Taylor Swift’s 1989 And Other Famous Fifth Albums

TaylorSwift1979Taylor Swift’s 1989 And Other Famous Fifth Albums

Taylor Swift launches her “The 1989 World Tour” on May 5, 2015 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo.  The North American leg begins May 20 in Bossier City, Louisiana and ends Oct. 31 in Tampa, Florida—a small European leg is going down in June.  In December of 2015, Swift has plans to tour Australia.

Highlights of her upcoming route include Taylor Swift in Philadelphia on June 13, Taylor Swift in Dallas on Oct. 17, and Taylor Swift in Atlanta on Oct. 24.  Her massive world trek, which has the songstress performing in a bunch of huge stadiums, is named after her latest offering, 1989.  It might be hard to believe, especially since Swift turns 25 on Dec. 13, but this is her fifth studio album.

Below, Musicology-101 looks at famous “fifth” studio albums by prominent female singers.  As you’ll soon read, Swift has a lot to live up to because the following six albums are all quite good.  Of course, her oeuvre is selling quite briskly (at least by today’s standards) and critics can’t stop slobbering over it (see Rolling Stone magazine).  By the way, Adele, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Carrie Underwood have yet to release their fifth studio offering.

Mariah Carey – Daydream (1995)

In 1989 Swift ditches the twang of Nashville and embraces pop music (maybe you read about it on Taylor Swift’s Twitter account?).  Similarly, in Daydream Mariah Carey continued her migration away from adult contemporary and to R&B/hip hop.  Daydream produced three number one singles: “Fantasy,” which is the first single by a female artist to premiere at number one on the Billboard Hit 100; “One Sweet Day” with Boyz II Men, which is the longest-running number one single of all-time; and “Always Be My Baby,” which tied Carey with Whitney Houston and Madonna for the most number one hits by a female.  Daydream has sold more than 10 million copies and earned six Grammy Award nominations.

Christina Aguilera – Back to Basics (2006)

For Back to Basics, Christina Aguilera wanted to incorporate jazz, blues, and soul from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.  That really didn’t happened as her final product is a fairly accessible pop/R&B album with a lot of horn samples.  Back to Basics was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album and sold 4.5 million copies worldwide.  Some critics liked the fact that Aguilera tried something new while others thought it was too long.  The double album clocks in at more than 78 minutes.  Swift’s 1989 runs less than 49 minutes.

Britney Spears – Blackout – (2007)

Britney Spears did little to promote Blackout.  All she did was poorly sing “Gimme More” at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.  This lack or promotion is probably why Blackout didn’t debut at number one—a first for Spears.  Despite that, the album went on to sell more than 3 million copies worldwide.  Critics liked it but said her voice was over-processed and questioned whether the credit should go to her or her army of producers.  Even so, Blackout made a bunch of year-end “best of” lists.

Pink – Funhouse (2008)

Pink called Funhouse her most vulnerable album to date.  The opus peaked at number two on the billboard 200, was certified 2x platinum, and earned three Grammy Award nominations.  Funhouse also produced six singles: “So What,” “Sober,” “Please Don’t Leave Me,” “Funhouse,” “I Don’t Believe You,” and “Glitter in the Air.”  The first of those six songs went all the way to the top of the singles chart.  Pink wanted to call this work “Heartbreak Is a Motherf**ker” but her record label surprisingly balked.

Rihanna – Loud (2010)

Rihanna released Loud in November of 2010 and then seven months later she launched a world tour.  The album 1989 dropped in late October and seven months later Taylor Swift will launch a world tour.  That’s pretty much where the similarities end.  Rihanna’s Loud was a return to her dancehall roots while Swift’s 1989 is a complete departure from her country background.  Rihanna’s Loud peaked at number three while Swift’s 1989 debuted at number one.  Rihanna’s Loud garnered decent reviews, produced seven singles, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and sold nearly 6 million copies worldwide.  Swift’s 1989 has received positive reviews but the jury is still out on the other stuff.

Beyoncé – Beyoncé (2013)

Beyoncé’s self-titled, fifth studio album hit the streets with no advanced notice or marketing.  The album was released exclusively on iTunes where it quickly became their fastest selling album ever.  A week later, physical copies hit store shelves (two discs, one CD and one DVD).  Critics loved the work but that’s not saying much.  When does a critic ever say anything bad about Beyoncé?  This is the first album Beyoncé made after the birth of her daughter.

