appease their audience, I wonder if radio/album buyers will be as receptive to her. She didn't play to her strengths and show herself as current on the show at all, despite youtube's protestations. Again, though, there's so many ways that they can market her, and she's very young, so industry types will like that she has potential to grow. But really, she can't just stick it with the diva belter songs--there needs to be hip hop and up tempo beats, and likely rappers, to get her accepted mainstream. Considering that she has been receptive to that, it's the way to bet that's the way she's going to go. In fact, that's probably why she should have won--she had a lot of the elements Idol needed--just look at that barren top 40 chart where only Kelly Clarkson is sitting in--and you can see Jessica really help Idol's cause there. Instead, she couldn't even beat the same prototype who's won this show three times before, all with failing results. So Idol has become a show for the WGWGs--but that's another topic. If Phil doesn't pan out, which is very likely as explained above, they should invest their resources in Jessica. We already know the Filipinos will buy her albums en masse, so she comes in with a built-in international fanbase (frankly, besides Kelly and Lambert, there's probably no other Idol with that fanbase, since internationals don't really buy alt rock en masse) and a youtube fanbase, which might help her gain traction (the youtube fanbase helped Karmin, who's charting now). It would be interesting if Idol does the Lambert/Allen thing with these two--screws the winner over and invest their resources into the runner up, because it's clear who can sell more in the mainstream. Idol probably relented to their audience and has a clear voting/WGWG problem, but that's for another day. But Jessica is someone they should pay attention to.

With that, we end our run of epoch analyses. As you can see, at this stage Idol's just flailing in the water, churning out a ton of flops and just progressively getting worse outside the show. Yes, there's their stable of country and their stable of urban gospel types, but those are niche brands that never make it to the mainstream. Idol's attempts at WGWGs and "pop stars" all fail for the various reasons delineated throughout. We'll see if this gets rectified in the last part of Epoch 4, which is Season 12, and we'll see what changes Idol makes in future epochs. Having 2 WGWG-laden epochs might screw over the show, so changes need to be made.

We'll leave you with this:

1 comment:

  1. I think that Jessica will outsell Phillip and will be close to on par with Kelly.

    I think that the vote difference between the two last night was probably VERY close.

    I also think that while PP might have received more votes and won that there are actually just as many if not more JS fans and when her music comes out and catches the ears of people outside of AI, she'll do well.