Let’s Start Wondering Why The U2 Album Isn’t Selling

Dan Gibson | March 6, 2009 12:00 pm

It’s not a surprise that the new U2 album is, barring some sort of crazy coup by Taylor Swift fans, going to hit No. 1 on the album charts next week, but music biz projection types seem to think that Bono & co. are going to scan right around 500,000 copies the first week out of the box which to say the least is a little disappointing (considering How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb sold over 800,000 the first week). It’s not like the band hasn’t put the promotional work in. So what happened?

I imagine there will be a dozen or so articles blaming the weakish sales on filesharing, so let’s give Digital Music News a little credit for trying a little harder to find an answer—namely, “Get On Your Boots”:

But isn’t this U2, one of the last mega-superstar acts left standing? Indeed, the mere mention of U2 is enough to rally the longtime faithful. But like everyone else, U2 still needs a sizzling single to drive tonnage, and that appears missing from the current equation.

According to information compiled by exclusive data partner BigChampagne, response has been rather tepid on lead single “Get On Your Boots,” across online and offline formats. Through its BC Dash interface, BigChampagne aggregated a number of important chart positions, including a peak spot of #68 on US-based terrestrial radio tracker Mediabase (across all formats), reached on February 7th. Currently, “Boots” is ranked #106 on traditional radio, though the song is #12 across rock formats.

Hardly a runaway smash, and the story online is similar. On the BigChampagne TopSwaps chart, “Get On Your Boots” recently peaked at the lowly #540. Separately, downloads of the entire leaked album reached a modest 445,649 on BitTorrent channels through March 3rd, over a two-week, pre-release window.

It’s not difficult to think that the tepid reaction to “Get On Your Boots” has poisoned the well for the album as a whole. Reaction to the song, among my friends, sorted out who was still blindly devoted to U2 these days; even acquaintances who went to multiple Zoo TV dates and praised the middling post-Pop era seemed to shake their heads a bit at whatever the heck was going on there. The album is a little more enjoyable for me as time goes on, but it’s hard to get over the stinker of a first single, and maybe the band is suffering sales-wise for that mistake.

Why Is U2 Projecting So Low? The Dirty Data Details… [Digital Music News]