How Katy Perry, Adele, Lady Gaga, and Others Followed Up Their Hit Albums

Katy Perry
Katy Perry released her fifth studio opus, Witness, in June.  She’ll launch a tour to support that work late this summer.

Her trek kicks off Sept. 7 at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.  The North American leg is scheduled to wrap Feb. 5, 2018 when Katy Perry performs in Vancouver, B.C.

Look for K.P. in Philadelphia on Sept. 18, Brooklyn on Nov. 11, and Atlanta on Dec. 12.  She plays two shows in Toronto, Boston, and Chicago.

Katy Perry also has two concerts planned for New York City.  Three shows are booked for Los Angeles.

Perry is an artist that’s released a very successful album.  I don’t mean an album that went to number one and sold a few copies.  I mean an album that sold millions and millions of copies, produces several hit singles, and won numerous awards.

Her historic album is Teenage Dream (2010).  The work went to number one in several countries, including the United States, sold more than six million copies, and was nominated for seven Grammy Awards.

Even more impressive, the album produced five number one singles.  Only one other album in the history of the world has ever done that, Michael Jackson’s Bad (more on that album later).

The success of Teenage Dream catapulted Perry into the record books, but it also put her in a tough situation, perhaps the toughest situation in music.  That tough situation is making an album after you had a monumental hit.

Her follow-up to Teenage Dream was Prism (2013).  It debuted at number one and eventually sold more than four million copies.  Instead of five, it produced just two number one singles.

Perry’s follow-up to Prism is the aforementioned Witness.  It hasn’t been released long enough to compare sales figure, but it did debut at number one (although it dropped to #13 the following week).

It should be noted that critics seemed to like Witness a lot less than they liked Teenage Dream or Prism.  That’s saying something because neither received many rave reviews.

How did the success of Perry’s follow-up compare to the follow-ups of other artists who released historically important albums?  See for yourself.

Below, are ten artists, their hit records, their follow-ups, and brief descriptions of their successes.

Adele
Hit Record: 21 (2011)
Follow-Up: 25 (2015)
Adele’s 21 was the bestselling album of 2011 and 2012, it won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and set a record for most weeks on the Billboard 200 for an album made by a woman. Adele’s next opus saw a 35 percent drop in sales—21 sold 31 million copies while 25 sold just 20 million. Like her debut, 25 won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Alicia Keys
Hit Record: Songs in A Minor (2001)
Follow-Up: The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003)
Two Grammy ceremonies before Beyoncé won five, Alicia Keys took home the quintet. Songs in A Minor has sold about 13 million units. Quite a feat for any singer, but especially impressive when you consider Keys was 20 when all this went down. Her follow-up avoided the sophomore slump. The Diary of Alicia Keys sold eight million copies and picked up three Grammy awards.

Beyoncé
Hit Record: Dangerously in Love (2003)
Follow-Up: B-Day (2006)
Beyoncé has yet to match the success of Dangerously in Love—eleven million in sales and five Grammy Awards. Her follow-up, B-Day, and the follow-up to that, I Am… Sasha Fierce, both sold more than eight million copies. Dangerously in Love and B-Day both peaked at number one. Then again, every Beyoncé album has reached the top spot of the Billboard 200.

Britney Spears
Hit Record: …Baby One More Time (1999)
Follow-Up: Oops!… I Did It Again (2000)
Britney Spears’ first two albums were released during the waning moments of when fans still bought physical copies of music. Together, her first two LPs combined for 45 million in sales. Both were gigantic successes, but her debut made her the “next Madonna,” a cultural icon, and a household name.

Bruno Mars
Hit Record: Unorthodox Jukebox (2012)
Follow-Up: 24K Magic (2016)
Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010) sold as many units as Unorthodox Jukebox, six million, and both produced two number one singles. Doo-Wop was nominated for seven Grammy Awards but won none. Jukebox won a trophy for Best Pop Vocal Album. Unorthodox reached the zenith of the album charts. Doo-Wop only got as high as number three. That’s why I’ve picked Unorthodox Jukebox. His follow-up to that record, 24K Magic, failed to summit the Billboard 200 and has yet to sell 2 million units.

Eminem
Hit Record: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
Follow-Up: The Eminem Show (2002)
The Marshall Mathers LP (34 million) is the bestselling album of the 21st century. The Eminem Show (30 million) is the fourth best. He followed that up with Encore (2004). That oeuvre sold 21 million copies. Altogether, Eminem has released eight studio albums. Five have sold more than 10 million copies.

Lady Gaga
Hit Record: The Fame (2008)
Follow-Up: Born This Way (2011)
If you include The Fame Monster, then The Fame has moved more than 15 million units. Rolling Stone magazine ranks The Fame as one of the greatest debuts of all-time. How did Lady Gaga follow it up? She released Born This Way three years later. That collection has sold around six million copies. Interestingly, The Fame stalled at number two, but Born This Way reached the top of the album charts.

