It’s good news, bad news for Bob Dylan, bad news for John Legend and Beyonce, and no news for Neil Young on this week’s pop charts.
Bob Dylan’s “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” a superior album, sold 57,000 CDs and downloads, had little streaming, and finished at number 2 overall for the week. As far the sales of the former, he finished at number 1. But 57,000 is a very low number, and half the amount his 2012 release sold. Does it matter? No. Dylan’s a genius, a legend, and “Rough and Rowdy Ways” is A plus.
“Rough and Rowdy Ways” comes to us from Sony’s Columbia Records, which also released John Legend’s “Bigger Love” this week. “Bigger Love” is an unmitigated disaster, selling 12,550 copies according to hitsdailydouble.com and Buzz Angle Music. You can’t say “Bigger Love” didn’t have a marketing push. Legend had his TV special and he is literally everywhere. He is omnipresent, ubiquitous in the culture.
But “Bigger Love” is not good. It’s a throwaway. It has no singles of any merit. Clive Davis would never have released it. John Legend is so talented, I expected better from him. He is drifting into the land of Mantovani. These songs have no hooks, no choruses, and no pizzaz. The opening track is a riff on the Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes for You.” How old is John Legend? 75? Who is this album for? His grandmother? (And listen, I love the Flamingos. But they are a generation and a half older than me. Kids never heard of them.)
Columbia also has Beyonce’s “Black Parade,” which I wrote about this morning. An excellent single, but it’s a dud sales and radio wise. She dropped it, and Sony Music didn’t pick it up and run. It’s one of many Black Lives Matter-centric songs that are being ignored by the market.
Over on Reprise, Neil Young, the west coast Bob Dylan, released his unreleased 1975 album, “Homegrown.” It sold 22,000 copies, which is a lot now for Neil Young, who’s turned archive releases into a business. “Homegrown” will have a life among Young fanatics. But it’s like a sketchbook, not a fully realized album, and I liked Linda Ronstadt’s version of “Love is a Rose” better. I also like Neil’s “Comes a Time” a lot better, from the same era. Anyway, Neil is like Bob and Paul Simon and Bonnie Raitt. He’s forever.