Recording Academy Halts ‘Grammy Nominees’ CD Series After 26 Years

The Recording Academy has called a halt to its annual Grammy Nominees CD series. The franchise was a major hit for many years, but has faltered in recent years as CD sales have dwindled.

“It ended up costing us quite a bit of money to do it and it was not selling [in big numbers anymore]” Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s chair and interim president/CEO, told Billboard.

Fifteen volumes in the annual series, which was produced by Leslie Lewis, made the top 10 on the Billboard 200. Two volumes—in 2013 and 2014—climbed as high as No. 2.

For many years, the Grammy Nominees CDs were as nearly as reliable as the Now franchise—which has also fallen off as CD sales have plunged. The first Grammy Nominees CD in 1995 peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard 200, but the next 23 in a row made the top 20. The last two volumes stalled in the 50s on the chart.

The main franchise sold 9.8 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. That tally doesn’t count three genre-specific spinoff titles released between 1999 and 2001 for rap and R&B/rap nominees. Adding those titles in, the franchise sold 10.4 million copies. (Also not included in this sales tally are the Latin Grammy Awards’ nominee compilation series, which ran from 2000 to 2005.)

Seven of the Grammy Nominees titles sold in excess of 500,000 copies. The best-selling individual titles in the series were the 2000, 1999 and 2004 editions, which sold 875,000, 674,000 and 642,000 copies, respectively.   

BTS Challenging For U.K. No. 1 Album With ‘BE’

BTS have a mountain to climb if they’re to snag a third U.K. No. 1 album. Consider it a challenge for the K-pop group and their loyal ARMY.

On the midweek chart, BTS come in at No. 2 with their fifth Korean-language studio album BE (BigHit Entertainment).

It’s the most downloaded and streamed album of the week so far, the Official Charts Company reports, though its well adrift of the pace-setter, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe’s Together at Christmas (Decca).

Ball and Boe’s holiday set is the best-selling CD in the first half of the week, and races to No. 1 on the Official Chart Update with a lead of 7,000 combined sales. If it holds its ground, Together at Christmas will be the pair’s third U.K. No. 1 album.

There’s a spike for Taylor Swift’s former leader Folklore (EMI), which vaults 36-3 following its release on vinyl.

Last week’s No. 1, AC/DC’s Power Up (Columbia), dips to No. 4, while Iron Maiden’s live effort Nights Of The Dead – Legacy Of The Beast (Parlophone) is new at No. 5.

Meanwhile, Neil Diamond and the London Symphony Orchestra’s Classic Diamonds (Capitol) sparkles at No. 6, Pink Floyd’s live album Delicate Sound of Thunder (Rhino) booms at No. 7, and Nick Cave’s live recording from Alexandra Palace Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone (Bad Seed) is at No. 8.

New releases from Cribs, Josh Groban, Tim Minchin and the 20th anniversary edition of Coldplay’s debut Parachutes (Parlophone) are poised for Top 20 entries.

Over on the midweek singles chart, Ariana Grande holds her position while BTS’ “Life Goes On” loses steam.

Grande’s “Positions” (Republic Records) is at No. 1 on the Official Singles Chart Update ahead of Billie Eilish’s “Therefore I Am” (Interscope), while BTS’ latest opens at No. 4, having started the week at No. 2.

The Official U.K. Singles and Albums Charts are published late Friday, local time.

Watch John Legend Dance to ‘Magical’ Battle on ‘The Voice’

You just know it’s a heavyweight battle when the opposing coaches are up and dancing.

That happened Monday night (Nov. 23), when Team Gwen’s Carter Rubin and Chloé Hogan went toe-to-toe for a dynamite knockout on NBC’s The Voice.

Rubin, the cherubic teen from Shoreham, went first with a performance of Lauren Daigle’s “You Say.”

It was a home run, with high notes aplenty. Gwen Stefani was clearly moved, and the mics caught her yelling, “my baby!”

