Everything lives and eventually, everything will die. You can ask any scientist if this is true and he or she will say yes. From that annoying squirrel that crawls up your tree to those smelly socks on your feet, everything will die … or does it?
Take the legendary British rock band, the Beatles. Sure, the group broke-up in 1970 and granted, John Lennon and George Harrison died. The point is this: the music the Beatles have produced for nearly 50 years is still being listened to by millions. These men are musical icons.
Can musical icons die though? In 1999, the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and KoRn were selling records like the Roadrunner outsmarting the Wily Coyote. All three acts rose to the top and started revolutions. These artists became the mother/father figures in their own genre. Once they emerged to the mainstream, so did groups and singers similar to these breakout phenomenons. The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and KoRn raised the bar in this so-called labeled “pop-culture,” selling out arenas and getting multiplatinum record status. But once those all-star albums came out, future projects couldn’t compare, those later being labeled as commercial failures. Confused yet? Let me try to break it down for you.
A lot of records are terrible, but it doesn’t matter if a particular CD sucks or not. If a CD sells more than 2 millions units, then how can someone say it’s a failure? Are critics saying it’s a failure because a lot of money was spent making it and they won’t make the dough back? That is kind of hard to believe, especially if a record reaches multiplatinum status. Is it a failure because an album doesn’t sell as much as its’ predecessor? Not necessarily. It just means it didn’t sell as well. Still a bit confused? Maybe this will help. Take KoRn’ 1998 release, Follow The Leader. It sold around 6 million copies while their 1999 album, Issues sold at least 3 million. Around 2002, they dropped another project, Untouchables and only 2 million copies were moved. Untouchables was later considered a commercial failure.
Not every album is a success story; every artist will have an album or two that isn’t hot. If you are a consistent-selling talent, then it’s nothing to dwell on, but if you are a one-hit wonder, one bad song could ruin your career. For those who are unaware, one-hit wonders are artists who have a major hit, which everyone talks about, but the next tune they try to make popular just blows up in their face and the talent falls off the planet. Remember Hansen? They came out with that memorable (and somewhat annoying) jingle, “MMMBop.” Everybody ate them up like devil’s food cake! These three boys were adolescents whom had a good tune and long blonde hair. They were on top of the world for a year … before the public got tired of them. Their next effort raised less money than a lemonade stand. Hansen joins the list of classic 90’s one-hit wonders the Cardigans, Billy Ray Cyrus, Skee-Lo and Chumbawumba, all of which are true commercial failures.
One-hit wonders die, but do music icons? I’m still trying to figure out whether they will continue selling millions of records of if they’ll die like that annoying squirrel and pair of smelly socks. Maybe I’ll find out later this year as the Backstreet Boys release their first album since 2001. But people, please do me a favor … don’t call multiplatinum success a commercial failure.