You’d think that selling 3 million albums would guarantee some kind of success the next time out. But no: It’s a jungle out there, even on the pop charts. Take a look at this summer’s surprising hits and flops and you’ll see what we mean.
*The Lion King Soundtrack With music by Elton John and Tim Rice, this wasn’t an unexpected hit, but the magnitude is staggering: Disney’s first No.1 soundtrack since Mary Poppins has already sold 950,000 copies-271,000 of them the first week.
Recipe for success: Cross-market till you drop — you can’t beat merchandising tie-ins with a monster movie.
Purple Stone Temple Pilots The No. 1 smash follow-up to STP’s multiplatinum 1992 debut, Core, has sold 937,000 copies, with no signs of cooling — a rarity for hard-rock records, which tend to founder after strong starts.
Recipe for success: Whet appetites by including a song on a hit soundtrack (The Crow) before releasing your album. Record second album before buzz from first wears off. And, last but not least, actually improve.
Swamp Ophelia Indigo Girls The folk-rockers’ sixth album (329,000 sold so far) entered the charts at No. 9, a surprisingly strong debut for a niche act.
Recipe for success: Produce an album a year, tour relentlessly, and hope for the emergence of a new radio format (like album adult alternative, or AAA) that targets your eclectic, more mature, pop-and-rock-loving audience.
Dookie Green Day These obscure indie-label darlings have sailed into major-label nirvana with their third album, now at gold level (500,000-plus copies).
Recipe for success: Get MTV’s Buzz Bin on your side. Tap into a new youth subculture that offends adults. ”I call it dork rock,” says one underwhelmed label VP. ”It’s like the Becks and Pavements — I don’t understand it at all.” Exactly.
Turn It Upside Down Spin Doctors Despite sales of 3.6 million copies of their first album, 1992’s Pocket Full of Kryptonite, this studio follow-up has sold only 127,000 since debuting at a feeble 28 in early July.
Recipe for disaster: Release a first single (”Cleopatra’s Cat”) that sucks.
Can this album be saved? Their stronger, second single (”You Let Your Heart Go Too Fast”) and a summer tour, with hot opening act the Gin Blossoms, could help.
Zingalamaduni Arrested Development Another act with a triple-platinum 1992 debut strikes out. Four weeks after entering the charts at No. 55, the Grammy-winning rappers free-fall to 108, with only 61,000 copies sold to date.
Recipe for disaster: Shove peace, love, and understanding (and a nearly unpronounceable album title) down your audience’s throat.
Can this album be saved? Maybe if they join a gang.
Heart, Soul & a Voice Jon Secada Secada’s 1992 self-titled, double-platinum debut turned the Afro-Cuban-American smoothy into an international star, but Heart has yet to move beyond No. 21.
Recipe for disaster: Have your label push your first album with a massive marketing blitz, thus creating unrealistic expectations for your second.
Can this album be saved? That first album didn’t truly click until 11 months after its release. SBK could make the same thing happen for Heart — if it wants to dig into its pockets again.
Walk On Boston After a decent debut (No. 7), the album some pegged as this summer’s Bat Out of Hell II-style comeback sits at an unimpressive 36.
Recipe for disaster: Produce the same album you’ve been doing for 16 years. Then have your label ignore it (interviews with leader Tom Scholz were conspicuously absent in the press). ”To be honest,” admits one label’s VP, ”I didn’t even know it was out.”
Can this album be saved? Do dinosaurs still walk the earth?
The Flintstones: Music from Bedrock Soundtrack The movie’s $119 million box office didn’t help the soundtrack, which peaked at No. 73.
Recipe for disaster: Ask a campy band (the B-52’s) to cover a campy theme song, then release it as a single that sinks like a, er, stone.
Can this album be saved? ”Wil-maaaa!!!!”