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THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Hit Sales Chart – 10/31/05

1. Destiny's Child "#1's"

Sales this week: 113,561

Just for the record, what format were these 16 tracks number 1 on? The fantasy chart of Charlie Walk?

This is a piss-poor number for an act trumpeted as the biggest selling female group of all time. Between this farce and Mariah Carey's statistics real acts like Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin are rolling over in their graves and telling Joni Mitchell the news.

Despite the overhype, I'd expect Beyonce's solo career to follow the arc of Whitney Houston's. As in, one day everybody will look at each other, wonder what they ever saw in her, and her sales will take a dive.

Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.

Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.

As for this being a catalog item… God, if you can only sell 100,000 records in one week most people have ALREADY forgotten you!

2. Nickelback "All The Right Reasons"

Sales this week: 101,380
Percentage change: -21%

I guess their fans couldn't find ENOUGH reasons to buy the same damn album for the third time.

4. Rod Stewart "Thanks For The Memory…The Great American Songbook IV"

Sales this week: 87,548
Percentage change: -53%

And herein we have the power of brand names. Rod's audience is SO old and SO out of it that they'll buy ANYTHING with his name on it. As long as it doesn't disrupt their cocktail parties.

Meanwhile, I heard Rod's cover of Carole King's "So Far Away" on XM today and it reminded me of how good this guy COULD be. Not that he's interested in being good anymore, he's just interested in continuing to be rich and famous. Another great ad for rock stars dying young before they tarnish their images. Really, listen to "Gasoline Alley". It's a REVELATION!

5. The Black Eyed Peas "Monkey Business"
A&M Interscope

Sales this week: 79,146
Percentage change: -14%

From: Zach Davis
Subject: Black Eyed Peas – Are you f..king kidding me?
Date: Monday October 24, 2005 2:29 PM

Are these really the shitty lyrics that are getting played? Is this really what's hip? I almost threw up hearing this song on the radio, and just threw up in my mouth reading the lyrics. Almost as disgusting as music today, huh?

My Humps
by Black Eyed Peas

Album : Monkey Business (2005)

What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps. (Check it out)

I drive these scrubbers crazy,
I do it on the daily,
They treat me really nicely,
They buy me all these ice-ys.
Dolce & Gabbana,
Fendi and then Donna
Karan, they be sharin'
All their money got me wearin'
Fly gearrr but I ain't askin,
They say they love my ass 'n,
Se7en Jeans, True Religion,
I say no, but they keep givin'
So I keep on takin'
And no I ain't fakin'
We can keep on datin'
I keep on demonstrating.

My love, my love, my love, my love
You love my lady lumps,
My hump, my hump, my hump,
My humps they got u,
She's got me spending.
(Oh) Spendin' all your money on me and spending time on me.
She's got me spendin'.
(Oh) Spendin' all your money on me, on me, on me

What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
What u gon' do with all that ass?
All that ass inside them jeans?
I'm a make, make, make, make you scream
Make u scream, make you scream.
Cos of my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely lady lumps. (Check it out)

I met a girl down at the disco.
She said hey, hey, hey yea let's go.
I could be your baby, you can be my honey
Lets spend time not money.
I mix your milk wit my cocoa puff,
Milky, milky cocoa,
Mix your milk with my cocoa puff, milky, milky riiiiiiight.

They say I'm really sexy,
The boys they wanna sex me.
They always standing next to me,
Always dancing next to me,
Tryin' a feel my hump, hump.
Lookin' at my lump, lump.
U can look but you can't touch it,
If u touch it I'ma start some drama,
You don't want no drama,
No, no drama, no, no, no, no drama
So don't pull on my hand boy,
You ain't my man, boy,
I'm just tryn'a dance boy,
And move my hump.

My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump.
My lovely lady lumps x3
In the back and in the front.
My lovin' got u,
She's got me spendin'.
(Oh) Spendin' all your money on me and spending time on me.
She's got me spendin'.
(Oh) Spendin' all your money on me, on me, on me.