The Who And Their Use Of The Word “Who”

 The Who Hits 50

The Who And Their Use Of The Word “Who”

On Oct. 27, The Who is set to release a compilation album called The Who Hits 50!  The 42-track, double-disc collection contains their greatest hits, rare tracks, and a brand new song called “Be Lucky.”  The name of this ultimate oeuvre is also the name of their upcoming world trek.  Both the album and The Who tour are celebrating the band’s 50th Anniversary.

The Who begins what they’re calling their last tour on Nov. 23 in Abu Dhabi.  It ends Nov. 4, 2015 in Philadelphia.  The North American portion of their odyssey kicks off April 15, 2015 in Tampa.  Highlights of their “Amazing Journey” include Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, Boston, and New York City.

I won’t be at any of the above shows but I will be at the Sept. 25 Who concert in Portland, Oregon.  The Who are one of my all-time favorite bands and I’m not going to miss the chance to say goodbye.  I not only enjoy their music, I also enjoy the hilarious wordplay that their name inspires.

“Who are you listening to?”
“The Who.”
“Who?”
“Yes.”
“I don’t know who, that’s why I’m asking.”

It’s silly but it’s always funny.  ALWAYS.

The Who are definitely aware of the fun that can be had with their appellation.  They’ve incorporated it into several song and album titles.  Below, Musicology-101 looks at the seven times The Who used their titular pronoun to name something.

Who’s Next (1971)
The Who Sell Out dropped in 1967 but without a question mark at the end it’s not asking someone to repeat a query (as in “who sold out?”).  The title is just telling us that the band has sold out.  Four years later, the band released one of the greatest albums of the 1970s and dubbed it Who’s Next—the first time The Who really played around with their name.

Originally, the project was called Lifehouse but it was so difficult to pull off that the idea was scuttled.  Instead, the band made Who’s Next, an album comprised of unrelated songs.  Key tracks on Who’s Next include “Baba O’Riley,” “Bargain,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Who Are You (1978)
On the cover of Who Are You, The Who’s eighth studio album, Keith Moon is seen sitting in a turned-around chair.  The back of the chair reads “not to be taken away.”  Twenty days later Keith Moon died of a drug overdose.  Like Who’s Next, Who Are You contains a lot of tracks inspired by the failed Lifehouse project.  Also like Who’s Next, The Who used a lot synthesizers.

In Who Are You, Townshend (who wrote six of the album’s nine tracks) was trying to combine progressive rock with punk rock, two seemingly conflicting genres.  Did he succeed?  Not really, but Who Are You is a great album nonetheless.

“Who Are You” (1978)
“Who Are You” is the title track of the album of the same name (as well as the theme song to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation).  The single peaked at number 14 in the United States.  It’s The Who’s third-highest charting single on the other side of the Atlantic.

The song is based on a real story.  Like the first lyric of the song explains, Pete Townshend did wake up drunk in a Soho doorway, he was recognized by a police officer, and the cop did tell him to get up and go home.  Quite unusual for a mainstream rock album from 1978, “Who Are You” contains two instances of the “f-word.”

Who’s Greatest Hits (1983)
If you’re new to The Who a great place to start is 1983’s Who’s Greatest Hits.  The 13 tracks found on this collection represent the band’s finest work—from “Substitute” to “Who Are You.”  It also contains “Relay,” a fairly obscure track, and the original version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”  Get this album on vinyl.  The Union Jack shirt on the cover is well worth the additional cost.

Who’s Last (1984)
Who’s Last is a live album released in 1984.  It was meant to be the band’s final opus.  It was not.  Most of the album was recorded Dec. 14, 1982 in Cleveland, Ohio.  The performance was billed as the last Who concert in the United States.  It was not.

Who’s Missing (1985)
Released in November of 1985, Who’s Missing is a collection of rare and unreleased Who songs.  Tracks on the compilation include “Shout and Shimmy,” “Barbara Ann,” “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand,” and “Bargain (Live).”  Two years later, The Who released a similar album called Two’s Missing.

Who’s Better Who’s Best: This Is The Very Best of The Who (1988)
Apart from the Who’s Greatest Hits, Who’s Better Who’s Best: This Is The Very Best of The Whois the band’s definitive collection.  It includes several tracks not found on the Who’s Greatest Hits including “The Kids Are Alright,” “I’m a Boy,” “I Can See for Miles,” “I Can’t Explain,” “See Me, Feel Me,” “Join Together,” and “You Better You Bet.”  The Who’s Greatest Hits rocks hard while Who’s Better Who’s Best showcases Townshend’s songwriting prowess.  Again, you’ll want this album on vinyl if for nothing else than the linear notes.

