Axl Rose And Kanye West To Get In The Retail Ring

Nov 10th, 2008 // 5 Comments

Kanye West’s 808s And Heartbreak had its release date moved up from mid-December during a fit of pique the blog-happy MC had a few weeks back, and now it’s official: Instead of coming out on “NOVEMBER SOMETHING,” the album’s coming out on Monday, Nov. 24. (Ludacris’ Theater Of The Mind and the Killers’ Day And Age are also being released on that Monday.) Some sites have speculated that the release dates are being moved from the traditional Tuesday drop date to Monday as a way to take advantage of the pre-Thanksgiving sales rush, but it’s pretty obvious to me that the real reason 808s is coming out early is to maximize its sales totals in the first full chart week for another high-profile release: Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy.

Axl Rose’s forever-in-the-making opus comes out the day before at Best Buy (thanks to the big-box store’s release week), and while I suspect that first day will see a lot of sales, things will really heat up at week’s end, thanks to Black Friday and its potential for people falling over themselves to score $49 DVD players for their friends and relatives. Who will “win” this battle is a bit up in the air–and much less fraught than the Kanye Versus Fifty Oh My God battle that we devoted so much virtual ink to last year–but I’m going to give the edge to Axl, thanks to the sorta-lukewarm response many self-proclaimed Kanye fans on the Internet have given to the already-leaked tracks, the extremely pent-up demand for this record (it has, after all, been 15 years of silence) and the likelihood that Best Buys everywhere will be filled with huge displays of the record. Now, if Detox somehow got into the mix, the story could be very different…

The best day for music this year? []

  1. Al Shipley

    If I buy either of these albums, I’m going to regret the purchase about halfway through the first listen. At the very least, I’ll probably download or wait to buy Kanye’s, since I don’t to help the first week sales vindicate the terrible artistic direction he’s going in.

  2. Anonymous

    I predict that this album will bomb (G’N'R). It will still sell 1-2 million copies based on the brand name alone but, if the first single is the best they can do in terms of a single, I really doubt this will catch on.

    Other rock bombs that are on the way soon: Hoobastank, All-American Rejects, Fall Out Boy (sorry to say, but it’s not going to reach the heights of the previous two releases) and, though it’s already out, Hinder.

  3. Chris Molanphy

    You (Maura) and I talked about this a few weeks ago, but let me just get this down.

    Long story short, the key question here is: Are pent-up GnR fans obsessed enough to get the album on day one?

    The Sunday release means Chinese Democracy catches the last day of the tracking week for the charts. For the record, Axl’s competition that week is the stuff that came out the Tuesday before, which will have the benefit of the normal six days’ worth of first-week sales: the biggest are Nickelback, Beyoncé and David Cook.

    So the first question is, will GnR’s one day eclipse the near-week’s worth of sales those others will pull? That alone is hard to answer. Other off-cycle blockbuster releases have included the last two Metallica joints, which did the trick but with three days’ worth of sales each; and several Eminem discs, including The Eminem Show (arguably the first-ever post-leak album), which topped the charts with a single Sunday’s worth of sales in May 2002 — but that’s Em at the absolute mega-zenith of his popularity. Plus, he did it back then with ~300K on that one day — very impressive and more than enough to top the charts in the late spring, but in late November just before turkey day? Axl’s gonna have to do better than that to top Nickelback, who will surely roll at least 500K.

    In short, unless CD does something extraordinary, we may be looking at the odd PR embarrassment of GnR’s long-awaited comeback album debuting someplace other than No. 1.

    Then we’re left with the question of what the album does in “week two,” which is really days 2 through 8 in its release cycle. Did the rabid fans all buy CD on day one? Were they in church? Are they all older than they were in the days of Use Your Illusion, with mortgages and kids and minivans, and they won’t buy on day 1 but will buy on day 6, i.e. Black Friday, when they finally get to the mall? Okay, let’s say they do: how big is that second week: 800K? Would that top Kanye if he comes close to the totals rolled by his last two debuts? (~860K and ~950K, for those who need reminding.)

    In short (again), there’s a scenario by which GnR tops the chart in both weeks, and there’s a more mind-blowing scenario in which it sells very, very well in its first eight days and still falls short of No. 1 in both of its first two chart weeks.

    Bottom line, this is near-impossible to predict, and we’ll have to continually recalibrate expectations, starting with the moment the GnR-Nickelback battle is over.

  4. Al Shipley

    Honestly I think the only unreliable variables in Chinese Democracy‘s sucess right now are A) whether a Best Buy exclusive works as well as Wal-Mart exclusives worked for AC/DC and the Eagles, and B) whether the publicity machine ramps any more in the next 2 weeks than it already has (i.e. any high profile interviews or television appearances from Axl, or a video release). As it stands, I think its first week sales are going to be pretty major (like 500k at the absolute lowest, perhaps way more), and of course it’ll taper off, but still end up a big fat multi-platinum success.

  5. MrStarhead

    @2ironic4u: Hoobastank’s next release doesn’t count as a bomb, since the last album bombed. This is just a last-gasp contract-completion album.

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