Blog Posts by Paul Grein

  • Vindication For “The Man In Black”

    The ultimate indignity for a recording artist may be to have your album shelved by your record company. Your own record company is telling you that your work isn't good enough (or commercial enough) to release. The great Johnny Cash had such a humbling experience in 1984, when Columbia Records, his record label since 1958, shelved an album he recorded with famed country producer Billy Sherrill. Cash died in 2003, but this week he won some vindication: That album, titled "Out Among The Stars," entered Billboard's Top Country Albums chart at #1, dislodging an album by current hot-shot Eric Church. The album entered The Billboard 200, an all-genre chart, at #3, just behind the "Frozen" soundtrack and Shakira's "Shakira."

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  • ACM Preview: Who Will Win The ACM Awards & Why

    Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan, who have the #1 song on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for the third straight week with "This Is How We Roll," are likely to be the big winners at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday. Both artists are likely to take home three awards. (In addition, Bryan is co-hosting the show with Blake Shelton.)

    Here are all the categories that will presented on Sunday's telecast. I show the nominees, who won in that category at the ACM Awards last year, who won in that category at the rival Country Music Assn. Awards on Nov. 6, who had the best-seller of the nominees according to Nielsen SoundScan, and finally who I think will win.

    (In categories were no recording is specified, I looked at the sales of the artist's most recent studio album.)

    You may look this same data and come to a different conclusion about who is likely to win. (And you may well be right!) It's always hard to predict the winners at award shows. But it's always fun. Play along and see where you agree and disagree.

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  • Wanna Buy Wu-Tang Clan’s Album?

    Are you a fan of the Wu-Tang Clan? How would you like to have the one and only copy that will ever be made of the influential rap group's new double album?

    It can be yours, if you're the highest bidder. The only hitch: The offers are reportedly already running into the millions.

    The album, "The Wu—Once Upon A Time In Shaolin…," consists of 31 tracks which have been recorded over the past six years. It was produced by Tarik "Cilvaringz" Azzougarh, "under the tutelage" of the RZA, a founding member of the group. The album features guest appearances by Redman and Bonnie Jo Mason, among others.

    The music, we are told, will not be available digitally or in any other existing mass format. The plan is for the album to initially be a traveling exhibit, where fans can pay to hear it "as a one-off experience," before one buyer takes possession of it.

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  • ACM Preview: Country Music’s Oddest Chart-Toppers

    Who knew Sheena Easton was once a country sensation?

    Hundreds of artists have reached #1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart since it was introduced 70 years ago (as Most Played Juke Box Folk Records). Most have been top country stars, but some have come out of left field.

    In preparation for this weekend's Academy of Country Music Awards, Here are 15 artists you probably never would have guessed have a #1 country hit to their credit.

    15. The Mike Curb Congregation. The pop vocal ensemble was featured on Hank Williams Jr.'s "All for the Love of Sunshine," which hit #1 in September 1970. The song was featured in the movie "Kelly's Heroes," which starred Clint Eastwood. The ensemble backed Williams on two more top 10 country hits. Here's something even more unexpected — in 1978, Curb was elected Lt. Governor of California.

    14. Jimmy Buffett. The laid-back pop star teamed with Alan Jackson for "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," which spent eight weeks at #1 in 2003 and was voted Single of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. The

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  • ACM Preview: Where Are All The Country Women?

    Sheryl Crow is among the finalists for Female Vocalist of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday night. Crow released a country album, "Feels Like Home," last year, but it was only a modest hit. She's still best known as a pop singer.

    Kelly Clarkson has been nominated in the same category at the rival Country Music Assn. Awards the past two years. Clarkson has recorded duets with Reba McEntire, Jason Aldean and Vince Gill, but she, too, is still best known as a pop singer.

    Country folk are known for their hospitality, but isn't this taking it to extremes?

    Actually, the fact that Crow and Clarkson have received these nominations mostly reflects a shortage of viable female nominees in these categories. Female solo artists accounted for just four of the 40 best-selling country albums of 2013, according to Nielsen SoundScan, down from five the year before and eight in both 2010 and 2011.