Linkin Park
Hit Record: Hybrid Theory (2000)
Follow-Up: Meteora (2003)
Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory is the bestselling debut of the 21st century. It has sold more than 30 million copies. Three years later, they released Meteora. It wasn’t the cultural phenomenon of Hybrid, nor was it rated as high its predecessor, but it did reach the top spot. Hybrid Theory halted its climb at the penultimate position.

Michael Jackson
Hit Record: Thriller (1982)
Follow-Up: Bad (1987)
Michael Jackson’s Thriller can easily be a follow-up to Off the Wall (1979). At the time, critics asked how he can Jackson best Off the Wall? He did. Thriller is the world’s bestselling album of all-time—sales figures exceed 65 million. It also won eight Grammy Awards. Besides the five number one singles, Bad sold more than 30 million copies and earned six Grammys.

Norah Jones
Hit Record: Come Away with Me (2002)
Follow-Up: Feels Like Home (2004)
Norah Jones is another artist on our list who has won five Grammy Awards in one night. She achieved the feat thanks to Come Away with Me, an album that’s sold more 27 million units. What most music fans don’t know is her album actually won three more Grammys (eight in total), but those went home with other people. Her follow-up, Feels Like Home, sold just over 12 million copies and earned Jones an additional trophy for her crowded mantle.

Paul McCartney, Penny Lane, and The Piccolo Trumpet

pennylane

Paul McCartney has a lot to celebrate in 2017.

He turns 75 on June 18.  Earlier in the month, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the greatest rock album of all-time, turns 50.

Then on July 5, Macca kicks off a string of 21 dates in the United States.  The trek is part of his ongoing “One on One” world tour.

That July 5 date has Sir Paul rocking Miami.  His last date in America is Oct. 2, that’s the second of two shows in Detroit.

There’s another milestone involving the former Beatle that a lot of fans are overlooking.  This year, one of the greatest singles of all-time, Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, turns the big five-0.

pennylane

Those two amazing songs weren’t released as separate singles.  They were released together, as one single!

Long before iTunes and the internet, artists released singles on small vinyl records, designed to be played on a phonograph.  These small vinyl records contained one song on each side, thus the term single.

They were also called “45s,” a reference to the speed of the turntable—45 revolutions per minute—that was necessary to play them.  Long play albums ran at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute.

Generally, but not always, artists put their big new song on side A and a throw away song on side B.

For example, The Rolling Stones’ single “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” released more than year after “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane,” has as its B-side, “Child of the Moon.”

The novelty song, “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!,” released more than a year before “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane,” has as its B-side “!aaaH-aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC er’yehT.”   The song is “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” played in reverse.

It was rare for an artist to put two groundbreaking songs on opposite sides of the same single.  Both “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane” were from the recording sessions that gave us Sgt. Peppers and made their way onto the Magical Mystery Tour album.

Both sides of this historic 45, heard John and Paul getting nostalgic.  “Strawberry Fields” was John’s song while “Penny Lane” belonged to Paul.

Penny Lane does exist.  It is an actual street in Liverpool, England, The Beatles hometown.  Penny Lane is also the name of the area surrounding the street.

Incidentally, Elvis Costello’s mother grew up near Penny Lane.  Even more incidental, Costello has written and recorded with McCartney.

Before making it big, John and Paul would meet at Penny Lane to catch the bus.  Since the release of the song, the Penny Lane area has become something of a tourist destination.  Road signs are bolted to walls to prevent Beatles fans from stealing them.

While much of the lyrical content of “Penny Lane” is taken from real-life, some of it is poetic license.  For example, the fireman and fire engine referenced in the song are half-a-mile down the road.

Modern American listeners might find themselves scratching their heads at a few lines.  In particular, “Four of fish and finger pies.” The first part of the phrase refers to fish and chips while the second part is a sexual slang.

Besides being a beautiful song with a lovely melody, “Penny Lane” also contains a motif that will become quite famous and imitated.

The Beatles started recording “Penny Lane” four days after Christmas in 1966.  The sessions for the song went well, but McCartney felt the instrumental section was lacking.

Then, one night, Paul saw a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto on the BBC.

A Picture of a Piccolo

When he returned to the studio, he told Beatles producer George Martin about the performance and asked him for the name of the high-pitched trumpet he heard.  Martin’s answer was a piccolo trumpet.

McCartney thought the instrument would work well in “Penny Lane.”  In true Beatles fashion, they didn’t just get any piccolo trumpet player, they got the piccolo trumpet player Paul heard in the BBC performance, David Mason.

Mason recorded “Penny Lane’s” famous piccolo trumpet solo on Jan. 17, 1967.  He was paid 27 pounds and 10 shillings.  Converting that to U.S. currency, and adjusting for inflation, Mason payment had the purchasing power of about $550.

Mason was not done with The Beatles.  He would return to play trumpet in “A Day in the Life,” “All You Need Is Love,” “It’s All Too Much,” and “Magical Mystery Tour.”

