Saturday, July 04, 2009

Billboard Denying HIStory

I always liked how Michael Jackson named an album HIStory because it is the story of his career. The album HIStory is not the one that is being denied, but instead, Michael Jackson’s history is being obscured by a rule that won’t actually help anyone.

There have been times in the past when an artist has two albums that hold the top two positions on the Billboard 200 list. This has happened when an artist releases two albums at once. I remember it happened when Guns ‘N Roses released Use Your Illusion Vol. I and II on the same day. I bought both of those albums that week.

I could be wrong, but I think that this is the first time that one artist had the top three positions in album sales in one week. This is history and should be celebrated as a possible once-in-a-lifetime achievement.

The problem is that when you look at the Billboard 200 list, The number one album is listed as the Black Eyed Peas. You may be wondering why this happened. The reason is because Billboard has a rule that prevents older albums from taking up spots on the list.

I understand the thought that they want the Billboard 200 list to bring attention to new albums and new artists, but this is a record that has to be covered up to almost no one’s advantage. I can imagine if a new artist had an album that would have been number one on the list, and that artist would have been pushed down to number two, three, or four. I could see an artist saying, “I would have reached number one had Michael Jackson not died.” But that’s not the situation here.

The Black Eyed Peas album had already reached the number one spot previously. In fact, the highest new album is by Regina Spektor and is ranked number three without the Michael Jackson albums included. To say that Regina Spektor is ranked number three instead of number six is not much of a career boost. She would not have been number one that week, whether Michael Jackson’s albums were included or not.

The Billboard 200 did not include Michael Jackson’s 2008 re-release of Thriller on the Billboard chart for the same reason. When it was re-released to mark the 25th anniversary of the album, it would have been the number two album on the list.

But this could possibly be the only time that an artist would ever sell the top three albums in one week, and to pretend that it did not happen is like trying to re-write the history books.

Why should we even have the Billboard 200 if it is not going to be the true test of album sales? Couldn’t another company be responsible for publishing who really has the most sales? What gives the Billboard organization the right to disqualify real results and pretend that the Black Eyed Peas were the top selling artist of the week?

I think to pretend that history did not occur is a slap in Michael Jackson’s face and an insult to the intelligence of the public. Furthermore, it is a very bad public relations move on the part of the Billboard organization. I will say that they are consistant, because they denied Michael Jackson entry last year with the re-release of Thriller. But this practice by the Billboard organization is wrong and it only makes them look bad in the eyes of the public during a time in which many fans are grieving the loss of the greatest artist of at least the last three decades.



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