S1: Welcome to Hit Parade, a podcast of pop chart history from Slate magazine about the hits from coast to coast.
S2: I’m Chris Melaniphy, chart analyst, pop critic and writer of Slate’s Why is the Song No.
S3: One series on today’s show? Forty years ago this week, in mid-February 1981, Billboard’s album chart was dominated by rock groups. They took up half of that week’s top 10 LPs by the police.
S4: Blondie Sticks and Oreo Speedwagon were all riding high, but the album by a rock group that had been lodged in the top 10 the longest, came from an Australian band founded by a pair of Scottish brothers, one of whom wore a schoolboy’s uniform while shredding his guitar on stage. Nothing about this band was subtle, including their screeching lead vocalist.
S3: Mean back in black by AC, DC was a monster success and a career triumph, the band had come back from a tragedy that could have broken them up. Instead, they wound up with their all time best seller.
S2: The Back in Black LP would ultimately spend years on the album chart and generate the band’s two most iconic hits.
S3: But back in black never topped the Billboard album chart, AC DC would have to wait for the end of 1981 for that to happen.
S4: For those about to rock, we salute you. Was the album that finally made a CDC chart toppers, but it’s a far less well known album. Its tracks less familiar, its ultimate sales far lower.
S5: And AC DC are not alone in this chart phenomenon.
S6: If I played you some hits by other superstars and asked you to guess which of their LPs topped America’s premier album chart, you might have a tough time. Whether it’s Cat Stevens Morning has.
S7: Like the first morning, the. Boston.
S8: Jackson Browne. For Pat Benatar, why don’t you hit me with your best shot?
S1: In every case, the songs I just played were not on the respective artists, No. One album, actually, when these acts finally topped the album chart, they did it with the LP just after their biggest hit.
S6: And this persisted into the SoundScan era when the charts got more accurate.
S1: And even into the 21st century, you know, we get rid of. As a chart analyst, I needed to coin a term for this album chart idiosyncrasy, and so I named it after the biggest band ever to top the album chart after a better selling but lower charting predecessor.
S2: I call it the AC DC rule.
S4: AC DC are a fairly rare phenomenon, a band that changed lead singers and found their greatest success, but they weren’t alone.
S1: There’s at least one other multi platinum hard rock group whose entire discography seemed to exemplify the AC DC rule. Today on Hit Parade, I will explain the causes of this odd pattern, why a hit act might, in the short term chart better with a follow up than they do with a classic from Jethro Tull to Billy Joel Hootie and the Blowfish to Radiohead, Lady Gaga to Imagine Dragons, their biggest opening album or even their only chart topping album might not be their best remembered.
S9: And No Act Better exemplifies this weird chart pattern than a stalwart group of hard rock Thrasher’s who are still topping charts to this day.
S4: And that’s where your hit parade marches today, the week ending December 26, 1981, when AC DC finally topped the Billboard 200 album chart with for those about to Rock, We Salute You, their first ever number one album. As far as I’m concerned, for those about to Rock, codified a chart tradition that persists to this day. The follow up that is really a referendum on its predecessor. Join me as we walk through some quirky hit albums and I try to decode why I still call this phenomenon the OECD Seewald.
S6: Before we plunge into my analysis of hit albums, let’s talk nostalgically for a moment about one of those things we can’t do right now during the covid-19 pandemic movies. Remember movies in movie theaters.
S10: I can’t believe Vanessa, my bride, my one true love, the woman who taught me the beauty of monogamy. Was a fembot only loan.
S11: Would he take that means I’m single again? Oh, we may.
S6: In the summer of nineteen ninety nine, the movie Austin Powers, The Spy Who Shagged Me, starring Mike Myers in multiple hilarious comic roles, had a rather historic opening at the U.S. box office. This sequel was instantly bigger than its predecessor. How much bigger? In its opening weekend, The Spy Who Shagged Me took in more than the first Austin Powers movie grossed in its entire run.
S2: One million dollars. Well, OK, the first movie did better than a million dollars, but it was a rather modest success. Nineteen ninety Seven’s Austin Powers International man of mystery was the ultimate slow growing hit. Meyer’s first spy spoof film found its audience on cable television and the then new DVD format in the months after it left movie theaters. But while still in cinemas, the first Austin Powers only grossed a respectable, not spectacular, 53 million dollars. Whereas in its first three days, the spy who shagged me raked in nearly 55 million on its way to a final U.S. gross of more than two hundred million dollars.
S6: Enough for Dr. Evil to purchase whatever he might need sharks with laser beams attached to their heads. The second, Austin Powers, holds a unique distinction, reportedly, at least as long as box office tallies have been kept. The spy who shagged me stands as the first film ever to outgrows its predecessor in a single weekend. But lots of movie sequels open in that ballpark, particularly if the first film was a surprise hit.
S12: Hello New. Who are you? I am the architect, I created The Matrix.
S6: I’ve been waiting for you after nineteen ninety nine. The Matrix wildly exceeded expectations, revolutionizing millennial special effects and grossing over one hundred and seventy million dollars. Expectations were sky high for 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded. In its opening weekend alone, Reloaded took in one hundred and thirty four million dollars before its second weekend was over. Reloaded had beaten the entire first film’s domestic gross. Or here’s another example.
S13: A couple of years after that, I got a job and I got a job to do. And guess what? I did everything.
S6: But no one expected Disney’s first Pirates of the Caribbean 2003’s The Curse of the Black Pearl to do as well as it did. But after its steadily climbed to a three hundred million dollar gross expectations for 2006 as sequel Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest were off the charts, Dead Man’s chest raked in 56 million on its opening day. More than Curse of the Black Pearl had grossed in its entire first weekend dead man’s chest’s final gross of four hundred and twenty three million dollars was the highest of the Pirates franchise. Even certain raunchy comedy franchises follow this pattern.
S5: Oh my God, Alan, your head now your head.
S6: None of the stars of 2009 Nines, The Hangover, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis had ever led a blockbuster film. But when the so-called Citizen Kane of bachelor party movies became a left field two hundred and seventy seven dollars million grossing smash its 2011 follow up, The Hangover Part two opened to the biggest first weekend by a comedy film ever, debuting to more than one hundred million dollars as much as the first Hangover did in 10 days. Now, what else do all of these high grossing sequels have in common? That second film? It’s generally agreed not to be as good as the first. This is kind of nice, isn’t it?
S14: Three of us back together again.
S6: Oh, yes, The Hangover sequel drew largely negative reviews from many of the same critics who were charmed by the first one, the Pirates sequel was called Overlong and Overproduced. The second Matrix earned respectful reviews, but many complained its concepts were muddled and that it seemed designed mostly to set up the third matrix, even the second Austin Powers, much as it delighted audiences with new characters like Mini Me and the Ever Quotable Fat Bastard.
S11: I’m bigger than you. I’m on the food chain. Get in my belly.