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  • ACM Preview: Country’s Top Collaborators

    Florida Georgia Line is among the top nominees for this year's Academy of Country Music Awards. Luke Bryan, another top nominee, is set to co-host the April 6 show. In a case of perfect timing, their collaboration "This Is How We Roll" has been #1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for the past two weeks. This is only the second time in the chart's 70-year history that a collaboration by a duo and a solo artist has topped this chart. (This first happened in the summer of 1998 when "If You See Him/If You See Her" by Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn was on top for two weeks.)

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  • Chart Watch: After “Frozen,” Here Comes “Summer”

    Songs from "Frozen" are moving back up the Hot 100. In addition to Idina Menzel's "Let It Go," which leaps from #14 to #5 this week, Demi Lovato's version of the same song rebounds from #71 to #52 in its 17th week, "Do You Want To Build A Snowman?" by Kristen Bell, Agatha Lee, Monn & Katie Lopez rebounds from #79 to #62 in its 13th week and "For The First Time In Forever" by Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel rebounds from #85 to #65 in its 13th week. These three songs have climbed as high as #38, #55 and #57, respectively.

    The "Frozen" soundtrack tops The Billboard 200 for the seventh week this week and is assured of an eighth week on top next week.

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  • Chart Watch: Two Movie Songs In Top 5

    Two songs that competed for the Academy Award for Original Song on March 2 are listed in the top five on this week's Hot 100. Pharrell Williams's "Happy" holds at #1 for the fifth week. Idina Menzel's "Let It Go" rebounds from #14 to #5, in the wake of the release of the DVD and blu-ray of "Frozen." ("Let It Go," of course, won the award.)

    This is the first time in 16 years that two of the Original Song finalists were top five hits on the Hot 100. The two nominees for 1997 that made the top five were Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" (from "Titanic"), which spent two weeks at #1, and LeAnn Rimes's "How Do I Live" (from "Con Air"), which spent four weeks at #2. (Those songs were never in the top five at the same time, however.)

    "Let It Go" this week becomes the highest-charting Oscar winner for Original Song since Eminem's "Lose Yourself," the 2002 winner. That song logged 12 weeks on top. ("Lose Yourself" made news of its own this week. Details below.) "Let It Go" this week surpasses Adele's "Skyfall," the 2012 winner, which peaked at #8.

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  • Chart Watch: “Frozen” DVD Boosts Soundtrack

    The "Frozen" soundtrack sold 202K copies this past week, more than double last week's tally of 99K. The surge is linked to the release of the movie's DVD and Blu-ray, which sold a combined 3.2 million copies in their first day of release last Tuesday (March 19). This spurt for the soundtrack surpasses the gains posted by "The Lion King" soundtrack following the release of the VHS and Laserdisc in March 1995 and the "Twilight" soundtrack following the release of the DVD in March 2009.

    The "Frozen" soundtrack has sold 1,633,000 copies. Nearly half of those copies (781K) have been sold digitally, which makes "Frozen" the best-selling soundtrack in digital history. It this week pushes ahead of "Pitch Perfect," which has sold 760K digital copies. "Twilight" is in third place, with sales of 742K digital copies.

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  • Chart Watch: “#Selfie” Is A #Smash

    The Chainsmokers's "#Selfie" leaps from #28 to #18 in its third week on the Hot 100. Digital sales rank: #6 (111K). The novelty song about the "selfie" explosion is the latest in a long string of singles that were quick to comment on a cultural phenomenon. Others include Ray Stevens's "The Streak" (#1 in 1974), about that year's streaking craze; C.W. McCall's "Convoy" (#1 in 1976), about the booming citizens band (CB) radio phenomenon; Buckner & Garcia's "Pac-Man Fever" (#9 in 1982), about the videogame explosion; and "Valley Girl" by Frank Zappa featuring an uncredited Moon Unit Zappa (#32 in 1982), about suburban teens' "Valley-speak."

    Other novelty songs that have mirrored the times include Brian Hyland's "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" (#1 in 1960), about the skimpy beach attire that was becoming acceptable, and Larry Groce's "Junk Food Junkie" (#9 in 1976), a reaction to the growing popularity of health food.

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