Keith answers readers' questions on Seal, Grammys, the Police and more!
Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Keith Caulfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEAL THE DEAL
A few weeks ago Seal's "System" debuted at No. 35 on The Billboard 200 albums chart. Since the album was heavily filled with dance music I was surprised to not see it appear on Billboards Top Electronic Albums chart.
Since he hired Stuart Price (who previously worked on Madonna's "Confessions On a Dance Floor" album and his own electronic band Zoot Woman) who is primarily a dance producer, (he) probably intended the album to be considered dance or electronic. Any reason it did not appear on that chart?
Thanks in advance!
Gordon Murray, our Top Electronic Albums chart manager, responds:
Seal's "System" album does not qualify for Top Electronic Albums. Yes, it was produced by Stuart Price, but that fact does not rubber-stamp it for the chart. Seal has a history as a pop artist, and this album's sound is in line with that history. While dancey, the electronic and club sound elements are much more subdued than Madonna's "Confessions On a Dance Floor," and as far as we are aware it is not being marketed any differently than Seal's previous albums.
I was wondering what your Grammy predictions are for the 50th installment of the Grammys. Especially Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year? I am especially interested in what you have to say about Record of the Year since I am Beyonce fan.
The Grammy nominations were full of surprises, as well as the predictable.
I think it was a no-brainer that Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" would get a nod for Record of the Year. Same goes for Rihanna's "Umbrella." Amy Winehouse's nomination for "Rehab" was equally expected, though I'd have to say Justin Timberlake's nom for "What Goes Around" was a minor surprise. What did surprise me was Foo Fighters' nomination for "The Pretender."
What was missing in the Record of the Year category? One tune that immediately jumps to mind is Kanye West's "Stronger."
I think Beyonce has the best shot at winning this category. She's a 10-time Grammy winner and all of those awards have come in only the past seven years. The inescapable "Umbrella" could give "Irreplaceable" a run for its money. Or, they could split the vote and "Rehab" could triumph.
For Album of the Year, we have sets from Foo Fighters ("Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace"), Vince Gill ("These Days"), Herbie Hancock ("River: The Joni Letters"), Kanye West ("Graduation") and Amy Winehouse ("Back to Black"). I think only the latter two were obvious choices for this category, while the rest were all clear surprises. I thought Bruce Springsteen's "Magic" or Paul McCartney's "Memory Almost Full" both had a chance in this category. Springsteen ultimately got four nominations, including Rock Album, and McCartney nabbed three noms, including one for Pop Vocal Album.
But who will win the Album of the Year category? Grammy likes to honor established legends, so this could be Hancock's year. Or, Gill's adventurous and expansive "Days" album could come out of left field and take the award. I think my money would be on West to finally grab his Album of the Year award. He's been nominated twice previously for his first two albums.
Of course, there is always Winehouse's well-received "Back to Black" that could swipe the trophy from West. I can only imagine the tantrum West might throw at the show next year if that happens.
The Song of the Year category is tricky. The award will sometimes go to a ballad or a mid-tempo number and it doesn't have to be a hit either. So just because you were No. 1 on the Hot 100 (that means you "Umbrella" and "Hey There Delilah"), that doesn't mean everything. Country songs are also favored here, as noted by the inclusion of "Before He Cheats." It never fails to go with the year's bright new talent, this time in the form of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab." Or, even last year's bright new talent, in the form of Corinne Bailey Rae's "Like a Star." Don't count Bailey Rae out. She may just swipe the award out of Winehouse's hands.
Winehouse likely has the Best New Artist award locked up too. That is, unless country darling Taylor Swift doesn't end up winning. The latter has been on a roll lately, having recently won the CMA Horizon Award. The other Best New Artist nominees this year are Feist, Ledisi and Paramore.
OFFICIAL POLICE BUSINESS
With the North American leg of the Police's reunion tour having concluded, I was wondering what affect the tour had on their back catalog.
Can you let me know how many additional units each of their five officially released studio albums, and their greatest hits album, moved this year? Can you also let me know what the overall SoundScan numbers are for each of these albums.
This year, through the week ending Dec. 9, the Police had sold 645,000 albums in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan. Of that, 318,000 can be attributed to its new self-titled greatest hits package that came out over the summer. So, that leaves 327,000 sold of its remaining catalog this year.
In 2006, the entire Police catalog moved 148,000.
I'll refrain from listing all of the sales information for the Police. However, all told, since 1991, the band has shifted 5.5 million albums in the U.S.