Then came Hogan, the Nashville-based 20-year-old, with a flawless cover of SWV’s “Weak.” How good was it? It was good enough to get John Legend out of his seat for a groove.

As things wrapped up to “oh my gawds,” “wows,” and “smooth” from the coaches, Gwen was in a quandary. “What am I going to do?”

Stifling tears, Kelly Clarkson chimed in: “That was like a finale performance.” Rubin’s performance “broke me in the most amazing of ways,” while Hogan’s texture and tone was “incredible,” she enthused, for a thoroughly “outstanding job”.

Blake Shelton went one step further, noting Hogan’s performance was “magical.”

Carter “you actually nailed it, you are a prodigy,” noted John Legend, who held back a “steal.”

It all came down to Stefani, who had the toughest of choices to make. “This is a really difficult moment for me,” she remarked. Ultimately, she went with Carter.

The unlucky loser Hogan isn’t going anywhere. Legend immediately used his one and only steal. Everyone’s a winner.

Watch below.

Guitar Center Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy In Wake of Debt Restructure

Guitar Center, the nation’s largest retailer of musical instruments, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the company announced Saturday.

The bankruptcy filing came just one week after the Guitar Center, which had been struggling to compete with online retailers even before the pandemic, announced it had reached a debt-reduction deal with its key stakeholders.

The approved restructuring support agreement (RSA) intends to reduce Guitar Center’s reported $1.3 billion debt by nearly $800 million, including $375 million in Debtor-In-Possession financing from some existing note holders and lenders. It also intends to raise $335 million in new senior secured notes.

The agreement additionally includes $165 million in new equity investments from a fund managed by the private equity group of Guitar Center’s controlling owner Ares Management Corporation (which acquired a majority stake in the company in 2014), new investor Brigade Capital Management, a fund managed by The Carlyle Group and other lenders.

The company says its business operations will continue uninterrupted during the debt restructuring process and that it will continue to pay its vendors, suppliers and employees; operate its stores, websites, call centers and social media pages; and receive goods and ship orders. It will additionally honor all merchandise credits, prepaid lessons, rentals, gift cards, deposits, orders, financing and warranties.

“This is an important and positive step in our process to significantly reduce our debt and enhance our ability to reinvest in our business to support long-term growth,” said Guitar Center CEO Ron Japinga in a release. “Throughout this process, we will continue to serve our customers and deliver on our mission of putting more music in the world.”

Japinga added that the company expects to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of this year.

Guitar Center currently has 300 stores as well as 200 Music & Arts stores, which sell band and orchestral instruments, in the U.S. A majority of those locations were forced to close temporarily early in the pandemic, only adding to the company’s woes.

Saturday’s bankruptcy filing ironically comes as guitar sales surge in the U.S., driven by consumers wanting to pick up new hobbies during the pandemic shutdown. Guitar maker Fender tells CNBC that the company’s sales will top $700 million this year, a nearly 17% increase from 2019, while competitors including Gibson and Taylor have noted similar surges. Guitar Center itself reports that sales of Fender and other top guitar brands have seen triple-digit growth on its website since the pandemic began, though it’s unclear what percentage of those online sales came from new customers versus existing customers who would ordinarily shop at one of the retailer’s physical locations.

The rise of online competitors such as e-tail giant Sweetwater, along with an overall decline in sales of its namesake product, coincided with Guitar Center’s 2007 leveraged buyout by private equity firm Bain Capital, which left the company with over $1 billion in debt that it has since struggled to pay off.

SixTONES Shoot to No. 1 on Japan Hot 100

SixTONES soar to No. 1 on the latest Billboard Japan Hot 100, dated Nov. 9 to 15, with their latest single “NEW ERA.” The new Johnny’s boy band accumulated points in the metrics that strongly reflect the dedication from its loyal fanbase, leading physical sales with 459,986 copies sold, look-ups, and Twitter mentions.

The group also performed well in radio airplay, at No. 3 this week.

