HITS Daily Double

By Karen Glauber

The endless jokes about sophomore albums are funny because they’re usually true. An artist has their whole life to make their debut record, which, if huge, means the follow-up is usually rushed-to-completion by the record company, eager to cash in on the band’s success. Most bands tour relentlessly, especially when a big record creates the demand for shows. “Tickets and T-shirts” is how they make money, after all. Songwriting is relegated to the back of the tour bus, hence the stereotypical sophomore theme: Being on the road.

This theme can be divided into multiple subsets, such as: (1) Missing family/loved ones. (2) Seeing a million new faces (and rocking them all). (3) The artist’s mission to save the world because they’ve played festivals in multiple countries and have a deep understanding of “people” (file under “Bono”). (4) Falling in love every night (see #2). (5) The artist’s fragile disposition/nervous breakdown/drug addiction (countless examples). The resulting album rarely fulfills the promise of the artist’s debut (unless their names are Adele or Amy Winehouse), and there are very few examples where the follow-up is universally regarded as an aesthetic and commercial triumph after a break-thru debut.

Since the exception is always more interesting than the rule, let’s take a close look at Cleopatra, The Lumineers’ latest. The first single, “Ophelia” is the most-played song at Alternative to be released in 2016. Although in Recurrent and no longer on the chart, “Ophelia” is #2 in overall audience this week. The song peaked at #1 at Alternative (for four weeks) and #1 at Triple A (for 12 weeks) but was not worked at Top 40. “Ophelia” had 2 MILLION streams this week, and single sales are nearing 400k. This is absolutely incredible, especially for a song that was a hit at two radio formats that supposedly don’t matter. In support of “Ophelia,” the band played a sold-out worldwide tour, culminating in an epic night at the Hollywood Bowl. Early next year (and remember, this is only album #2), The Lumineers will embark on an arena tour, with Madison Square Garden selling out within an hour of the onsale.

Single #2, “Cleopatra,” is #2 at Triple A, with #1 an absolute certainty within a few weeks. This week, it was #1 Most Added at Alternative (#2 Most Added last week), which should be strong enough for a chart debut in the vicinity of Top 30 this Monday. Our friend in the Northwest, Mark Hamilton, bumped “Cleopatra” to Power at KNRK, based on callout with his P1s, and the album sales increased 146%, from #76 in Portland to #24. “Callout + sales = SMASH,” was his quote to me. I know how much you love “metrics,” so here’s another one: “Cleopatra,” which is still an infant in terms of airplay, is already streaming 600k/week. Cleopatra is #17 on the iTunes album chart. Here’s what you need to know: YOUR AUDIENCE LOVES THE LUMINEERS. They are the #1 indie label band at the format! It really isn’t that complicated. As my fearless leader Lenny Beer always says, “People like what they like.” These songs will live in your library forever. You’re welcome.

I was at the scenic Kansas City Airport Hampton Inn late last Friday night, trying desperately to fall asleep before my unfathomably early flight back to LA, when I heard a familiar song intro on the TV (I have to sleep with it on). I lifted my head off the pillow and saw (I also sleep with my glasses on) the Acura commercial that uses Beck’s “Wow” as the music. WOW, indeed. The single best way to break a song at Alternative radio is through car ads: Empire of the Sun, X Ambassadors, Fitz and the Tantrums and, now, Beck! I hope my Alternative radio friends will put “Wow” back into rotation today. Seriously. You’ve been handed a hit song on a silver platter. Don’t fuck this up… Speaking of X Ambassadors, their initial fanbase was made up of college kids—not the early-adopter, blog-reading hipsters, but the not-so-cool kids who drew inspiration from Sam’s incredible songwriting and relatable presence. A band I love, The Arkells, have a similarly fanatical base of support. Their new single, “My Heart’s Always Yours,” is being played on some key northeast stations. Their fanbase is your audience.

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