Pieces of Vinyl vs. Digital Music – Which is Better?

Vinyl Records

Pieces of Vinyl vs. Digital Music – Which is Better?

I entered the record store and was immediately bombarded by the sound of Joe Walsh performing live and the faint aroma of mold, mildew, and dust.  I exchanged greetings with the owner behind the counter and then made a beeline to the first row of vinyl records.

At the head of the row resided several dozen vinyl records that just recently entered the establishment’s inventory.  I began to flip through them looking for classic releases and hidden gems.

The Rolling Stones… Exile on Main St.  Gotta have that.

Simple Minds… Once Upon A Time.  Need it.

The Blues Brothers… Briefcase Full of Blues.  Can’t pass that up.

Then I came across this high fidelity album called Do The Hula.  It actually contains a multi-page insert that teaches one how to do Hawaii’s unofficial dance step.  Finally, I came across a record of Sammy Davis, Jr. singing Mel Torme’s California Suite.  It’s a definite must have.

Later that night, I turned the lights down low and procured a cold beverage.  I sat back in my comfiest chair and enjoyed my new vinyl records.  It was musical nirvana.

So I guess I’ve answered the age old question—well, a question that’s at least a decade old—what’s better: vinyl records (a.k.a.pieces of vinyl – thanks baba-booey!) or digital music.

Actually the answer to that query is digital music.  There’s no way around it.  Digital music is ubiquitous, utilitarian, and user-friendly.

Most people already have a computer, laptop, and/or smartphone capable of playing digital music player.  Digital music is cheap, and let’s not be naïve, it can even be free.  Even better, digital music takes up no space and can be played indefinitely.

Depending on how deep you want to get into digital music you can use it for working out, entertaining at parties, and while you’re driving around town.

Digital music wins the head-to-head battle but that doesn’t mean it’s the only champion in the equation.  The true story that began this article could not have happened with digital music.  Vinyl records lend themselves to excitement.

Nothing beats the experience of flipping through a stack of records and finding a piece of vinyl that strikes your fancy.  And nothing beats putting that vinyl record on your turntable and setting the needle on the groove.

There are pops, hisses, and crackles, but those noises don’t distract from the experience they add to it.  They’re charming.  The fact that you have to flip the record over is endearing not an inconvenience.

Then there’s the album cover.  The album is the perfect canvas for a piece of art.  Digital music has no cover, no linear notes, and no inner sleeves.  What do you read while listening to a digital piece of music?  What do you look at?  How do you know who produced the album or who played bass on the opening track?

My love affair with vinyl records isn’t coming from nowhere.  According to Nielsen SoundScan, the sales of vinyl records went from 4.5 million in 2012 to 6 million in 2013.

We are in the middle of a vinyl renaissance.  And why not?  Like I’ve extolled, vinyl records offer a great experience and are a whole lot of fun to listen to.  The format also favors artists who are talented and creative enough to fill both sides of a vinyl record with quality songs.  Digital music is tailor made for one-hit wonders.

The vinyl records Nielsen counted are obviously new releases, or relatively new releases.  The real fun comes when you find that quaint, little record store on some sleepy downtown corner.  Inside are must-own platters from the last half of the twenty century; the more eclectic the better.

You don’t need to subscribe to digital music news to realize digital music is a workhouse and vinyl records are a show pony.  Digital music is the dependable car that takes you to work every day.  Vinyl records are the hot rod you drive on dates.  Digital music is the familiar restaurant where you go for lunch every day.  Vinyl records are the restaurant you frequent every once-in-a-while, you know the type, the one where they set your food on fire.

You need digital music.  You should want vinyl records.

Some audiophiles swear that vinyl records produce a better quality of sound than digital music.  I’ve never had the system or the ears to hear if that’s true.  It really doesn’t matter.  The joy of vinyl records isn’t really the sound quality but the experience.

Vinyl Records & Digital Music Milestones

>>Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877.

>>Twelve-inch records were introduced in 1903.

>>In 1948, Columbia Records developed and marketed the 33 RPM LP.

>>In February of 1949, RCA Victor released the first 45 rpm single.

>>A Japanese-based company sells a turntable that uses a laser to read vinyl discs.

>>On July 7, 1994, the Fraunhofer Society released the first MP3 encoder called l3enc

>>Karlheinz Brandenburg used a recording of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” to refine the MP3 compression algorithm.

>>Winamp was released in 1997 and was quickly downloaded 3 million times.

>>In 1999, the first large peer-to-peer file sharing network was launched.  It was called Napster.

>>iTunes was released on January 9, 2001.

