Country music is such a male-dominated industry that there is an entire class of male artists who exist just under the radar, often scoring radio hits but rarely an instant add. They may go gold or platinum, but they don’t hang around the top of the albums chart for very long. They score nominations for Top New Male Vocalist or the Horizon Award, but they don’t get Male Vocalist nods.
Today’s entry of Crunching the Numbers takes a look at how five such men are doing with their current albums.
Gary Allan, Living Hard
Release: October 23, 2007
Sales to Date: 372,600
Of all the men who fit the description in the introduction, Gary Allan is the least deserving of the B-level status. He’s a top-notch singer who writes and selects consistently interesting material, and he’s made albums with more depth and meaning than most of the A-list males in the business. His current set is on track to become his seventh gold album, though earlier sets have cleared the platinum mark. Why he hasn’t broken through to the big leagues is a mystery to me. Give the man a Male Vocalist nomination already!
Blake Shelton, Pure BS
Release: May 1, 2007
Sales to Date: 341,700
Thanks to a re-release of this album that includes his cover of “Home”, this album is back to selling in the 6-7k range every week, and should become Shelton’s fourth gold album in as many tries. He’s a solid singer, and this is one of the best divorce albums in recent memory. But the need to tack on the Michael Bublé cover highlights Shelton’s biggest hurdle, which is that he continues to be embraced for his occasional hit songs instead of as an artist.
Chris Cagle, My LIfe’s Been a Country Song
Release: February 19, 2008
Sales to Date: 115,800
After starting off his career with two gold albums, Cagle has struggled to match that level of success with his later efforts. His current album entered at #1 an spawned a top three single, but sales have been anemic, with the album selling less than 2k weekly. Radio has been slow to embrace his current single, “No Love Songs”, so unless something changes soon, this album’s already near the end of its run.
Phil Vassar, Prayer of a Common Man
Release: March 11, 2008
Sales to Date: 71,400
Few artists have demonstrated the law of diminishing returns better than Phil Vassar, who has gotten less mileage out of his signature sound and lyrical themes with each release. His first album went gold, thanks to a quartet of top ten hits. Ever since, his albums have been good for one radio hit and have failed to reach gold. This set is his first for Universal South, but changing labels hasn’t reversed the trend. With the album selling less than 2k a week after only three months in stores, things aren’t looking good.
Josh Gracin, We Weren’t Crazy
Release: April 1, 2008
Sales to Date: 53,700
His gold-selling debut disc arrived in 2004, and he scored three top five hits as he became the first American idol contestant embraced by country radio. However, a four-year gap between that set and his sophomore release may have been too long, especially with the wave of other Idol contestants that have taken up residency in country music. Obviously, Carrie Underwood isn’t going anywhere, but I’m sure the record labels of Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington are a little nervous seeing the Gracin numbers.