After cruising along at No. 1 for four straight weeks, LiSA’s “Homura” drops to No. 2, but continues to rule downloads, streaming, and video views. Depending on how the physical metrics (sales and look-ups) generally play out, the blockbuster anime movie theme could still return to the top of the Japan Hot 100 in the coming weeks.

Actor/singer Masaki Suda debuts at No. 6 this week with “Niji” (“Rainbow”). The theme of the latest Doraemon movie dropped digitally on Nov. 10 ahead of its CD release on Nov. 25, marking 35,488 units in first-week downloads (No. 2) and 3,736,739 streams (No. 18). The 27-year-old heartthrob is expected to make numerous media appearances to promote the single, and combined with the enduring popularity of the franchise, the track will likely stay in the upper regions of the chart for a while.

The Billboard Japan Hot 100 combines physical and digital sales, audio streams, radio airplay, Twitter mentions, YouTube and GYAO! video views, Gracenote look-ups and karaoke data.

Check out the Billboard Japan Hot 100 chart (dated Nov. 9 to 15) here.

Here Are the Lyrics to Billie Eilish’s ‘Therefore I Am’

Billie Eilish doesn’t have time for fake friends because she’s too busy being a fan of her latest single “Therefore I Am,” which leaps 94-2 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week (dated Nov. 28).

She runs and skips around the empty Glendale Galleria shopping mall for the self-directed music video that was entirely shot on an iPhone.

“It feels like me,” she told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe about the single from her forthcoming album. “I feel like the rest of them also feel like me, but I think this one is more like — if I think about it from an outside perspective, this one I’d be satisfied if I was a fan.”

Check out the lyrics and music video below.

I’m not your friend or anything, da–
You think that you’re the man
I think, therefore, I am
I’m not your friend or anything, da–
You think that you’re the man
I think, therefore, I am

Stop, what the hell are you talking about? Ha
Get my pretty name outta your mouth
We are not the same with or without
Don’t talk ’bout me like how you might know how I feel
Top of the world, but your world isn’t real
Your world’s an ideal

So go have fun
I really couldn’t care less
And you can give ‘em my best, but just know

I’m not your friend or anything, da–
You think that you’re the man
I think, therefore, I am
I’m not your friend or anything, da–
You think that you’re the man
I think, therefore, I am

I don’t want press to put your name next to mine
We’re on different lines, so I
Wanna be nice enough, they don’t call my bluff
‘Cause I hate to find
Articles, articles, articles
Rather you remain unremarkable
Got a lotta interviews, interviews, interviews
When they say your name, I just act confused

Did you have fun?
I really couldn’t care less
And you can give ‘em my best, but just know

I’m not your friend or anything, da–
You think that you’re the man
I think, therefore, I am
I’m not your friend or anything, da–
You think that you’re the man
I think, therefore, I am

I’m sorry
I don’t think I caught your name
I’m sorry
I don’t think I caught your name

I’m not your friend or anything, da–
You think that you’re the man
I think, therefore, I am
I’m not your friend or anything, da–
You think that you’re the man
I think, therefore, I am

Lyrics licensed & provided by LyricFind

Lyrics © rashelle

Written by: Billie Eilish O’Connell, Finneas Baird O’Connell

Gobble Up These 2020 Songs for Your At-Home Thanksgiving Celebrations

Happy Thanksgiving!

The bountiful holiday will be less about spending time with friends and family, and more about staying safe as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is discouraging the usual travel during this time of the year, and urging Americans “to celebrate at home with the people you live with.”

No matter how you’re spending this socially-distanced holiday, music is still here for you. Whether you’ll be delving into some “Yummy” apple pie, pumping yourself up for a “Dynamite” night wrapped up in a “cardigan” on the couch, or even if you’re feeling “Supalonely,” we’ve compiled a Thanksgiving playlist that’s sure to make you “Happy Anywhere.”

So, grab a plate of turkey and yams, and blast Billboard’s 2020 Thanksgiving playlist below.