S6: It earned Mike Myers praise for his comic chops, but otherwise drew tepid reviews. All four of these sequels have Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores considerably lower than the respective franchise’s first films. And in each case, it didn’t matter. Audiences were going to show up the first weekend, often the very first night, no matter what critics said, and no matter how they felt walking out. The instant smash opening of these sequels was a referendum on how much audiences loved their predecessors, not the new film. Yeah, this is just human nature. If a new series of anything catches on through word of mouth or surprised raves, the audience subconsciously says, we won’t miss this the next time. So the second season of a TV show opens to much higher ratings than the first, from The Sopranos to the Crown, maybe even in the case of Schitt’s Creek, the sixth season books in a long running series typically open bigger with each installment later. Volumes not only top the bestseller list, but garner instant bookstore frenzy from Harry Potter to Twilight to The Hunger Games. And so it goes with music. Some artists even release numbered albums that open like movie sequels like this British lady with the powerful voice.
S1: Adele’s 2008 debut album, 19, was named after her age when she finished recording it.
S2: It took the better part of a year to reach number 10 on the U.S. album chart, and it sold its first million copies here slowly over the course of three years, within a month of when it was finally certified platinum, Adele’s follow up arrived numbered again, kind of like a movie sequel. And this one came in with a bang. There’s a fire starting in my heart. Adele’s 2011 album, 21, named again for her age when she composed its songs, entered the Billboard 200 album chart at number one in March of 2011. Remember, to this point, her 19 album hadn’t gone higher than number 10 on the album chart. Of course, if you were paying any attention to popular music a decade ago, you know where the story goes from here.
S1: 21 was a mega blockbuster selling more copies than any album in 2011 or 2012, going diamond and spinning off multiple smashes like someone like you set fire to the rain and of course, rolling in the deep end feeling we good. But how did the album come in so hot and heavy, the week twenty one dropped rolling in the deep was rising on the hot 100 songs chart, but it wasn’t even in the top 10 yet. So why did 21 open so big? Well, over the course of three years, about a million Americans had bought 19 and fallen in love with Adele’s voice. They grew to love her gradually, a few fans at a time. But when her second album dropped, these new fans weren’t going to wait months to buy 21. Many of them about 350000 in the first week, to be exact, had to have it right away. In other words, 21 opened big not because of anything inherently great about twenty one. And it is a great album. It was a reflection of fans love of 19th.
S6: In its purest form, this is the baseline definition of my AC DC rule, which states initial sales of an album are a referendum on the public’s feelings about the Acts prior album, not the current one. That’s it. That’s the rule. So why didn’t I name it the Adell Rule? Clearly, the opening sales of twenty one were a referendum on nineteen. And by the way, her third album, the 2015 Uber Blockbuster Twenty five has.
S5: Opened even bigger, three point three eight million sold in the U.S. in its first week alone, the biggest opening week for any album ever. That first week of 2005 was itself a referendum on the public’s love for its predecessor. Twenty one.
S6: The reason Mirrool isn’t named for Adele is because Adele is honestly not the best example of the rule. Never.
S1: The fact is, 21 not only opened bigger than its predecessor, it ultimately sold the best, spun off the most hits and is generally widely regarded as her best album. It’s not overshadowed by nineteen twenty one went on to even greater things.
S6: No, the real reason I coined the rule was to pinpoint why certain albums start out bigger than a better loved predecessor, but then ultimately fall short, selling fewer copies, staying on the charts for less time, generating fewer hits, weaker reviews and maybe just a little less fan love. To me, no band exemplifies this better than AC DC. To explain why. Let’s take a spin through the band’s history. As you can probably tell by now, this episode of Hit Parade is not going to be exclusively about AC DC, but walking through how they came to record back in black and its chart topping follow up will provide a sense for why their chart performance is both totally unique and yet, to my mind, the prototype for my rule.
S3: You could say AC DC arrived on the scene, fully formed, started in Sydney in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, about a decade after the young family had moved from Scotland to Australia.
S4: The band had their brand of no frills, hard rock on lock from the jump. AC DC s very first internationally distributed album, High Voltage, composed of songs from two prior Australian albums, set the template leading off with the anthem. It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll. The song was Whiffy, Fist Pumping Unsubtle, and the album’s cover featured imagery that would become iconic for the band, a logo that replaced the slash in AC DC with a lightning bolt and an artist’s rendering of guitarist Angus Young in a schoolboy uniform as recently as the mid 2010s. Angus was still wearing a version of the uniform on stage. It was meant to be cheeky and AC DC were not shy about being as puerile as Angus’s outfit.
S1: I got in his bio of the band on all music critic Stephen Thomas early on admiringly writes, quote, AC DC were socially maladjusted throughout their career. They favoured crude double entendres and violent imagery, all spiked with a mischievous sense of fun, unquote, early adds. But the band’s then lead singer, Bon Scott, was quite literally labeled socially maladjusted by the Australian Army when they rejected Scott for military service. He also had convictions for some minor criminal offences. But they found.
S2: This proud maladjustment was reflected in his music from jailbreak to big balls, which is about pretty much what it sounds like, but the band’s delinquent lyrics came packaged in legitimately excellent, raw, bluesy musicianship on tracks like 1977.
S1: A whole lot of Rosie AC DC were an efficient, unsparing riff machine. But for their first half decade, AC DC were rejected or ignored by various factions in the music industry, radio programmers, the critics at Rolling Stone magazine, even their own record label. In fact, Atlantic Records refused to issue one of their 1976 albums in the United States entirely. I’ll come back to this shortly.
S2: By and large, AC DC won their American fan base by touring relentlessly. That night was like.
S1: To this point, all of these albums were produced by Malcolm and Angus’s older brother, George Young, and his partner, Harry Vandar. They were the co-founders of the 60s Australian band The Easybeats. The group behind the international 60s hit Friday on My Mind from the Young. And Vandar did a good job presenting a no frills rock.
S6: But executives at Atlantic Records were convinced the band could go from a live draw to a major U.S. chart topper if they worked with a more radio friendly producer reluctant to ditch their brother George and hating the first producer. The label proposed. Malcolm and Angus instead sent a tape of their material to a young South African producer named Robert John Mutt. Lang, who was making his name on British hits for acts like Graham Parker and the Boomtown Rats has calmed down and down the rat.
S2: The pairing of Mutt’s with AC DC worked out rather well for everybody, to say the least.
S3: Starting with 1979 is Highway to Hell album Mutt Lange, the future producer of Def Leppard, The Cars, Brian Adams and Shania Twain produced a trio of LPs by AC DC that changed everyone’s fortunes, including his own highway to hell, broke into the top 20 on the album chart and was the band’s first U.S. platinum album. Mutt had figured out how to condense AC DC sound to its essence and how to showcase the piercing vocals of Bon Scott.
S6: But that’s when tragedy struck just six months after the release of the Highway to Hell album in February of 1980, Bon Scott was found dead of alcohol poisoning at just 33 years of age, understandably considered disbanding. Scott was a celebrated frontman, considered as critical to the band’s image as Malcolm Young’s riffs or Angus’s strutting schoolboy antics, but did not call it a day. Their next album would be a tribute to Bon Scott and ironically, their biggest LP ever. It sported an all black cover, and it opened with funereal chimes of doom.
