On this day, the No. 1 album in the country (for the third week in a row) was Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream. Andrea Bocelli’s My Christmas was No. 2 (for the fifth straight week). Together, they’ve sold almost 3.5 million records, and one of them will likely top the 2009 charts. Which means good ol’ geezer pop just loped in on its totally nonthreatening horse and saved the record industry’s hide. Again.
Now, when we say ”geezer,” we don’t mean the Dentu-Creme demo; the term’s just a catchall for those Americans who once or twice a year buy records in numbers that hearken back to when Justin Timberlake had frosted tips. (”Your Aunt Who Likes Cat Sweatshirts Pop” isn’t as punchy, though maybe we could try out ”Susan Boyle Fans,” since she’s more or less their spirit animal.) It’s not that these folks don’t know how to use the Internet — Boyle didn’t discover herself, after all — it’s that their fandom still exists in the physical realm. No one searches MP3 blogs for Barbra Streisand or Michael Bublé leaks, but Babs hit No. 1 and Bublé’s in the top 10 now. Josh Groban’s 2007 Noël went quintuple platinum (and is selling strong again this year) because people played it on their living room stereos, not their iPods. George Strait fans still think Pitchfork is a farm implement. And Andrea Bocelli has a whopping 643 followers on Twitter. He could also probably buy Twitter, but I doubt he cares.
What lessons can embattled record execs learn from the geezer-pop class of ’09? Well, both Boyle and GP Junior League president Taylor Swift show that a good story still matters. Bocelli proves that achieving the worldwide success of a Michael Jackson?whose death sparked a physical product feeding frenzy of its own this summer?may be harder in these digital days, but it’s not completely out of reach. Bottom line: If you make something people want to own, they’ll buy it. Also: Hey, maybe you should call your aunt?