Scribbled in history books for some good and not-so-good reasons, 2016 brought with it some of modern music’s most memorable moments.
Now, as the year draws to a close, TGJ is reflecting on 31 moments that rocked – and to some degree shaped – the Urban and Pop musical landscape as we know it.
Next, we reflect on two of the year’s biggest letdowns…Frank Ocean‘s long-awaited comeback album ‘Blond’ and Maxwell‘s ‘blackSUMMERSnight’:
Frank Ocean, a celebrated singer/songwriter who’s penned hits for himself as well as some of Urban music’s most prized acts (Beyonce, Brandy, Justin Bieber, etc.), sent fans into musical starvation mode after withholding tastes of what he was serving via the follow-up to his 2012 critically acclaimed debut, ‘Channel Orange.’ Finally, after what felt like forever, summer 2016 saw the ‘Pyramids’ performer begin to build anticipation for the project through cryptic messages shared on social media. By mid-August 2016 fans finally had the full length set, titled ‘Blond,’ in their hands and ears.
Blasting to #1 on the Billboard 200 with a whopping 276,000 units moved (the third highest opening week of the year at the time of its release), the feat was all the more impressive given the lack of promotion afforded to the project. Yet, while at first the album seemed poised for (what everyone expected would be) some serious commercial success, the harshest criticism seemed to come from those who wanted ‘Blond’ most – his fans.
MTV’s Franchesca Ramsey seemed to sum up the sentiment of many:
By no means a failure on any front – critically or commercially – ‘Blond’ was certainly a critical polarizer that not only lost fans among the buying public, but also among power players at his label home and even prospective label options (see: ‘Frank Ocean Unable to Secure Distribution for ‘Blond’ Due To Independent Surprise Release’).
As we are keen to see when and how the response to this project impacts his future releases, we can say that for many – some of us at TGJ HQ included – the wait for ‘Blond’ just may have not been worth it. Hopefully Fo3 won’t take as many years.
Elsewhere over 2016’s Urban music landscape, the top of the year saw fans thrilled to learn Grammy-winning crooner Maxwell was finally ready to launch the second installment of ‘blacksummersnight’ trilogy. Kicked off by the promising ‘Lake by the Ocean,’ Max fans found themselves more and more disappointed by the numbers that followed it.
Released nearly 7 years after its predecessor, ‘BLACKsummersnight,’ installment #2 – titled ‘blackSUMMERSnight’ – only sold 59,000 its first week (barely a fifth of the sum its 2009 forerunner sold its first week). The figure, attributed in part to the declining industry’s sales in general, were (according to some) due to the fact that Max simply dropped the ball with the project.
Will it have any impact on the final installment of the trilogy? According to the maestro himself, we won’t have to wait nearly as long to find out.