If you’re the kind of music buff who likes to be the first on your block to discover new artists, you might think about hibernating until January. From here on out, it’s superstars uber alles for a business that has come to believe that the all-important Christmas season starts in September and risks can wait for another calendar year. In street parlance: It’s a Kenny G thing.
The only problem is, in the increasingly fickle pop market, even sure shots are a gamble. We can prognosticate from now till the cows come home — or until all the crows are counted — about which of the much ballyhooed fall album releases will really keep registers ringing at gift-giving time. But in the absence of reliable soothsaying, only these three things remain certain: (1) that several returning alternative acts the industry believes to be the future of rock & roll will have turned out to be one-hit wonders; (2) that several hip-hop artists with uniquely spelled monikers who never charted higher than No. 30 with their freshman albums will astonish everyone but black-music insiders by debuting at No. 1 or No. 2 with their sophomore efforts; (3) that in the middle of December, long after everyone who could possibly be interested in buying her album should have, Alanis Morissette will still be in the top 10.
Further eroding any sense of reliability is that the three most commercially anticipated albums of the fourth quarter — from U2, Aerosmith, and the Offspring — have all recently been bumped to ’97, leaving a serious ”bah, humbug” in retailers’ mouths.
Still, in a world gone berserk, there are a few prospects we like to think of as, well, near certainties. Count on Kurt, the Crows (both Sheryl and Counting), a Madonna-driven Evita, and Snoop Doggy Dogg, at the very least, to bark up the right Christmas tree.
Fall Music Preview written by Matt Diehl, Mike Flaherty, Steve Futterman, Alanna Nash, Tom Sinclair, Ethan Smith, Russ Spencer, and Chris Willman