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Never in the history of the industry have so many big albums been scheduled so late in the fourth quarter.
I.B. BAD: MAJORS GOING FOR IT ON FOURTH THIS SEASON
Who Will Score the Biggest Seller During the Holidays? And Why Are So Many Albums Being Released Without Singles on the Radio?
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The old saying has gained new relevance this fall in the music business, as the majors engage in a last-ditch effort to get their superstar releases out in time for the holidays. This eleventh-hour push has resulted in a pair of related phenomena. First, never in the history of the industry have so many big albums been scheduled so late in the fourth quarter, including critical LPs from J/RMG’s Alicia Keys (whose last album bowed at 742k and sold 3.7m), and the same label’s Jamie Foxx (265k, 1.1m) and Cash Money/Universal Motown’s Lil Wayne (1m, 3.3m), all coming on Dec. 15, a mere 10 days before Christmas. Geffen’s Mary J. Blige (629k, 1.6m), previously announced for this date, has just been moved to Dec. 22. This frenetic activity is giving the coming weeks the intensity of a two-minute drill in the NFL as various majors attempt late-game comebacks to make or salvage their seasons. What’s unusual about the Dec. 15 slate is that none of the principals have a radio hit leading up to release thus far, five weeks before street date. Although Keys’ lead single fell short at Urban and Rhythm, she’s getting plenty of visibility via Jay-Z’s smash “Empire State of Mind.” And expectations are modest for Lil Wayne, who’s coming with what’s described as a “rock” album. Around two dozen key releases will street between Nov. 17 and Dec. 15—assuming none of them gets bumped to next year, as just happened with Usher, while the status of Eminem’s album is still unknown. Second, as a result of this rush, a number of December albums will be released with no single on the radio. That’s hardly surprising considering that some of these albums are still being fine-tuned… Nov. 17, the first of what could turn out to be three late-Q4 blockbuster release dates, features Blue Note’s Norah Jones (405k, 1.6m), Interscope’s 50 Cent (691k, 1.4m), Columbia’s John Mayer (300k, 2.4m), 19/Jive/JLG American Idol winner Kris Allen and J/RMG’s Leona Lewis (205k, 1.6m)… The Nov. 23 intrigue involves a potential battle between Def Jam/IDJ superstar Rihanna (163k, 2.5m), whose lead single is burning up at radio, and Columbia sensation Susan Boyle (who just shattered the first-week sales record at Amazon), with Idol runner-up Adam Lambert, on 19/RCA/RMG, and Epic’s Shakira (128k, 1.7m) also in the mix. Shakira’s first single failed to call out (though the latter surpassed 1m paid downloads), but the follow-up, featuring Lil Wayne, is getting heavy spins and looks like a winner. RCA has high hopes for what it sees as the massive potential of the high-profile, flamboyant Lambert; the label will begin working a single next week. The fifth promising release is the debut from buzzing rookie Jay Sean out of the Cash Money stable through Universal Republic, who already has a major radio story. The first-week numbers on all of the above will be impacted by the traffic on Black Friday (11/27). The fact that this is Thanksgiving week accounts for all of these releases being moved up to Monday… On Dec. 8, Jive/JLG’s Chris Brown (294k, 1.9m) tops a relatively light schedule that also includes Interscope’s Timbaland (138k, 1.2m) along with Virgin’s 30 Seconds to Mars (21k, 1.2m), who are riding a hot track at radio… As to which of these albums will reign supreme during the imminent holiday season, in a just-concluded informal survey of industry observers, the names that came up most frequently were The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack, Michael Jackson’s This Is It, Rihanna and 19/Arista Nashville’s Carrie Underwood (527k, 3m), with Susan Boyle as the dark horse… RCA executive Ashley Newton was planning to make the intra-corporate move to the Columbia presidency when an offer came from Warner/Reprise—though contrary to rumor, he was not promised the presidency. Rob Stringer, Steve Barnett and Rick Rubin all played roles in persuading Newton to take the Columbia job… Plenty of ugliness surrounding manager Johnny Wright, who switched from longtime partner AEG to rival Live Nation for the most recent tour of his client the Jonas Brothers. Wright’s decision reportedly so freaked out AEG Live boss Randy Phillips that he persuaded his overlords to sign off on the $6m acquisition of Wright’s management company in order to lock up his clients. But Wright’s first move after banking the AEG money was signing with Live Nation for Justin Timberlake’s upcoming tour... Names in the Rumor Mill: Clive Davis, Sylvia Rhone, Bruce Lundvall, Joe Galante, Dr. Dre and Michael Rapino.
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EGGNOG!
Ours is mostly bourbon.
MISTLETOE!
Delicious in salads.
CHESTNUTS!
Ours are roasting, but it could be these slim-fit jeans.
WEED!
An entire Christmas tree made of it. Is what we want. for Christmas.
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