S15: Hell’s Bells was the lead off track to Back in Black, one of the best selling LP’s in rock history, producer Mutt Lange honed a sound to a diamond hard core. To this day, producers consider it a reference standard for hard rock acoustics, and the band delivered both heavy osity and hooks. The album also served as the debut of a new AC DC vocalist, Brian Johnson, a British singer formerly of the band Jordi. He possessed, if this is even possible and even higher pitched shriek then Bon Scott.
S3: Bryan Johnson became the centerpiece of a new sound, which, frankly, was not all that different from their old sound for an album ostensibly about death back in Black was on the whole, a very lively album.
S2: The band hadn’t dropped the double entendres. Did I say double? More like single entendres such as the strutting Let Me Put My Love Into You, which I am convinced was the inspiration for Nigel.
S3: Toughness, Spinal Tap Anthem. Lick My Love Pump.
S1: More importantly, and this explains why the album continues to sell so well to this day, Back in Black contained a two most iconic songs, The Down and Dirty, Raunchy Dance anthem You Shook Me All Night Long, which you probably heard the last time you attended a wedding band. And the albums absolutely killer Rift Lastic title track, a song so strutting and funky, it was later sampled in more than 50 hip hop songs.
S3: The news that’s coming out of these two singles were undeniable enough to become actual pop hits and each cracked the American top 40. Casey Kasem counted them down this week. The Australian band AC DC debuts at number 39 with their first top 40 hit. It’s called You Shook Me All Night Long.
S2: Although neither song was a huge pop hit, you shook me all night long. Reached number 35 on the hot 100 and back and black number 37 each became a rock radio staple.
S4: By the time Schook reached its peak in November 1980, the back in Black LP had cracked the top 10 and was certified platinum. It would stay there in the top 10 for nearly six months, peaking at number four in December.
S6: Suddenly, the band that Atlantic Records spent the late 70s under promoting was the label’s hottest act, and that’s when Atlantic pulled the ultimate head fake, they went back to the AC DC album they had refused to release in America in 1976.
S5: Finally released stateside in the spring of 1981, that album Dirty Deeds done Dirt Cheap shot into the Billboard LP chart, peaking at number three became.
S2: What made this doubly confusing for U.S. fans and frustrating for the band was the vocals on the five year old Dirty Deeds were by Bon Scott, now deceased. Frontman songs from Dirty Deeds were all over rock radio in the summer of 81, just months after the hits featuring new singer Brian Johnson.
S1: At one point that summer, Atlantic even got his first 1976 album, High Voltage, onto the Billboard top LP’s chart for the first time. So including they’re still charting 1979 album Highway to Hell. AC DC now had four LPs charting simultaneously, and three of them were fronted by late vocalist Bon Scott from Beyond the Grave.
S6: I offer all of this back story to explain why anticipation was so high for a first 1981 album of new material, they were now the hottest hard rock act in America, but they had yet to score a number one album. They had the number for Peking back in black and riding its coattails. The number three reissue of Dirty Deeds done Dirt Cheap Working One More Time with producer Mutt Lang AC DC recorded for those about to rock, we salute you.
S3: And it arrived like a Matrix sequel. In the analog era of the Billboard charts, it was rare for albums to reach number one in less than a month or two for those about to rock did it in just three weeks, debuting within the top 10 in December 81 and leaping to the top a fortnight later. It stayed there for three weeks. Here’s the thing for those about to rock we salute you is a solid, respectable AC DC album. And by the way, it’s got a great title. Rock radio stations dutifully played several of for those about to rock songs, including its title track and quintessentially lood follow up single Let’s Get It Up, which just missed the pop. Top 40 peaking at number 44. But the legacy of this album is clearly overshadowed by its predecessor back and black critics have generally regarded for those about to rock as a three star follow up to a five star classic, it also spent a fraction as long on the charts, 30 weeks total, a solid run, but a pittance compared with back in Black’s epic run.
S6: For the record, Black has spent nearly 450 weeks on the Billboard album chart.
S3: It’s still on the charts as I speak in mid-February 2021, back in Black just sold another 3000 copies last week. Most telling is the comparison between these two albums, Lifetime sales for those about to Rock, We Salute You is certified by the Recording Industry Association of America for total sales of four million copies.
S6: A quadruple platinum album is more than respectable, but for those about to Rock hasn’t been recertified by the RIAA in over two decades and back in black as of 2016, it was certified for sales of 22 million copies after the RIAA began counting, streaming into their Tali’s back and Black was recertified in 2019 for total sales, plus streams of 25 million, whether on CD vinyl or Spotify.
S3: New Generations of Headbanger’s Discover back in black every year. In short, Back in Black, an album that peaked on the chart at number four has sold about six times as many copies as the number one peaking album that came right after it.
S6: That’s why I named my decree, the D.C. Rule. A few acts have such a disparity between their most beloved album and their chart topping, but shorter lived follow up. What also makes the band ideal for my rule is their sonic consistency. AC DC don’t record ballads, acoustic numbers or anything that leans on electronic beats in the years after back in black. And for those about to rock, we salute you. AC DC stopped working with producer Mutt Lang, but they didn’t really alter their formula much at all.
S1: They kept recording ribald sex anthems like Sink the Pink.
S3: And ball busting anthems like Heat Seeker. When suspense author and filmmaker Stephen King asked AC DC to do the soundtrack for his 1986 horror film Maximum Overdrive, AC DC produced another anthem that sounded like AC DC who made who that album sold especially well.
S4: At the turn of the 90s, as Alternative Rock was taking over the radio, AC DC changed their formula not a bit. Even at the dawn of grunge, their LP, The Razor’s Edge, spent more than a year on the charts and generated hard rock classics like Thunderstruck.
S3: And their biggest top 40 success, the 1991 number 23 pop hit. Money talks. For AC DC, money does indeed talk. It ain’t broke, so they don’t fix it. Over the course of a nearly 50 year career, they have scored 20 platinum albums in America, a dozen of which are multi platinum. And yet, if we add up the sales of four of their five biggest albums, namely Highway to Hell Dirty Deeds, Who Made Who and the Razor’s Edge combined, they don’t beat back in black, by the way, for those about to rock doesn’t even rank among their top five sellers. You couldn’t create a band in a lab more perfect for a chart room than the unfailingly consistent AC DC.
S2: There aren’t many examples of the CDC rule in the early years of the rock era, the long playing album itself was a new medium in the 1950s and even through the mid 60s, singles generally sold better than LP’s. So hit albums were driven by hit songs or even by a hit album cover. One of the most famous LP jackets of the period was trumpet player Herb Alpert’s Smash 1965 LP with the Tijuana Brass, Whipped Cream and other delights.
S6: The album’s sexy cover of a seemingly nude model buried in whipped cream up to her chest helped move millions of copies of Alpert’s LP. But then, more improbably, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass scored four more chart topping albums from 1966 through 68, all of which could be said to be benefiting from the coattails of whipped cream and other delights. Of course, Alpert’s hit instrumental Bopp’s Like Spanish Flea.