What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
What you gon' do with all that ass?
All that ass inside them jeans?
I'ma make, make, make, make you scream
Make you scream, make you scream.
What you gon do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get you drunk,
Get you love drunk off this hump.
What you gon' do wit all that breast?
All that breast inside that shirt?
I'ma make, make, make, make you work
Make you work, work, make you work.
She's got me spendin'.
Spendin all your money on me and spendin' time on me
She's got me spendin'.
Spendin' all your money on me, on me, on me.

6. Ashlee Simpson "I Am Me"

Sales this week: 71,654
Percentage change: -69%

Somewhere John Kalodner is rolling over in his grave. Oops, JK/JK's not dead yet? Well, I guess rock music is.

Some ex-Geffen employee should stand up like the Nazi in "The Producers" and say THIS ISN'T GEFFEN RECORDS! GEFFEN PUT OUT RECORDS WITH CREDIBILITY!

Enough of the media spin. She's over. Screw that first week number. That's just idiot prepubescent girls who didn't get the memo yet. Ashlee's TOAST! (Unless, of course, Jordan wants to spend a ton of money to jam one of these tracks down our throats just to prove he's still a genius.)

13. Stevie Wonder "A Time 2 Love"

Sales this week: 46,540
Percentage change: -59%

Did anybody tell Stevie that this was Prince's act? Using numbers for words?

What if a superstar put out an album and nobody cared…

God, Stevie would have been better off hooking up with Clive Davis and singing HIS version of the Great American Songbook! Cross-promoting it at Starbucks.

This is what happens when you've got nothing left to prove. You think of the audience and deliver what you think people want instead of something that they've got NO CLUE that they want which they embrace upon hearing, like "Talking Book".

Stevie Wonder was the Pixar of his day. He put out three PHENOMENAL albums in a row. FIVE if you want to include "Music Of My Mind" and "Songs In The Key Of Life".

He's just spent.

Does this mean Sylvia Rhone loses her job?

18. Sheryl Crow "Wildflower"
A&M Interscope

Sales this week: 35,151
Percentage change: -20%

The Tour de France, the marriage, all of the ink, all of the hype couldn't sell this record.

I'd say you can't sell a record like this. The system isn't BUILT for a Sheryl Crow. It wants HITS, not meaning.

Instead of playing the game Sheryl should have used her position as the most well-known and credible female rocker to rail against the system. She should have given away MP3s of the songs on her Website. Gotten creaky baby boomers to sign up to be her street team, offering cycling lessons with Lance as a reward. But rather than confront the reality of the situation head-on, Sheryl is just sheepishly playing along. To seemingly no effect.

20. Depeche Mode "Playing The Angel"

Sales this week: 34,745
Percentage change: -67%

Bono could take a lesson from Depeche Mode. That it's all about your base. That to play to the casual fan is only to ALIENATE your base. All that marketing, the iPod, "Entourage", it didn't sell many more records of an act that can't get on Top Forty radio ANYWAY! And, the gigs were sold out, so WHO CARES?

And Depeche Mode sells out. INSTANTLY!

Go to a Depeche Mode gig and you won't see casual punters coming in late talking on their cell phones just to be able to tell all their co-workers they were there. Rather, you'll be confronted with fans and fans only. Having an experience OUTSIDE THE SYSTEM! Experiencing what they consider to be the Holy Grail. I don't know about you, but I don't want to pray with non-believers. Depeche Mode is on a tour of religion. If you don't believe, SCREW YOU!

In other words, don't judge this act by the sales of this new record. Fans will buy it if they hear from fellow fans that it's good. It's only about the fans. And, really, it's just about the tour. And, I hate to tell you, but it's just about the tour with U2 too.

24. Aerosmith "Rockin' The Joint"

Sales this week: 31,999

Isn't it fascinating that Irving Azoff and Howard Kaufman are partners. Because they've got COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MANAGEMENT PHILOSOPHIES!

