Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, and Madonna.
'AMERICAN' MAN IN BLACK
I see that Johnny Cash's "American IV: The Man Comes Around" is holding up pretty well on the country charts. How well did the first three "American" albums sell? Are there any sales figures available for the four albums?
You're right, Johnny Cash's latest, "American IV," is holding up quite well on the charts. His increased sales are due mostly to expanded exposure of his cover of nine inch nails' "Hurt." The track is in rotation at both MTV2 and VH1, and leading modern rock station KROQ Los Angeles is spinning the single.
Thus far, "American IV" has sold 150,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. This week, the American/Lost Highway set is No. 84 on The Billboard 200 and No. 12 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. In the U.S. to date, 1994's "American Recordings" has sold 236,000 copies, 1996's "Unchained" has moved 221,000 copies, and 2000's "American III: Solitary Man" has sold 186,000 copies.
THE LEGEND OF 'LEGEND'
It's been over three years since I read that Bob Marley's "Legend" was selling about 5,000 per week, and to this day, Billboard still has it at 10 million copies sold. Could you please check the actual sale figures?
You're right, Bob Marley and the Wailers "Legend" still sells around 5,000 units per week in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. That brings the Tuff Gong/Island set's SoundScan-era sales to 7.2 million. (SoundScan began tabulating over-the-counter sales in 1991. "Legend" was originally released in 1984.)
Your reference to Billboard listing the album at 10 million copies sold concerns a diamond icon with a superscript "10" that follows the title's entry on the magazine's Top Pop Catalog albums chart. That icon refers to the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) diamond award, certifying U.S. shipments of 10 million of copies. Certifications are not issued automatically; record companies or artists must request and pay for them. The last accounting of "Legend" occurred in April 1999, so it's entirely conceivable that many more copies have been shipped, but the RIAA has not been asked to certify those shipments, which would therefore raise the album's status.
Marley's most recent entry on The Billboard 200 was a hits compilation titled "One Love: The Very Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers." That disc reached No. 60 on The Billboard 200 in June 2001 and has since sold 396,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Greetings, and thanks for providing such a great Web site. I enjoy following the Billboard's Hot 100 statistics. Is there somewhere where one can find unit sales data on singles? I'm just surprised Madonna's "Die Another Day" has not yet gone gold. I'd also be curious how many copies Mariah Carey's "Through the Rain" sold in its opening week (I still love Mariah... the woman can sing).
In order to be certified "gold," the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has to have verified that the single has shipped 500,000 units to retail. Madonna's "Die Another Day" (Warner Bros.) has sold -- according to Nielsen SoundScan -- 167,000 units. She's still a ways off from nearing the gold benchmark. The last time Madonna hit that level was in 2001, when "Don't Tell Me" became her 24th gold single.
Mariah Carey's "Through the Rain" (MonarC/Island) debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles Sales chart this week with 13,000 units. It is her ninth No. 1 on this chart. Carey additionally has 16 gold certified singles, according to the RIAA.