S2: Later, the theme to TV’s The Dating Game didn’t hurt. One of these later Alpert LP’s what now, my love, actually spent one more week at number one, then whipped cream and other delights did, but nobody remembers a Tijuana brass album as well as they do whipped cream. So Herb Alpert does broadly fit the parameters of the AC DC rule.
S9: By the late 60s, however, as the charts turn toward harder rock, there were better examples but ruin your measly little world. Are you trying to prove that you’re made out of gold and.
S15: So are you saying that if I asked you to name Jimi Hendrix’s only number one album, you would likely guess are you experienced the 1967 LP that came out just as his searing performance at the Monterey Pop Festival made him a cultural phenomenon, and it was a hit eventually. Are you experienced? Took several months to crack Billboard’s top 10 and more than a year to reach its eventual peak of number five in the fall of 1968.
S2: By that time, Hendrix had also released two other albums, Axis Bold as Love, a number three hit in early 1968, and the album that would finally bring him to the top of the chart, Electric Ladyland. It included Hendrix’s only Top 40, hit his cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower.
S16: There must be some kind of.
S1: More than 50 years later, all three of these Hendrix albums are highly regarded by critics and fans, but the most acclaimed and the best seller is Hendrix’s debut.
S6: Are you experienced? It’s certified quadruple platinum, about four times as much as it’s to follow ups, arguably over its long run on the charts. Are you experienced set up Electric Ladyland for its eventual chart topping success? A pretty good example of the AC DC rule. In effect, a contemporaneous example was the power trio of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, a.k.a. Cream Cream’s breakthrough album. And to this day their best seller was 1967 Disraeli Gears, which peaked at number four in the summer of 1968. It took 30 weeks to reach that peak on the Billboard album chart, and the album spawned the top five hit Sunshine of Your Love and Benway.
S5: Not long after Disraeli Gears reached its peak cream, issued their follow up Wheels of Fire, that album took only five weeks to top the Billboard chart, benefiting from the long climb of Disraeli gears.
S2: And it, too, spawned a top 10 single with the number six hit white. In the white room with black curtains in the stage.
S5: This is often the pattern, a rapidly chart topping follow up to a slower growing predecessor, and the pattern holds even when both LPs go to number one, which was the case in 1971 for the chart dominating singer songwriter Carole King.
S2: I feel could move on the.
S5: If you know anything about Carole King, surely you know, her album Tapestry was a smash 15 weeks at number one multiple hit songs, including a chart topping, double sided single, It’s Too Late and I Feel the Earth Move the Grammy for album of the year and eventual sales in the U.S. alone of 10 million copies for most of the 70s until the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack surpassed its tapestry, ranked as America’s biggest selling album of all time. Yeah.
S2: What is less well remembered decades later is that Carole King scored two number one albums in 1971 and the second one opened much, much bigger than Tapestry and.
S5: The later album was called Simply Music, this song, Sweet Seasons was its only single and eventual number nine hit, striking while the iron was hot. King recorded music in the late summer of 71 while Tapestry was still in the middle of its long run on top. She used the same studio as Tapestry, the same producer and many of the same musicians. Frankly, you could well call this album Tapestry Part two or Tapestry Reloaded or Tapestry Dead Man’s Chest. Even the album cover has the same homey domestic vibe and sun dappled glow as its predecessor. It looks rather like Carole King climbed down from the window on tapestries cover, walked 10 feet to the other side of the room, sat down behind a piano and took another photo. But the two albums were greeted very differently when Tapestry arrived in the spring of nineteen seventy one, Carole King was unproven as a performer, even as it became her first LP to crack the Billboard album chart.
S6: When it debuted at number 79, Billboard misspelled King’s name. Carol lacked its closing e. The album climbed steadily, taking about a dozen weeks to finally reach number one.
S9: Whereas when King released music on the last day of November 1971, it debuted on the chart. Just a week and a half later, it shot into the top 10 immediately and it was number one for the week ending January 1st, 1972, reflecting blockbuster sales just before Christmas of 71. Frankly, as near impossible as this was in the days before computerized charts, music probably should have debuted at number one because reportedly music sold one point three million copies on its first day. This is an additional dimension to my D.C. rule number one albums, even by the same superstar, are not created equal.
S2: A slow building chart topper might lead to an explosive sequel, but the real test of an act’s popularity is if they can follow a slow growing hit album with a smash. That sounds like it should never have been a hit. Like maybe a progressive rock jazz fusion group whose frontman plays the flute. Meet Jethro Tull.
S5: Led by singer, guitarist and flutist Ian Anderson, this five man group from Blackpool named for an 18th century British agriculturalist Jethro Tull, who invented the seed drill, broke fairly quickly in their native UK in the late 60s, but they took several years to become a hit act in America. Jethro Tull finally cracked the U.S. top 10 with their fourth studio album, Aqualung, whose title track became an album oriented rock radio standard thanks to one very memorable guitar riff and a.
S17: Sitting on a park bench.
S5: How famous is that riff, if you’re too young to remember Jethro Tull first hand, but you’re old enough to have seen the 2004 Will Ferrell comedy Anchorman, it’s the riff that 70s swinger Ron Burgundy drops into the middle of his epic jam on jazz flute.
S9: Aqualung, the album took only a month to hit its peak of No.7, Jethro Tull had been building a U.S. following on the road and there, prior to LPs, had both cracked the top 20 aqualung remains. Jethro Tull, top global seller and in America is certified triple platinum. But Jethro Tull have two American number one albums, and both of them are considerably weirder than Aqualung and thick as a brick.
S2: Thick as a brick, Jethro Tull 1972 LP contains no individually titled songs, it was conceived and recorded as one 44 minute piece of music titled Simply Thick as a Brick and broken into two parts to accommodate the sides of a vinyl LP. The album was fully progressive or prog rock rather than conventional album Rock. And in a kind of inside joke, Ian Anderson claimed to have co-written the LP with a fictitious eight year old schoolboy named Gerald Bostock. And yet, despite this affected anti commercialism and thanks to the fan base Tul had already built with Aqualung Thick as a brick hit number one on the album chart in just three weeks, their geeky gambit worked so well.
S3: Toll did it again the next year and the.
S5: A passion play was also one long track broken into two LP sides, and it two topped the album chart. In 1973, Jethro Tull had built a brand as heady, mystical but uncompromising prog rockers and consumers rewarded them for it. And yet you are far likelier to hear songs from Aqualung on classic rock stations than anything from thick as a brick or a passion play in general.
S2: The 70s was a strong period for slow growing smashes, followed by instant, improbable blockbusters. And you didn’t have to be a flute playing prog rocker to score.
S1: This is the Cat Stevens song you’re likely to hear on the radio today in a typical week, Wild World is played on U.S. terrestrial radio about 500 times in early 1971.
S2: It peaked at number 11 on the Hot 100 and became Cat Stevens American breakthrough after years as a UK hit maker and even a teen idol. Only when Cat Stevens switched to introspective folk pop. Did he cross over across the Atlantic. Wild World came from Tea for the Tillerman, Cat Stevens first U.S. Top 10 album. It reached number eight in April 1971.
