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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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Music

Product Vs. Promotion: Missy Elliott’s ‘WTF’

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After a nearly-decade long absence from charts as a leading act (and time filled with a number of “buzz” singles), ‘Hot Boyz’ hitmaker Missy Elliott kicked off 2015 by reminding any naysayers that she was hotter than ever.  An undoubted highlight of Katy Perry‘s otherwise forgettable ‘Super Bowl’ Halftime Show (the most watched in history), Elliott’s energy, stage presence, and resume of hits not only resonated with the viewing audience, but only seemed to amplify cries for the multi-talented diva’s full-on return to music.

It would literally be 10 months before their prayers were answered via the Pharrell Williams-produced ‘WTF.’ Dripping every “Elliott-ism” fans had grown to know and love over her 20 year career (see: futuristic & bass driven beat, colorful rapping), the bumping bop proved itself well worth the wait.  A welcomed departure from the dearth of quality rap ruling radio, by the time the tune’s out-of-this-world, Dave Meyers-directed video surfaced fans were sure the return to form would act as the much needed catalyst to put Missy back on top.  Even the rapstress herself bragged in the song:  ‘this another hit I got a(n) Ace in the hole.’

Unfortunately, Billboard charts wouldn’t exactly boast the same…

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Music

What Makes An Artist Iconic?

Today’s musical audience bestows artists with the “Icon” title well before their work warrants such an honor. The notion of being “iconic” has become as watered down as an artist christening new music as “organic.” Some assert that the time is gone where true icons are born and the new generation will fail to produce global icons such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, or Prince. After the jump we will breakdown what we feel it takes to be a true “Icon” in today’s musical landscape.

Below awaits That Grape Juice’s four T’s of being an Icon.

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Music

The Way Forward: Major Label Machine or Indie?

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In 2016, being an “Indie Artist” carries a different weight than in previous years. With albums becoming more DIY than ever before, we are seeing more talent pave their way to success without the backing of a major label. Has the once sought after “record deal” lost its vigor? That Grape Juice weighs up below…

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