You’ll have to forgive us for wondering, in passing, whether the reportage that Madonna is (supposedly) splitting up with husband Guy Ritchie might be in some way a ploy to get people to buy her latest album that no one really cares that much about, Hard Candy. That’s just celebrity fatigue. But it did lead us to a serious question: has a divorce–like an arrest, or a sex scandal–ever really helped a record’s popularity?
One example leaped to mind immediately: Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. As rock-history buffs are all aware, the album’s explicit subject was the group’s three songwriters’ breakups–in two cases, with one another. Even more so, the album’s press played up the angle, including the Rolling Stone overhead cover shot of the band’s five members laying on a mattress together. The songs’ naked candidness gave the audience the chance to reconstruct its own version of the backstage shenanigans. So in that case, divorce (in Christine and John McVie’s case, though not the unmarried Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham) certainly did help the record’s success.
You could probably say it of Sonny & Cher as well, though they weren’t making records together by the time they went back on TV together following their divorce. Still, they were musicians, and their second variety hour, while not a huge success, certainly owed some of its popularity to their ex-couple status. We are, after all, a nation of rubberneckers. So what say you? Are there any other examples worth mentioning? Who are we missing here? Comments, comments, who’s got the comments?