S1: And so Stevens moved quickly to record a similarly styled follow up on train sound. Not now that this big.
S5: The peace train came from Tizer and the fire camp released just six months after its predecessor peaked like Tea for the Tillerman Teaser and the Fire Cat had a whimsical cartoon like cover and gentle folk pop melodies. The two albums looked and sounded like companions. Fire Cat was also packed with hits.
S2: Stevens cracked the Hot 100 Top 10 with both Peace Train, a number seven hit and Mourning has broken his adaptation of an early 20th century Christian hymn, which reached number six Morning Hasbrouck.
S7: Like the first morning.
S2: Thanks to these hits, Tizer and the Fire QCAT reached number two on Billboard’s album chart in December 1971 after two straight smash LPs and after recording the entire soundtrack for the 1971 Hal Ashby cult classic movie Harold and Maude. Don’t be shy. Just let your feelings. Or nobody will know. Cat Stevens was basically poised to top the charts in 1972 with whatever he did next, and that’s exactly what happened, even though the next LP wasn’t quite as hip packed and capable man half asleep, didn’t even wake up again.
S5: Cat Stevens band mate Alan Davies later revealed to Billboard book of number one albums author Craig Rosen that by 1972, Cat had run out of his backlog of folk pop material that had supplied songs for both Tea for the Tillerman and Tizer and the Fire cast. So Stevens wound up writing from the road and it showed on his next LP, Catch Bull at four, named after one of Buddhism’s 10 Bulls of Xen and featuring Asian imagery on its LP jacket. Catchable at fores material was pleasant but not as memorable as the hits on its two predecessors. The piano based song Sitting stalled at number 16 on the Hot 100 and another single, The Lurching Can’t Keep It In didn’t chart at all.
S19: I can keep.
S5: Can in a can not to blame, but Cat Stevens was clearly on an unstoppable hot streak, catchable at four, topped the album chart anyway, his only number one album in November 1972.
S9: Five decades later, Cat Stevens, two best selling studio LPs remain Tea for the Tillerman and Tizer and the Fire Cat. Each of them certified triple platinum catch bullet for the chart topper, has sold about one third as much. Now I’ve played you AC DC Rule examples from the worlds of singer, songwriter, pop, electric blues and prog rock.
S1: How about some late 70s air guitar worthy arena rock? Don’t Look Back is one of the biggest hits by the band Boston, brainchild of guitarist Gearhead and studio wizard Tom Schulze in 1978. As Casey Kasem notes here, while counting down this song on American Top 40, Boston were a big enough band to eject a very popular album from number one on the album chart.
S20: The soundtrack from the movie Grease has been evicted. The brand new number one album in America this week is Don’t Look Back and at number eight this weekend at 40 with a title song from that album here is Boston.
S21: If you’re a decade or two younger than me, don’t look back.
S5: The song might not be a two, you know, all that. Well, I heard it plenty on Ayoade stations growing up, but it doesn’t get much oldies airplay these days.
S9: But that combination of power chords paired with Brad DOPs high pitched vocals might sound vaguely familiar.
S15: Where have you heard that sound before? Oh yeah, here. The immortal, more than a feeling a number five hit in 1976, was from Boston’s first album, their self-titled 76 debut, though the Boston album never went higher on the LP chart than number three.
S5: It’s their all time blockbuster certified by the RIAA for sales of 17 million copies because, well, duh, like young people with Back in Black or you shook me all night long, new generations of upstart rockers fall in love with more than a feeling year in and year out.
S15: Boston, the 1976 album Road, the Billboard album chart for 137 weeks, more than their other five studio LPs combined, it has also sold more than all of those albums combined.
S5: And that includes Don’t Look Back, Boston’s first number one album that is certified SEP tuple platinum, a stellar sales figure, but still 10 million short of their first LP, which has more than a feeling on it. Case closed. The AC DC rule strikes again.
S1: While we’re in the late 70s, let’s go back to an artist I covered extensively last year on Hypponen, the things you might have known, only the good die.
S5: If there’s one LPI, most Billy Joel fans will take to their special island, it’s the Stranger. As I noted in last April’s episode about Joel other than his greatest hits collection, this 1977 LP is easily Billy Joel’s top seller, Certified Diamond, for sales of 10 million copies and packed with hits including Only the Good Die Young and his Grammy winning ballad, Just the Way You Are.
S1: I’ll take the bad times. I take you just the way you are, the stranger took about five months to climb the album chart, peaking at number two in February 1978.
S2: Its follow up, issued later that year, didn’t wait remotely that long to reach its peak. Well, we could generate a lot of heat.
S5: Joel’s jazzy LP, Fifty Second Street benefited hugely from the breakthrough made by its predecessor, 50 Second Street, vaulted to number one on the album chart in just four weeks.
S2: It also gave Joel a bigger hit than any of the singles from The Stranger. The three week number three Smash My Life.
S22: Because I’m all right.
S5: Joe would later have several more number one albums, including glasshouses Storm Front and River of Dreams. But Fifty Second Street was the LP that first brought Billy Joel to number one.
S9: It sold seven million copies and one Joel the album of the year Grammy in early 1980. That same year, another songwriting troubadour would score his only number one album, but not with any of the songs you might think of when I say his name.
S5: Jackson Browne has written and or recorded several big hits. Doctor My Eyes Somebodies Baby, the oft covered classic these days. He even co-wrote the Eagles breakthrough hit Take It Easy. And this single Running on Empty, a number one hit in 1978, was the title track from Brown’s biggest selling album, eventually certified SEP tuple platinum.
S9: By 1980, two years after running on empty peaked at number three on the album chart. There was heavy anticipation for Jackson Brown’s next LP called Hold Out, which explains how this happened in September of that year.
S20: The man who currently has the number one album in the country this week, Jackson Browne, and here he is at number 19 in our countdown with his latest single, Gulabi. Down on the boulevard, they take it to.
S5: It might seem a bit odd for Casey Kasem to announce that the number one album in the country that week had spawned a hit that had only reached number 19. Indeed, Boulevard went no higher than number 19 to stay, you wonder, but anyway. And no other single from Brown’s holdout LP Cracked the top 20 Pulled Out is not the first album Jackson Brown fans reach for in a career that’s included such LP’s as Late for the Sky and The Pretender.
S9: But thanks largely to the coattails of running on empty holdout became Brown’s only chart topper.
S1: And speaking of coattails, the best shot at best.
S5: Powerhouse vocalist Pat Benatar spent years building toward her success at the turn of the 80s. Each of her first two LPs took months to peak on the charts, including her 1979 debut in the Heat of the Night and the 1980 follow up Crimes of Passion. By the end of 1980, Bennetta had finally scored her first ever top 10 hit the classic Hit Me With Your Best Shot.
S2: Crimes of passion was deep with hits including Hell is for Children, Treat Me Right and You Better Run a song whose video famously was the second ever video played on the new upstart cable channel, MTV, in 1981.
