Tuesday 15 January 2013

2012 in the charts

Selling well doesn't get you street cred in the world of progressive rock and what sells well is often very different from what achieves critical acclaim, but it's interesting to look back on the many Yes-related albums of 2012 and see what sold well. OK, what charted well, given we have access to that data whereas we usually don't see actual sales numbers.

The best charting album of the year with any sort of Yes member connection is probably Estelle's All of Me, on which Trevor Horn co-produced one track. The album made #28 in the US and #20 in Australia, although it didn't chart in the UK. The best UK chart performance was #5 by Anthems, an album by Russell Watson (best known for singing the Star Trek: Enterprise theme tune). This includes a cover of "Race to the End", a vocal version of the "Chariots of Fire" theme by Vangelis with lyrics by Jon Anderson. (Anderson put out his own version as a digital download soon after.) Just behind that was The Overtones' Higher, #6 in the UK (Horn produced and performed on 5 tracks). Also making #6 in the UK was the compilation Two Sides: The Very Best of Mike Oldfield (one track from Tubular Bells II produced by Horn).

When Yes and prog fans look back on 2012, those aren't the albums they'll be thinking of, I hazard, but remember all those sales count. That Russell Watson cover and another by Laura Wright (on her album Glorious, UK #52) will have been a significant payday for Anderson.

In terms of albums with more significant contributions from the Yesmen, well ahead is Asia's XXX, which made #69 in the UK and #134 in the US, as well as #36 in Japan and #33 in Germany.  Also notable here are Producers' Made in Basing Street, which made #26 in the UK Indie chart; Trevor Rabin's Jacaranda, which made #19 in the US Jazz chart; and The Prog Collective made #50 in the US Heatseekers chart (a chart for acts that haven't previously made the main Billboard chart). For comparison, Rush's Clockwork Angels made #2 in the US and #21 in the UK (the UK figure is artificially high because the release was split as a fanpack first and then a regular release later), while Fly from Here the year before made #36 in the US and #30 in the UK.

But charting better than all of them was Trevor's son, Aaron Horn. He is one third of Sam and the Womp, whose single "Bom Bom" made #1 in the UK (selling 107,461 copies in its debut week). It was the 42nd best-selling single of the year in the UK (with 372,000 sales). It also made #6 in Ireland, #4 in Australia, #2 in Israel, #16 in Finland, #43 in Belgium, #44 in the Netherlands, #54 in the Czech Rep. and #84 in Romania. Their album is due this year. Here's the video (Aaron's the one with the boombox.)

1 comment:

  1. The charts bring into some focus the difference of the world of the musician and the world of the punter. The punter is rarely compromised – they either choose to buy or not. The musician, however, will make judgements about the benefits some ‘chart action’ will bring if they are asked to play – maybe money, raised profile, tangible success, and further opportunities. Any or all of these benefits is likely to help the professional ‘gigging’ musician happily compromise and play the notes or do the gig.

    Many bands in the prog world, and maybe bands in other musical niches, have over the years developed a different relationship with their punters that sidesteps the charts. In particular, knowing that the charts, radio and media are not interested in such musical niches, such bands are taken to funding their own musical production, selling the products direct to their fans, and if they are a touring band, selling them at the merchandising table at the gigs. Selling their merchandise this way cuts out all the other interested parties who cream off profits – record labels, distributors, retailers, promoters, etc. The modern day charts (for the last 5 years or so) have limited value as a display of commercial success or band profit. All those bands stepping on the Prog Cruises this Spring will be heavily focusing at this time on making sure their merchandise is ready and gets to the ship.

    However, listening to BBC Radio One in the morning taking my kids to school, I’m very aware of just how much prog has given to current popular chart music. Particularly in Scandinavian music production teams whose use of chord progressions, dynamic rhythms, and clever bass work that picks out much of the wealth of music created by the prog legends of the 70, and the subsequent current neo-proggers.