Some of the most sumptuous music in quite some time was produced this year from some of my favorite singers and bands like London Grammar, James Blake, Cold Play and Maroon 5. The music industry may be dying, but not the music.
This, by the way, isn’t my first time at the rodeo for an annual music roundup. In fact, there’s been more that I care to remember during my four decades in the business.
The “in” thing these days is to blast the music industry; everything from satellite radio on down.
The major labels have suffered, again, this year, jettisoning more big-time behind-the-scenes players than ever before. And the big seven are now, like three. But that hasn’t stopped a constant flow of really great sounds.
The Year in Music 2014; Hits Keep Coming* If You Wait – London Grammar
Overgrown – James Blake
Ghost Stories – Coldplay
Chapter One-Ella Henderson
Morning Phase – Beck
La Sesion Cubana – Zucchero
Voices – Phantogram
Ultraviolence – Lana Del Rey
Silver Rails – Jack Bruce
High Hopes-Bruce Springsteen
In The Lonely Hour – Sam Smith
Lost in the Dream-The War On Drugs
Art Official Age-Prince
This Is All Yours-Alt J
Standing In The Breach-Jackson Browne
The Voyager-Jenny Lewis
Hypnotic Eye-Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Honorable Mentions: Songs Of Innocence-U2; Captive-Jade Starling; A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening-Marcus Goldhaber; Turn Blue-Black Keys; Sucker-Charlie XCX; Sonic Highways-Foo Fighters; Popular Problems-Leonard Cohen; 40 Years Down-Vic Kastel.
*No Particular Order
The fact of the matter is, if you have really great music, there’s no better time than now to get it out. And, yes, I am thinking about Duran Duran’s powerful song “All You Need Is Now.”
You know how it goes:
Stay with the music
Let it play a little longer
You don’t need anybody
All you need is now
Be it the continuing female-Brit influence (London Grammar; Ella Henderson) to more jam-bands like My Morning Jacket and Alabama Shakes, it’s been a very good year indeed for everything but album sales.
This year in July, the fewest albums were sold on a weekly basis since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. It was also the first drop below four million sales in a week, according to Billboard.
In 2014, not a single artist’s album has gone platinum, except Taylor Swift’s 1989, which is also the only album to hit the million sales mark during its debut week. Swift was also the last artist to hit a million sales the first week.
The fourth quarter of the year, which we’re in now, is usually when most albums are sold because of the holidays. But major artists like Adele, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Rihanna are sitting on the sidelines this year.
That adds up to another lean year for the business.
Music Cares Honoring Bruce Springsteen Airs on PBS
Neil Portnow’s Grammy Awards night is always an eclectic scene. But the Monday before the show, the music industry gathers for the “Music Cares,” one of the biggest charity events of the year. Elton John, Neil Young have been among those honored and last year the Boss, Bruce Springsteen was saluted. PBS screened the event the other night, and I must say, it was dazzling on every level.
Host Jon Stewart was spot-on perfect; actually it was one of his best gigs-ever. He said that when he was growing up in Jersey, feeling like a loser, he’d get into his car after work and listen to one of Bruce’s songs on the radio … about losers! Hilarious!
Alabama Shakes (my new fave band) doing “Adam Raised a Cain” was off the charts and Elton’s “Streets Of Philadelphia” positively chilling.
“Atlantic City” performed by Natalie Maines, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite was perfection.
The only somewhat odd moment was Patti Smith doing “Because The Night.” She seemed like she couldn’t believe she was in such company.
One of the best things I’ve seen on TV in far too long. Exceptional.
Names in the News
Tom & Lisa Cuddy, Hans & Lexy Schiess, Barry Zellman, Alan Rothstein, Keith Girard, Anthony Lopez, DJ Glenn Friscia, Randy Alexander, David Salidor, Jim Yukich, Chelsey Northern, Tony King, Tony Mandich, Mike Sigman, May Pang, Wayne Avers, Howie Silverman, Steve Woolf, Brit Brashear, Jade Sterling, Armen Garo, Robert Funaro, cfs.