S9: By early 81, crimes of passion had risen to number two on the album chart and stayed there for a month in total, it rode the top 10 for about six months, by the way, the same period that back in black was knocking around the top ten. But crimes of passion never went all the way for the five weeks it peaked in the runner up slot.
S5: It was behind John Lennon’s posthumous number one album with Yoko Ono Double Fantasy. With music and the charts, timing is everything, losing out to Lennon in the weeks just after his tragic murder was understandable for Bennetta.
S2: On the other hand, when she finally did score a number one LP just six months later, even she admitted it was a fluke.
S5: Precious time, according to Pat Benatar herself, was not her best work. A video was produced for the album’s title track, but it wasn’t promoted to radio.
S2: The album did produce top 40 hits with the songs Fire and Ice and my personal favorite Promises in the Dark.
S5: Quote, We made that record too soon, the BENNETTA told Craig Rosen for the Billboard book of number one albums.
S9: As if articulating the very premise of my AC DC rule, Bennetta continued, quote, I really think Precious Time went to number one on the strength of crimes of passion. That’s the record that should have gone to No. One, unquote. The Precious Time LP did go double platinum, but that was half the sales of the quadruple platinum crimes of passion. Bennetta then spent the next half decade scoring much bigger pop hits, including my wife’s karaoke favorite 1982 number 13 hit Shadows of the Night.
S2: Everybody’s favorite self empowerment jam, 1983, number five hit Love Is a Battlefield. And 1984 is delicate, but rocking mid tempo ballad We Belong Another Number five.
S1: But none of these songs, respective LP’s get nervous. Live from Earth or Tropico came close to the album charts, number one spot.
S9: As with Cat Stevens or Jackson Browne, Pat Benatar was only chart topper. Precious Time is an atypical representation of her hit packed career. At least Bennetta did get to number one with the most beloved lineup of her band, including her husband, guitarist and songwriter Neil Giraldo, and her longtime drummer, Myron Grumbach. By contrast, spare a thought, if you will, for the legendary band whose most celebrated lineup never could top the album chart in their heyday. Their whole career is one long data point for my AC DC rule.
S1: The original lineup of Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen, drummer Alex Van Halen, bassist and backing vocalist Michael Anthony and flamboyant frontman David Lee Roth built an impressive upward streak with their early albums. Each LP rose just a little higher on the charts after their self-titled 1978 LP peaked at a modest number 19. They improved on this with Van Halen to the album with their first major pop hit Dance The Night Away. Van Halen to cracked the top 10 in 1979, peaking at number six, the pattern continued with 1980s women and children first, which matched that number six peak and 1980.
S6: Fair warning reached number five.
S1: One year later, Van Halen scored their biggest pop hit to date. To me, their cover of Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman reached number 12 on the Hot 100 in April 1982 and within a few weeks, its accompanying album, Van Halen s fifth LP Diver Down, climbed all the way to number three.
S6: Then later, in 1982, Van Halen guitar God would record a guest performance that would increase the band’s pop profile exponentially.
S1: Beat it from. Of course, Michael Jackson’s thriller reached number one in the spring of 1983 with its face melting solo from Eddie Van Halen. The song put his tappin guitar style on top of the Hot 100 for the first time.
S6: Interestingly, 1983 was the first year since Van Halen s breakthrough that the band didn’t release a new LP. They saved up their firepower for a new album that one year later would give Van Halen a number one song of their own.
S1: We’ve talked about the chart topping jump on prior episodes of Hit Parade, the first metal or metal adjacent song to top the pop chart and Van Halons, first song composed primarily on synthesizer Jump anchored the album 1984. Van Halen s most hit packed LP in the months after jump topped the Hot 100, 1984 spun off to more top 20 hits in.
S6: I’ll Wait.
S14: And Panama.
S1: By all rights, that 1984 should have been Venezuelan’s first ever number one album, but it didn’t get there. And I mentioned the reason why.
S6: Just a few moments ago, Thriller, Venezuelan’s sixth album, spent three weeks stuck behind Michael Jackson’s blockbuster, an album on which, ironically, Eddie Van Halen played a key role in total 1984 spent five weeks at number two for two more of those weeks. It was stuck behind the soundtrack to the movie Footloose. Of course, given the pattern for Van Halen to date, each album steadily charting a bit higher than the last one, the only place to go from here was number one. And that’s exactly what happened, except something big happened to Van Halen before they got there, Willie.
S3: I am.
S1: In 1985, David Lee Roth, after years of feuding behind the scenes with Eddie Van Halen, went solo, scoring a number three hit with his cover of The Beach Boys California Girls. Roth announced he was forming a backing band of his own, making his split from Van Halen official and Van Halen.
S2: They found a new lead singer and moved on, not unlike AC DC after Bon Scott, minus the tragic death, although some Van Halen fans did mourn the passing of the old Van Halen.
S1: Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen for their 1986 album, 51 50, which, by the way, was named after the California police code for a mentally disturbed person.
S6: It became van halons first ever chart topping LP in April 1986. For old school VH fans, it was a bitter pill that the band hadn’t scored a chart topping studio album with David Lee Roth fronting them.
S2: One could argue, as per Mirrool, that record buyers were belatedly rewarding Van Hagar for the streak of success by Diamond Dave’s Van Halen. The even greater irony over the next decade, the band issued a total of four studio LPs fronted by Hagar, and all four of them were number one albums, including 1988. Oh, you ate one too.
S5: Come on, baby, finish what you started in 1990. Ones for unlawful carnal knowledge.
S3: And nineteen ninety five ballots.
S1: One interesting chart footnote after Sammy Hagar left Van Halen in the mid 90s, the band did score one more chart topping album with David Lee Roth singing.
S6: But it wasn’t a studio album.
S1: And for fans of the Roth led version of Van Halen, it turned out to be kind of a tease. Van Halen reunited temporarily with Roth in 1996 to record two new tracks for a greatest hits album. One of them me was Magic, was even promoted to radio and topped Billboard’s rock chart.
S2: Unfortunately, the unveiling of this mini reunion at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards did not go well.
S23: No, no, no. Instead of the best award thing, we have to make an announcement. Just we have to address a subject here. This is the first time that we’ve actually stood on stage together in over a decade.
S2: Onstage at the VMAs, a cocksure David Lee Roth behaved as if his reunion with the band was inevitable. Eddie Van Halen did not appreciate Roth’s presumptuousness, and they nearly came to blows backstage.
S6: The return of wrath was over before it began. The Van Halen brothers later claimed they’d never promised Roth a permanent reunion. Two months after the disastrous VMAs curfuffle.
S1: Van Halen is best of Vol. one, entered the album chart at number one. That made it the only chart topping Van Halen album with David Lee Roth singing lead in the final two decades before Eddie Van Halen death, the band would reunite with Roth for a pair of tours and one last studio album. But that disc, 2012, is a different kind of truth.
S6: Peaked at number two, by the way, Van Halen last three No. One albums debuted at number one. That’s because it was the 90s. And as I have discussed in several prior hit parade episodes, the Billboard charts had by then been rewired with SoundScan data. This not only made the charts more accurate, it meant that High debuts, even number one debuts became routine, which also meant that examples of the AC DC rule became commonplace. The more accurate, finely tuned album chart, now renamed the Billboard 200, revealed how albums were benefiting from the slower success of prior albums. For example, hair metal band Skid Row in 1989. Their self-titled debut generated a pair of top 10 hits.
