Artists Hopeful About Fall Albums
Wed Aug 28,12:57 PM ET
By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY, AP Music Writer
This fall looks to have plenty of blockbuster releases from some of music's biggest acts
on paper, that is.
Whether Whitney Houston, Justin Timberlake or Santana can
match their previous multiplatinum efforts is among many question marks hovering over the
"It's hard. Christina Aguilera has a new release will that be big?" asks
Mark Hogan, vice president of Trans World Entertainment, which owns the FYE! entertainment
retail chain. "I don't know who it will be, but there always seems to be something
that will come through that will surprise you."
Last year was filled with surprises, not all of them good. There were a number of
disappointments or out-and-out flops from performers who had seemed surefire winners
Macy Gray, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, to name a few.
The industry remains mired in a slump; album sales this summer are down about 10 percent
from last summer.
"I think the trend continues to be one of double-digit decreases in the music
business," Hogan said. "It's still a tough business situation."
The fourth quarter is the most lucrative for the record industry; it's when most major
releases are doled out and most music buying occurs.
This year, among the albums eagerly anticipated by retailers are a greatest-hits disc from
the Rolling Stones, containing four new tracks; Santana's follow-up to his Grammy-winning
"Supernatural"; Faith Hill's follow-up to her multi-platinum 1999
"Breathe"; and a collection of Elvis Presley hits that some believe could be as
successful as the multi-platinum "1" from the Beatles two years ago.
"These are records that will bring people to the record store who maybe haven't been
to the record store in a long time," said Bill Willson, vice president and general
manager of AOL Music.
Other watched-for albums include ones from Jay-Z, India.Arie, Beck, Missy Elliott, Steve
Earle and Craig David.
With seven Grammy nominations this year and a platinum-selling debut album, India.Arie has
become one of the proven sellers on whom retailers are pinning their hopes. The singer
says she's not nervous about sales expectations for her Sept. 24 release, "Voyage to
"That's cool, because then they give a little bit more attention to it," she
Alex Pappademas, an associate editor at Spin, says the fact that India.Arie is releasing
her sophomore album just months after garnering so much attention at the Grammys ( news -
web sites) can only help her.
"I don't think it's ever too soon. Frankly I think most people wait too long,"
One artist who has waited a long time between album releases is
Houston, whose last full studio album was 1998's "My Love is Your Love." It sold
more than 1 million copies but was not as successful as her previous albums.
Since then, Arista Records has resigned Houston to a $100 million contract, but she has
been criticized for erratic behavior and has had to combat rumors of drug use. She took
aim at her critics on the new disc's first single, "Whatchulookinat," but the
uptempo song was panned and poorly received on radio. The as-yet-untitled album,
originally scheduled for September release, is now set for November.
"She's in danger of just becoming a tabloid figure, where what's going on with her
life is eclipsing the music," says Pappademas.
Another Arista Records act, TLC, will also be tested when their disc is released in
November. Their most dynamic member, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, was killed in a car
crash in Honduras. The two remaining members, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozanda
"Chilli" Thomas, have decided to go on as a duo. While some songs were recorded
before Lopes died, the group is also working on new material.
"It's sad, really, but in a way, they're probably going to have to market that as a
memorial tribute album to her, and I don't know if that's necessarily going to fly,"
Aguilera's new disc follows her enormously successful, self-titled debut in 1999. Since
then, she has transformed herself from a wholesome teen-pop powerhouse to a sexier, edgier
diva. Whether that will win new fans or keep old ones remains to be seen.
The as-yet untitled disc is set for release Oct. 29. The first single, described as a
funky R&B song featuring rapper Redman, is titled "Dirrty."
"There's always a sense with these teen-pop people that they are very
micromanaged," says Pappademas. "She seems like she's breaking out and doing
controversial things ... (but) there's always the possibility of a backlash against her,
like, she's trying to be something she's not."
Two other veterans of the fading teen-pop genre also are coming out with albums.
Timberlake of 'N Sync ( news - web sites) and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys ( news -
web sites) are to release solo debuts by Thanksgiving.
Pappademas believes that Timberlake's may be the season's hottest seller.
"There's going to be a lot of attention paid to this, because of all the boy-band
types he seems to be the who will break out."
NEWSFILE: 28 AUGUST 2002