Ten Or Twelve Of The Greatest Stand-Up Comedy Movies Of All-Time

RichardPryorTen Or Twelve Of The Greatest Stand-Up Comedy Movies Of All-Time

Gabriel Iglesias is one of the funniest and most likable stand-ups working in comedy today.  He sells out shows all over the world and his DVDs always threaten the million-units-sold plateau.  That’s why it’s a surprise to learn that his concert film, The Fluffy Movie, opened with a $1.3 million weekend.  As of Sept. 1, the genial funny man’s live performance flick has earned a total of $2.8 million at the old box office.

I think Guardians of The Galaxy earned more than that in its first 17 minutes of release.

The Fluffy Movie was filmed during two Gabriel Iglesias tour stops—one on Feb. 28 and another on March 1.  The movie was directed by Manny Rodriguez and it dropped July 25.  The project was filmed and released in less than five months.

Don’t feel bad for Iglesias or his release.  Despite the seemingly underwhelming returns, The Fluffy Movie is the tenth highest grossing comedy film of all-time (if time started in 1982).  By the way, the list was compiled by the Web site Box Office Mojo.

If you think about it, this is not only one of the smallest cinematic genres of all-time but it’s also on life support—only two of the two dozen films are from this decade.  Not only have YouTube and Netflix killed the stand-up comedy concert film but so has the price of movies tickets.

If I’m going to take out a mortgage to go to the Cineplex, the movie better have at least three dimensions and enough explosions to permanently damage my hearing.  I’m not the only one who thinks like this.  Combined, the 24 films on BOM’s list earned less than $232 million.

Eddie Murphy Raw (1987)
The highest grossing stand-up comedy concert film of all-time is Eddie Murphy Raw.  It made more than $50 million.  At the time, and until 1990, Raw held the record for the most utterances of the f-word.  That iniquitous curse was spoken 223 times.  Now, the movie isn’t even in the top 30.

The Original Kings of Comedy (2000)
The Original Kings of Comedy was directed by Spike Lee and contained sets from Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac.  The film was a huge success making more than $11 million in its opening weekend.  It also inspired a bunch of similar enterprises like The Original Latin Kings of Comedy, The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, The Queens of Comedy, and The Comedians of Comedy.

Anecdotally, The Comedians of Comedy (starring Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Brian Posehn, and Maria Bamford) was released on Nov. 11, 2005.  It was shown in two theatres and grossed $354 in its opening weekend and $549 overall.

Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982)
Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip was the most lucrative concert film of the legendary comedian’s career.  That’s saying something because his 1983 concert film, Richard Pryor: Here and Now, is sixth on the list with $16 million.  Remember, Pryor invented this genre in 1979.  His Richard Pryor: Live in Concert is the first movie ever released that was devoted to one guy doing nothing but telling jokes on a stage.  In Live on the Sunset Strip, Pryor discusses the infamous incident when he was freebasing cocaine and lit himself on fire.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (2013)
Let’s look at the numbers.  Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain grossed $32 million at the box office and cost $2.5 million to make.  His traditional film, Ride Along (2014), grossed $153 million and had a budget of $25 million.  I wonder what kind of movie Hart will make next?  The diminutive comic’s 2011 stand-up film, Laugh at My Pain, comes in at number eight (thanks to $7.7 million in gate receipts).  Let Me Explain was filmed at Madison Square Garden while Laugh at My Pain was recorded at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat (2002)
Martin Lawrence has two stand-up concert films in the top ten: Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat is fifth with $19 million and 1994’s You So Crazy is seventh with $10 million.  Runteldat was filmed at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington D.C the same venue where Eddie Murphy shot his television special Delirious.  You So Crazy was originally rated NC-17. It was then sold to another studio who released it as “unrated.”

Divine Madness (1980)
I’ve mentioned directly, or indirectly, nine of the top ten stand-up comedy concert films of all-time.  The only film I have yet to enumerate is number nine, Divine Madness.  Yes, the one with Bette Midler.  Although the 94-minute film has the Divine Miss M singing 16 songs it also has her performing several stand-up comedy routines.  Apparently, that qualifies it as a stand-up comedy film.  The $5.3 million it earned at the box office qualifies it for ninth place.

Comedian (2002)
If you reject Divine Madness then The Fluffy Movie moves to number nine and Comedian, starring Jerry Seinfeld, slides to number ten.  You can argue that Comedian should be disqualified from consideration because it’s more of a documentary than a performance concert.  If that’s the case then our new number ten is Eddie Griffin’s DysFunKtional Family (2003), which grossed $2.25 million.