S1: The number six hit I Remember You and the number four hit 18 and Life. Despite riding the album chart for a year and a half and selling five million copies, the Skid Row album never rose higher than number six. But the band’s follow up slave to the grind.
S4: Debuted on the Billboard 200 at number one, this despite the fact that slave to the grind generated no top 10 hits on any chart and sold fewer than half as many copies as its predecessor.
S6: Was this chart topping success for Skid Row the result of the AC DC rule, where in a mass of gradually acquired Skid Row, fans are now showing up at the record store all at once? Or was it simply the result of a more accurate chart? The answer to both questions was yes.
S1: Or here’s another before SoundScan and after SoundScan.
S24: Example the.
S1: Depeche Mode is top selling album in America and Around the World is their 1990 magnum opus Violator, featuring the top 30 hits Personal Jesus Enjoy the Silence and Policy of Truth. But despite its triple platinum, U.S. sales violator never made it above number seven on the album chart.
S2: But three years later.
S3: Depeche Mode, a follow up album, Songs of Faith and Devotion, entered on top of the Billboard 200. The hits on DM’s 1993 album were smaller, including the number thirty seven hit I Feel You, and the album ultimately sold one third as many copies as Violator.
S2: But the combination of a more accurate chart and yes, the AC DC rule a swelling army of D.M. fans rushing to acquire whatever the band put out after Violator gave Depeche Mode their only U.S. number one album. Once SoundScan was entrenched on the charts, apples to apples comparisons were possible. Pearl Jam dropped their debut 10 in nineteen ninety one after the launch of SoundScan and in a long, steady chart run.
S3: The album eventually peaked at number two in its thirty fourth week on the Billboard 200.
S1: Two years later, Pearl Jam’s second album verses was the most hotly anticipated disc in grunge history, selling nearly a million copies in its first week and easily debuting on top.
S6: By the mid 90s, several albums, broadly in the alternative rock category, were taking their sweet time climbing the charts, setting up a follow up that could consolidate the fan base AC DC style. That follow up would open to monster sales even if it was destined to land in a used CD bin. Years later, in 1995 alone, three acts achieved a chart topping disc.
S1: After a months long climb, Canadian pop star turned rage queen Alanis Morissette, whose jagged little pill took 15 weeks to hit the top nine. South Carolina Roots, rock bar band Hootie and the Blowfish, who’s cracked rear-View took forty four weeks to reach the summit and.
S3: And the Pennsylvania Post grunge band Live Who’s Throwing Copper, took a staggering 52 weeks, a full year to scale the chart.
S2: Once these three slow growing hit makers rang the bell, they really connected, cracked, rear-view and jagged little pill sold 16 million apiece and were the number one sellers of 1995 and 96 respectively. And lives throwing copper, sold eight million, spun off five radio hits and rode the chart for more than two years. Then when it came time in 1996, 97 and 98 for these three chart topping debutants to follow up their respective blockbuster, each probably could have released a disc of Bavarian throat singing and debuted number one. And sure enough, all three did enter on top, ranging from 400 and 12000 copies for Hoodie’s Fair-weather Johnson.
S1: Two hundred and twenty seven thousand copies for lives, secret samadhi.
S2: And just shy of a half million copies for Morris, that’s supposed former infatuation junkie, thank you. In each case, it was the first number one album chart debut for that artist and their biggest sales week ever, but each album fizzled quickly, spending about one third as many weeks on the chart as its predecessor and generating a fraction of the radio hits by the end of the decade, even some of the quirkiest alt rock acts were exceeding expectations. Radio Heads Pathbreaking 1997 album OK Computer took nearly a year to go platinum and in all that time it never got past number twenty one on the Billboard 200.
S1: Is like three years later, when Radiohead dropped their even Stranger album, Kid A, it debuted at number one. I may be the first person in history to compare Radiohead and AC DC and for the record, Kid A is a more highly regarded album than for those about to rock. We salute you. But it’s unthinkable. That kid a my favorite Radiohead album, would have hit No.
S2: One unless the slower growing OK computer had come first. OK, computer ultimately went double platinum in America. Kid a platinum when kid a hit the top in October of 2000. It did so with a respectable two hundred and 7000 copies sold in its first week. But by the turn of the millennium, that was chump change. The Billboard 200 had entered the million selling week era and many of these sales weeks were prime AC DC rule followers. For example, the Backstreet Boys self-titled 1997 American debut album sold over 10 million copies over the course of two years. But it never got higher on the chart than number four. Quit playing games with my. I should have known then in 1999, surprising, absolutely no one Backstreet’s follow up millennium entered on top with one point one million in first week sales.
S25: You are. My five year, the one.
S2: Desire Back Streets rival boy band N Sync also went diamond over the course of two years, but their self-titled debut never got above number two. It’s tearing up my heart.
S26: I’m with you when we are a part of the.
S5: In March of 2000, famously and sinks follow up, no strings attached, opened with two point four million in sales, setting a single week record that would hold for 15 years until Adele’s 25 beating.
S2: These crazy seven figure sales numbers weren’t limited to boy bands, famous boy band antagonist Eminem launched his career in 1999 with the number two piquing the Slim Shady LP, which was triple platinum within a year. My name is White, my name is my name. And one year later, twins. The Marshall Mathers LP opened to a stunning one point seven eight million copies. This was especially a rule like in as much as about half as many people who bought Eminem’s prior disc showed up in the first week to buy the second season on the real Sadio.
S19: You were the same cities on the same day.
S2: Or how about Limp Bizkit, the boy band of rap rock? Like Eminem, Limp had had a great nineteen ninety nine there album significant other debuted that summer to nearly 650000 copies in its first week.
S1: One year later, the vividly titled Chocolate Starfish and the hot dog flavored water opened to nearly twice that number one point five million in week one.
S2: To know these million in a week blockbusters mostly lived up to the hype, Back Streets and INSTINCT’S albums eventually matched the sales of their predecessors. Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP more than doubled the sales of his Slim Shady LP and limps 2000 albums sold about 70 percent as many copies as its 1999 album had. Opening a blockbuster album like this is not unlike opening again a summer movie.
S6: The first weekend is vital, but ultimate profitability will depend on how good sales are in the weeks and months to come. However, like The Matrix Reloaded or The Hangover Part two, some blockbuster albums are heavily front loaded. Perhaps the best example is an eventual million a week seller far removed from either boy bands or rap rock where?
S27: I don’t know why I did come.
S2: I left you by. Norah Jones was the unlikeliest diamond seller of the 2000s, her 2002 album, Come Away With Me, was released by the historic jazz label Blue Note Records. Over the course of the next year, Come Away With Me quietly climbed the charts at a time when Starbucks coffee shops were selling almost as many copies of certain adult friendly compact discs as local record stores.
S27: In my head, the.