Compare Aerosmith to the Stones as much as you want, but be clear, the Boston band is America's number one rock act. How can it be that their tours no longer sell out, that nobody seems to CARE!

Mismanagement. They toured SO often that they burned out the fan base/audience. God, ever study agriculture in fifth grade? You've got to let land lay FALLOW! The Eagles last played Los Angeles on New Year's Eve 2000. And that wasn't even part of a tour. They didn't reappear in California for over FIVE YEARS! Every ticket was sold at an exorbitant price. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Aerosmith should be playing clubs. This tour with Lenny Kravitz is ridiculous. Like they share the same fans? Oh, they share the same MANAGER! And, Lenny had to cancel his previous tour because NOBODY WOULD COME!

God, this album should have at least been done in concert with a PBS pledge drive. Couldn't there be some innovative marketing?
This is sad.

32. Melissa Etheridge "Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled"

Sales this week: 24,775
Percentage change: -35%

Actually, this road has been WELL-TRAVELED!

Bill Clinton killed Melissa Etheridge. She used to be a closeted lesbian who rocked as hard as the boys. She had something to PROVE!

Then she became the poster girl for the Big Tent Democrats.

That's not rock and roll.

I'm sorry she got cancer. But instead of smiling everywhere maybe she could channel her angst and rage into some cutting edge rock and roll instead of cashing in for Christmas with her overplayed "hits".

Ever notice that greatest hits albums no longer matter?

35. Gretchen Wilson "All Jacked Up"
Epic Nashville

Sales this week: 24,405
Percentage change: -29%

Nothing like a little overexposure to kill an act.

This is what "hit" business will get you.

Expect to see Gretchen at the state fair soon.

I could blame the media for latching on to something and then burning it out, but really I blame the purveyors, for ALLOWING the media to burn something out. That's the mantra of the twenty first century, HOLD BACK! Multiple impressions is so nineties. Retain a shred of dignity. Know that it's about records, not image, at least if you want to last.

39. Bon Jovi "Have A Nice Day"

Sales this week: 21,387
Percentage change: -28%

Depeche Mode with less rabid fans.

In other words, despite the scorched earth publicity campaign, only the hard core care at this point.

Jon should just charge $300,000 to play people's backyards. Publicized corporate gigs.

40. Franz Ferdinand "You Could Have It So Much Better"

Sales this week: 19,955
Percentage change: -8%

It's not the eighties anymore. It's not like the video of an arty U.K. band can get MTV airplay and cross over to hit radio.

Something like this lives and dies on being a hit. And, there's nowhere it can BECOME a hit!

This would be much cooler if it were on a true indie in the States. Then a hard core would believe. Instead, the trendy cool people don't want anything to do with this.

43. N'Sync "Greatest Hits"

Sales this week: 19,204

And here we have what's wrong with the record business. The real reason sales are down. Everything sold today has the smell of a turd tomorrow. Not even 20,000 kids want to remember the biggest band of five years ago. They're ASHAMED of it!

It's all about building catalog. Which none of today's companies are doing, they're just selling evanescent hits, EXPENSIVELY!

Furthermore, there's nowhere to HEAR most of what they make, since the mainstream outlets air so little.

But really, it's the customer's fault.

Yeah, right.

49. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley "Welcome To Jamrock"
Tuff Gong/Universal

Sales this week: 18,130
Percentage change: -15%

The cognoscenti believe this is the album of the year. Consider yourself warned.

DON'T rail at me for being negative. It's just the early sixties all over again. Trash music waiting to be usurped by real acts.

But today these real acts won't be on the "Laguna Beach" station. And won't be featured on Top Forty radio either. They'll grow from the bottom up. Fans will spread the word. They won't do ANYTHING for a buck.

The major labels are spending too much for too little in return. They've got to reconfigure their business. To be one of singles and doubles by career players.

The only people who care about the above chart are the people on it and "Entertainment Tonight" and the newspapers who print it. Everybody else has tuned out.