Gabriel Iglesias
For the sake of argument let’s not count Divine Madness or Comedian.  If we do then all ten of the top grossing stand-up comedy concert films star minorities.  All but one, Iglesias’ The Fluffy Movie, star African-American comedians.

Also, of all the comedians in the top ten (or 12 if you include Midler and Seinfeld) only Iglesias and Hart are in their 30s.  In fact, everyone but Eddie Griffin (46) and Martin Lawrence (49) are in their 50s.  While many on the list still perform stand-up, all most all are working in film or television.  The only member of the top ten (twelve) that’s primarily a stand-up comedian is Gabriel Iglesias.

Garth Brooks To End Long Retirement With Tour And Album

GarthBrooksconcertGarth Brooks To End Long Retirement With Tour And Album

He’s back!

Garth Brooks is returning to the music industry with a world tour and a brand new studio album.  Both are firsts for the country music superstar since he retired in 2000.

His new tour begins Sept. 4 with a Garth Brooks concert in Rosemont (Chicago).  He has ten shows planned for the Windy City.  After that, Garth Brooks will be in Atlanta.

No word on when his new album will be released, but it’s been confirmed that he’s working on it.  When it does drop, it will be Brooks’ first new collection of songs since 2001’s Scarecrow.

Brooks officially announced his retirement on Oct. 26, 2000.  Yet, the following year he released a studio album and made a few promotional appearances.  That’s why you might see one Web site use “2001” and another use “2000” as the commencement date of his employment hiatus.  For the purposes of this article this Web site is using the 2000 date.

For the most part, Brooks has been relatively dormant during his retirement.  He released a couple of greatest hits collection, signed a deal with Walmart, and launched a four-year residency show in Las Vegas.  He certainly hasn’t been working on GarthBrooks.com.

You can argue whether or not he’s actually been retired but since the release of Scarecrow in 2001, Brooks hasn’t toured or recorded a new studio album.  Touring and recording is what singers do.  That’s why you can say, without fear of incrimination, that Brooks has been retired for nearly fourteen years.

Brooks’ break from making music is unprecedented.  Singers have stepped away from recording and touring for a few years but nothing close to nearly a decade and a half.

Below, Musicology-101 looks at the longest gap between albums for some of the biggest names in popular music.  What the following list doesn’t reveal is that all the singers released their first album long before Brooks’ debut.  Many of the acts on the rundown are from the decade of the sixties and their gaps occurred when they were in their sixties.

Longest Gap Between Albums
>>George Strait… 2 years
>>Madonna… 4 years (went seven years without touring)
>>Neil Diamond… 4 Years
>>Bob Dylan… 5 years
>>Elvis Presley… 5 years (but released several soundtrack albums during that time)
>>Paul McCartney… 5 years
>>Michael Jackson… 6 years (died without having released an album for 8 years)
>>Bruce Springsteen… 7 years
>>Elton John… 7 years
>>Billy Joel… 4 years (although he hasn’t released a rock album since 1993)

Just how long has Garth been on the sidelines?  He announced his retirement in October of 2000 and in January of 2001, iTunes was released.  Basically, Garth’s retirement from the music industry is older than the digital music industry.  He left when people were still buying albums and returns when they’re downloading songs from the internet.

To put the length of Brooks’ respite from touring and recording in perspective, Musicology-101 has put together a list of what was happening in the careers of today’s major recording artists.  As you’ll soon see, some of today’s biggest stars were barely old enough to pick up a guitar when Garth Brooks called a career timeout.

When Garth Brooks retired…
… Justin Bieber was 6…
… Harry Styles (of One Direction) was 6…
… Liam Payne (of One Direction) was 7…
… Louis Tomlinson (of One Direction) was 8…
… Niall Horan (of One Direction) was 7…
… Zayn Malik (of One Direction) was 7…
… Hunter Hayes was 9…
… Taylor Swift was 10…
… Miranda Lambert was 16…
… Jason Aldean was 23 and in between recording contracts…
… Florida Georgia Line was still a dozen years away from releasing “Cruise…”
… Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, and The Band Perry had yet to form…
… Vince Gill had only won 13 of his eventual 20 Grammy Awards…
… Brad Paisley was celebrating the release of his debut album…
… Keith Urban had just released his first solo album in the United States…
… Reba McEntire had yet to star in her own sitcom…
… Rascal Flatts had just one platinum album to their name (they now have seven)…
… Blake Shelton had yet to sign a record deal…
… Toby Keith owned exactly zero “I Love This Bar and Grills.”