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Music

Album Certifications: Is Silver The Solution?

TGJ Assess Whether A Fresh Tier Can Calm The Confusion

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There once existed an era where obtaining a Gold and arguably Platinum record was a given for even the most modest of acts. Today, we see “A List” artists struggling to hit bronze. With 2016 nearing its end, only three acts (Drake, Beyoncé, and Rihanna) have reached Platinum status with their new releases; and even that count has been called into question (see: ‘ANTI,’ Samsung, and streaming).

As sales have dived, streaming has thrived – helping the U.S music business grow by 8.1% over the last year. And still, in the sea of changing rules and weekly revisions, it remains difficult to decipher who is dominating and whose success may be attributable to smoke and mirrors. Indeed, it’s now become commonplace for projects that have yet hit to hit Platinum in pure sales being certified double and even triple Platinum thanks to “other” factors.

A simple sign of changing consumption patterns? Perhaps. But what is becoming problematic is how said plaques are being used and arguably abused to market the meagre as major.

This reality has led some corners to call for the implementing of a Silver certification by the RIAA. It’s already a “thing” in large markets such as the U.K and we, here at TGJ, feel the States could benefit from the same.

Tune in after the jump to see what me mean…

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Music

Why Is Usher So… ‘Hard II Love’?

TGJ Weighs Up The Singer’s Missteps & Moulds A Comeback Plan

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Usher unleashed his eighth studio album ‘Hard II Love’ on the masses last week. And though the final tally has yet to be counted, the official sales forecast sent the net into a flutter.

For, the set – led by singles ‘Crash’ and ‘No Limit’ – is on course to debut with 25,000; the lowest US numbers of the crooner’s career.

Given the unforgiving nature of today’s age and the fickleness of select fans, some have deemed it “the end” for the 8-time Grammy winner.

We’re not so sure about that, but can’t distract from the fact that something is…off.

Join us below as we unpack the problems and size up the solutions…

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Music

That Grape Juice’s Fall 2016 Release Preview

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As last days of the summer season play out, the fun doesn’t stop this Fall. Because an onslaught of new music is set to be unleashed in the months ahead.

Many of which we are all sorts of excited about.

Join us after the jump to see which releases we here at That Grape Juice are most eager to get our hands on.

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Music

Product Vs. Promotion: Rihanna’s ‘Kiss It Better’

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After a number of false starts courtesy of singles ‘FourFiveSeconds,’ ‘B*tch Better Have My Money,’ and ‘American Oxygen,’ Grammy winning pop diva Rihanna saw her 8th era finally get an official kickoff with the Drake-assisted single ‘Work.’  Skyrocketing to the top of the Hot 100 shortly after its debut, the Caribbean-kissed tune would at long last lead her faithful fans on the path to unlocking her octonary opus ‘Anti.’

Yet, while ‘Work’ won week after week atop the singles charts thanks to some serious sales and streaming, its parent album wasn’t exactly singing the same tune.  Living up to its apt titling by boasting a track list of some of her most sonically adventurous and daring work to date, initial critical and commercial reception almost seemed to reflect her fan base’s displeasure with the product and the long wait for its delivery.  Evidenced by a less than impressive #27 debut on the Billboard 200, the project’s promotional campaign didn’t help matters and left many-a-head scratched (see: free downloads, “platinum status,” etc.).

But, as officially counted streaming figures helped float the island beauty’s 8th project to the upper rankings of Billboard 200, fans continued to whine their waists to ‘Work’ with hopes its follow-up, ‘Kiss It Better,’ would be just what the doctor ordered to remedy the era’s shortcomings.

However, time would prove the suggestion a misdiagnosis:

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Music

Product Vs. Promotion: Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Aint Your Mama’

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After spending the latter half of the noughties garnering more misses than hits on the Billboard Hot 100, Jennifer Lopez‘s musical career hit a homerun in the early ’10s courtesy of the RedOne-produced ‘On the Floor.’  With the assistance of rapper PitBull, Lopez’s return to dominance and prominence spelled of much promise until fans were greeted with a number of rehashes of the J.Lo/Pitbull formula over the four years that followed.

The absence of ‘On the Floor’s catchiness and magical flair proved an impotent punch for its successors as all of them failed to come anywhere near its chart performance.  But, while she was hitting a number of sour notes on the Hot 100, Jenny’s star was proving itself hotter than ever thanks to ‘American Idol,’ a hit scripted series ‘Shades of Blue,’ and a hotly-selling Vegas residency.

The reignition of overall public interest in “Jennifer Lopez: the star” may have acted as the catalyst for the triple threat diva to try her hand yet again at her ailing music career.  Tapping an unused number from hitmaking newcomer Meghan Trainor and producer extraordinaire Dr. Luke, the trio birthed ‘Ain’t Your Mama’:  the first official single from Jenny’s 9th album…

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Music

Product Vs. Promotion: Ciara’s ‘Jackie’

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Music lovers who’d written off Grammy winning stageblazer Ciara after the unforgiving dismissal of her third and fourth albums, ‘Fantasy Ride’ and ‘Basic Instinct’ respectively, were in for a rude awakening when her self-titled project dropped in 2013.

A return to prominence of sorts for the dancing diva, the album waltzed its way to a top 5 debut on the Billboard 200 courtesy of the modern-day slow jam ‘Body Party’ and other supporting cuts.  The truest test of her commercial relevance in the day’s music market, however, would be passed if the reignited momentum could carry on to its follow-up.  The answer to the challenge would arrive in a somewhat unlikely single choice:  ‘I Bet.’

Perceived as a clear clapback to her highly publicized relationship woes with former fiance/rapper Future, ‘I Bet’ was greeted with mixed reviews as some praised the singer for the tune’s brazen content while others expressed disappointment over its dated sound.  A slow, but steady climb up the Billboard Hot 100 (thanks to promotional appearances and radio play) would prove ‘I Bet’ a sure bet – a “winner” in some contexts given the unfavorable treatment “pure R&B” tracks were receiving on the pop charts in 2015.

However, that relative “win” would not be enough to launch the song’s parent album, ‘Jackie,’ to the heights of any of its predecessors:

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Music

Product Vs. Promotion: Iggy Azalea’s ‘Team’

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The dreaded “sophomore slump” – the career hurdle that’s caused the fall of a number of music history’s most promising acts – currently stands to add Grammy-nominated rapstress Iggy Azalea to its  lengthy list of casualties.

Azalea, who didn’t exactly experience “overnight success” in her transition from virtual unknown to one of rap’s leading ladies, did see her career go from 0-100 (real quick) after her participation on Ariana Grande‘s horn-filled hit ‘Problem’ and the release of her own history-making single ‘Fancy.’ But, with the triumphs of both singles came the real “problem:  replicating their successes.

The endeavor would be doused with degrees of difficulty as the saucy Aussie’s public profile rang as the exact antithesis of her Billboard chart story.  Indeed, fielding attacks from the likes of Nicki Minaj, Q-Tip, Azealia Banks, Snoop Dogg, and even fellow Caucasian rappers Eminem and Macklemore, the court of public opinion joined them in finding Azalea guilty of cultural misappropriation and inauthenticity.  The effects of the verdict would be manifested in poor ticket sales for her headlining arena tour and fuel its cancellation (reportedly due to shifting focus to her debut album’s follow-up).

That follow-up, titled ‘Digital Distortion,’ found its kick-off via the bumping bop ‘Team’:
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