Five (Almost) Write-Offs For Tax Day


When finalizing your taxes, a write-off is a good thing. The more itemized deductions you can tally, the lower your taxable income.

In the music business, however, the term can symbolize a less fortuitous financial situation. If an album fails to yield success upon its release, a label worries that consumers and radio may quickly write it off as a commercial disappointment.

In the spirit of thinking positive amidst one of the most, well, taxing, times of the year, here is a look at five albums in the last five years that ultimately padded artists' and record companies' checkbooks despite relatively low rates of interest from fans and/or radio programmers initially.

(The trend is not new, however. Before Def Leppard reeled off four consecutive Billboard Hot 100 top 10s, including the No. 2 "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and No. 1 "Love Bites," from "Hysteria," the band ushered in its seminal set with the No. 80-peaking "Women." A year later, Paula Abdul watched her first two Hot 100 entries stop at Nos. 41 and 88, respectively. When the third try from "Forever Your Girl," "Straight Up," clicked at radio, Abdul was on her way to becoming idolized as the first woman to notch four Hot 100 No. 1s from a debut effort).

"The Script," the Script

The Irish trio's debut album bowed at No. 91 on the Billboard 200 a year ago this month. First single "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" helped introduce the group, reaching at No. 15 on Adult Pop Songs.

The set would not return to the Billboard 200's upper half, however, until 11 months later, as second single "Breakeven" furthered the band's profile. On the March 27, Billboard 200, "The Script" reached a peak-to-date of No. 64, logging its best sales week yet (9,000). "Breakeven" (fittingly, a term that doubles as a wish of many this tax season) this week jumps 6-3 on Adult Pop Songs and 10-8 Pop Songs. The album has sold 209,000 copies since its release, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The still-humble band marvels at its success. Recalling a conversation with Paul McCartney, for whom the Script opened last year, Mark Sheehan told Billboard, "As (McCartney) was talking, he'd say 'when we were doing the same thing ...' I was, like, in my head, 'that we, by the way ... is the Beatles!' "

"Rated R," Rihanna

The album's opening sales sum could hardly be considered meek: 180,000 in its first frame, making for a No. 4 Billboard 200 debut.

At top 40 radio, however, first single "Russian Roulette" quickly ran out of luck, peaking at No. 21 on Pop Songs. The song's sudden stop marked a contrast to the run of singles from Rihanna's previous album, "Good Girl Gone Bad," which produced seven top 20 hits on the list, including the No. 1s "Take a Bow" and "Disturbia."

The subsequent radio tracks from "Rated R" have since ensured that the set is stocked with multiple chart monsters. "Hard" returned Rihanna to the Pop Songs top 10 (No. 9), while "Rude Boy" lifts 5-4 on the survey this week and spends a fifth week atop the Hot 100. A fixture in the Billboard 200's top 40 in all of its 20 chart weeks, the release has sold 815,000 copies to date.

"Never a failure, always a lesson," reads a tattoo that Rihanna recently revealed on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," a statement echoing her current album's resilience. She told the host, "It's basically saying, it's okay to make mistakes. Just don't do it twice.""One of the Boys," Katy Perry

The seven-week Hot 100 topper "I Kissed a Girl" in summer 2008 was not the album's first single. Capitol Records initially offered the similarly provocative "Ur So Gay," airplay for which the label would've considered a bonus.

"The campaign really started in November 2007 with the release of the video for 'Ur So Gay'," the label's Bob Semanovich told Billboard last year. "We were going for something that was playful and fun, a way to introduce her and get people talking."

When "I Kissed a Girl" followed as the first track promoted to radio, Perry launched a run of three Hot 100 top 10s. No solo female on Capitol had scored a trio of top 10s from an album since Tina Turner in 1985. "One of the Boys" has shifted 1,219,000 units to date.

"'I Kissed a Girl' almost didn't make it on (the album)," Perry told Billboard. "There was some concern at the top, but I just let them sit with the song and they came around. They liked it so much, it became the (first official) single."

"I'm Not Dead," Pink

Pink's fourth album entered the Billboard 200 at No. 6 in April 2006 with more than respectable sales of 126,000, and first single "Stupid Girls" peaked at No. 13 on the Hot 100. When second single "Who Knew" failed to chart, however, it looked as though the album would have trouble matching the success of 2002's "M!ssundaztood," which produced three Hot 100 top 10s.

The fortunes of the aptly titled "I'm Not Dead" album turned with the release of third single "U + Ur Hand," which topped Pop Songs for four weeks. Re-released, "Who Knew" then commanded the chart for three frames. In May 2007, the collection returned to the Billboard 200's top 40 for the first time in exactly a year. It has sold 1,488,000 copies since its release.

As "U + Ur Hand" rose 36-29 on the Hot 100 in March 2007, Jive Records' Tom Carrabba correctly forecasted the album's resurgence. "This single is the vehicle that will reignite the U.S. marketplace," he told Billboard. "We think we have a No. 1 record on our hands."

"Oral Fixation, Vol. 2" Shakira

Shakira's second English-language album faced lofty expectations. 2001's "Laundry Service" reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and included the Hot 100 top 10s "Whenever, Wherever" and "Underneath Your Clothes."

In June 2005, "Fijacion Oral: Vol. 1" debuted and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and first single "La Tortura" spent a record 25 weeks atop Latin Songs.

When the latter set's bookend edition debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 128,000, its start appeared strong. By its fourth week on the chart, however, the album dipped below the top 40, and first single "Don't Bother" fell just shy of the Hot 100's top 40 (No. 42).

The album soared to new heights when "Hips Don't Lie," featuring Wyclef Jean, was added to its track list. In April 2006, the new single sent the set flying 172-98-6 in a three-week span, as weekly sales ignited from 8,000 to 81,000. The song topped the Hot 100 for two weeks in June 2006. To-date sales for "Oral Fixation, Vol. 2" stand at 1,690,000.

(On the eve of April 15, as Americans square away their finances, Shakira is putting her money to the worthiest of causes: the building of a school in earthquake-ravaged Haiti through her Pies Descalzos (Barefoot) Foundation. "We need to think about the future of this country and of how Haiti's children can be useful to their societies tomorrow," she explained. "Education is one of the fundamental tools with which to develop and rebuild Haiti").


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