S2: I come away with me, took six months to crack the album chart, top 10 and nearly a year to reach no one. About a month later, Norah Jones swept the 2003 Grammy Awards, taking home record of the year for her jazzy hit Don’t Know Why, as well as Album of the Year. Within months, Come Away With Me went from quadruple platinum to a couple platinum. The album was nearing 10 million in sales in February 2004, when Jones, at the imperial height of her music career, finally dropped her follow up CD to a reception like Carole King delivering music in 1971 in the. Feels like home led off by the gentle folk single Sunrise debuted at number one in February 2004 with one point two million in first week sales. This is the kind of number usually reserved for pure pop or hip hop megastars out of the box. The RIAA certified feels like home for shipments of four million copies. Let us see it through. And there it stayed, feels like home remains quadruple platinum to this day, by the end of 2004, about three point eight million of those feels like home CDs had sold, but the bulk of them sold within the first few weeks. The rule struck again. The massive opening of Feels Like Home was a referendum on Come Away With Me for the rest of the 2000s. Norah Jones would continue to score gold and platinum albums, but she never reached those sales heights again. Come Away With Me was one of the last physical CDs to sell as well as it did. Even Adele’s blockbuster albums of the 2010s sold major percentages as digital downloads. However, even into the digital era, the AC DC rule was shaping the way major albums opened.
S1: And our hit parade episode on Lady Gaga, I talked about how the art pop star born Stefani Germanotta rewired pop music in a more dance driven direction at the end of the aughts.
S2: Her 2008 album, The Fame, was a slow growing sleeper hit, selling well over a two year period as it spun off huge radio hits from Just Dance to Paparazzi and.
S1: Gaga even gave her debut a boost by adding an EPWs worth of songs called The Fame Monster to the original The Fame in late 2009 in its 60 second week on the album chart in mid-January 2010.
S2: The album, boosted by the fame Monster Tracks, reached its peak of number two the same week Gaga single Bad Romance was also at number two on the Hot 100 in June.
S1: Then over a year later, when Gagas full length follow up album Born This Way debuted at number one with more than a million in first week sales, it became Gagas biggest chart week ever. But it was also a signal example of the rule born this way, spent far less time on the charts, spun off fewer major hits and sold roughly half as much as the famed.
S2: Also in 2011, the debut album by English folk rock band Mumford and Sons took a similarly long time to peak on the album chart. It reached number two in its seventh chart week, spurred by a spirited performance of the Mumford Single Little Lion Man on the 2011 Grammy Awards. But it was not your.
S16: I really started off this time tonight, my dear.
S15: That performance set up Mumford and Sons second album, 2012 Babble for an explosive debut.
S2: It sold 600000 copies in its first week in September 2012 will be.
S15: In classic D.C. rule fashion, the slower growing predecessor is still the better seller Cyno No More is triple platinum, Babbo only double platinum. But the Mumford’s couldn’t have been too unhappy.
S9: Babille won the 2013 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. One of the strangest chart patterns of the 2010s belong to Las Vegas electro rock band Imagine Dragons.
S15: Their only number one album is the one with the smallest hits.
S3: Imagine dragons are best known for their number three smash Radioactive, which still holds the record for the longest run in hot 100 history, an astounding 87 weeks radioactive came from IDE’s 2012 debut album Night Visions, which peaked at number two on the Billboard 200.
S2: By the time their second album, Smoke and Mirrors, finally arrived in 2015, Night Visions had been on the album chart for more than two years and was certified double platinum. So Smoke and mirrors, unsurprisingly, entered the chart at number one. So.
S1: The strange part, none of smoke and mirrors songs were major hits, its lead off single.
S2: I bet my life peaked at number 28 to other singles, missed the top 40 entirely as per my rule. But even more than usual, the chart performance of smoke and mirrors had everything to do with its predecessor and little to do with its own contents, even stranger. Imagine Dragons started scoring big hits again with their very next album, 20 Seventeens Evolve, which, like their debut, only reached number two. But Evolve generated two huge hits Believer.
S29: And thunder and thunder.
S3: Both of which peaked at number four on the hot 100.
S2: In any case, the crux of my theorem holds each Imagine Dragons album was charting based not on its own hits or lack thereof, but rather the performance of the prior album. Now that we are more than a year into the twenty twenties, I must confess that instances of the AC DC rule are becoming more rare. The rule is driven by traditional album sales and these days the Billboard 200 album chart is driven mostly by streaming. The very idea of a slow growing sleeper hit album is, it seems, disappearing from the charts. You know what hasn’t disappeared from the charts, though?
S4: AC, DC, I mean the band. In the last dozen years, the stalwart group of wild eyed, horny Riffe rockers have scored two more chart topping albums. Yes, in the 21st century.
S2: And yes, that also means that 1980 ones for those about to rock we salute you is no longer a only career. No. One album.
S3: This song, Rock and Roll Train was a chart topping rock radio hit from 2008 Black Ice, an album AC DC refused to put on digital services and that was sold only at Wal-Mart.
S6: It opened to the best sales of a career, selling 780 4000 copies in its first week. And what about that other chart topper? I kid you not. It came out four months ago. Power Up There is a classic title for you. Debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 for the week ending November 28th, 2020. It sold just over 110000 copies in its first week. Not bad for a band of 60 and 70 somethings in an era when few albums still sell much period.
S1: Power ups, first single Shot in the Dark, topped Billboard’s mainstream rock radio chart for five weeks last fall.
S3: The only pity of success in the 20s is under the current pandemic, they can’t do what they do best, perform live.
S6: It’s been about half a decade since the band was able to tour. In the interim, Malcolm Young died after a long illness caused by dementia. He passed in twenty seventeen at age sixty four. Malcolm’s brother, Angus Young, has kept the band going, and when they do tour, Angus still wears the school boy uniform on stage.
S2: Lead singer Brian Johnson has confronted his own health issues stemming from hearing loss on the band’s last global jaunt. 26 Rock or bust tour AC DC invited Guns N Roses front man Axl Rose to cover for the ailing Johnson.
S15: And by the way, the song AC DC played as their final encore every night on that tour, it wasn’t back in black or you shook me all night long or highway to hell or dirty deeds done dirt cheap or money talks. It was the title track from for those about to rock, we salute you, complete with on stage cannons. Maybe the casual fan never bought that chart topping 1981 album, but AC DC is clearly still proud of it and that stubborn consistency is what makes them rule.
S1: I hope you enjoyed this episode of Hit Parade. Our show was written, edited and narrated by Chris Melaniphy. That’s me. My producer is Osia Soldier, and we also had help from Rosemary Bellson. June Thomas is the senior managing producer, and Gabriel Roth, the editorial director of Slate podcasts. Check out their roster of shows at Slate Dotcom Slash podcasts. You can subscribe to Hit Parade wherever you get your podcasts. In addition to finding it in the Slate Culture Feed, if you’re subscribing on Apple podcasts, please rate and reviews while you’re there. It helps other listeners find the show. Thanks for listening and I look forward to leading the hit parade back your way. Until then, keep on marching on the one. I’m Chris Malathy.