Sound engineer Geoff Emerick has two interesting tidbits about Mason’s solo.  One, after he played the take you hear in the song, McCartney asked him to do another.

George Martin intervened and said the recording was over.  Martin was worried about over exerting the classical trumpeter.

This is significant because The Beatles usually had the final say in the studio, not George Martin.

Emerick’s also claims that the high “E” Mason played in the solo was previously thought to be unobtainable.  After “Penny Lane,” the note became standard for piccolo trumpet players.

McCartney’s ingenuity was responsible for what is probably the first use of the piccolo trumpet in a rock song.  The instrument, built an octave higher than typical trumpets, produces a distinct, clean sound that can pierce through so-called walls of sounds.

Similar piccolo trumpet solos have been used by other artists.  For example, there’s The Jam’s “Absolute Beginners,” Tears for Fears’ “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” XTC’s “Merely A Man,” and Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator.”

In the United States, a promotional single of “Penny Lane” was sent to radio stations.  This single had an additional piccolo trumpet flourish near the end of the track.  Subsequent singles had a different mix without the final trumpet part.

Singles with the trumpet part are some of the rarest and most valuable Beatles collectibles.  There’s a version of “Penny Lane” with the additional trumpet part on The Beatles Anthology 2.

“Penny Lane” peaked at number one in several countries including the United States.  Oddly, it stalled at number two in the United Kingdom, the country home to Penny Lane.

Paul has played “Penny Lane” in concert—it’s included on his 1993 live album, Paul Is Live—but it doesn’t seem to be on his setlist for his current “One on One” tour.  Very strange.

Edmonton Oilers Will Make The Stanley Cup Playoffs

Edmonton Oilers Will Make The Stanley Cup Playoffs

What’s the difference between a good team and a bad team?

A good team has very few questions and a lot of answers. A bad team has a lot of questions and very few answers.

Entering the 2016-2017 season, no NHL team had more questions than the record-setting Edmonton Oilers.

Record-setting? Yes, the Oilers are record setters. Unfortunately, it’s not the type of record fans want their team to set.

Last season, the Oilers tied the mark for longest playoff draught in NHL history. They completed their 10th consecutive seasons without qualifying for the postseason.

They don’t hold that dubious mark all by themselves. They are tied for longest postseason famine with the Florida Panthers of 2001 to 2011.

The last time the Edmonton Oilers were in the playoffs they fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Edmonton Oilers’ 10-Year Playoff Draught

Year GP W L OTL PTS FINISH
2006–07 82 32 43 7 71 5th, Northwest
2007–08 82 41 35 6 88 4th, Northwest
2008–09 82 38 35 9 85 4th, Northwest
2009–10 82 27 47 8 62 5th, Northwest
2010–11 82 25 45 12 62 5th, Northwest
2011–12 82 32 40 10 74 5th, Northwest
2012–13 48 19 22 7 45 3rd, Northwest
2013–14 82 29 44 9 67 7th, Pacific
2014–15 82 24 44 14 62 6th, Pacific
2015–16 82 31 43 8 70 7th, Pacific

Low Expectations
Before the start of the 2016-2017 campaign, many NHL pundits believed the Oilers were going to make it eleven-in-a-row and hold the record for playoff futility all by themselves.

Yet, with more than half the NHL season in the books, it looks like the Oilers will prove a lot of naysayers wrong.

After 42 games, Edmonton is 21-14-7 for a total of 49 points. That has them third place in the Pacific Division.

At the time of writing this article, the Oilers are heading into a tilt with the Pacific Division leading San Jose Sharks. The winner of the game will be tops in the Pacific (at least until the Anaheim Ducks play later that same evening).

Playoff Team
Conference-wise, the club is in fifth place. In other words, if the playoffs started today they’d the fifth seed.

The Oilers are two points ahead of the current sixth-place franchise and just one point behind places third and fourth. Although, two of those three teams, the third-place Anaheim Ducks and the sixth-place St. Louis Blues, have played two fewer games.

Even better, the Oilers are five points ahead of eighth place.

So, the Oilers are not only looking at qualifying for the postseason but possibly, maybe, if things go well, hosting a series!

Playing For First!
Sure, a lot can happen in the final forty games, but you have to like their chances at maintaining their current pace and reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

At the very least, it’s January and the Oilers are playing for first place. As the EdmontonJournal.com puts it:

“Let’s take a moment to stop and savour the rare combination of words: “first place implications” … “Oilers” … “January”.”

McDavid is McAwesome
Remember how we said good teams have few questions and a lot of answers? For the 2016-2017 Oilers, the man providing most of the answers is Connor McDavid.

According to Fansided, “Connor McDavid is their heir apparent to Sidney Crosby.”

At the time of writing this article, McDavid is leading the league in points and assists. He also has 14 goals and a plus/minus of 12.

Jordan Eberle
As good as McDavid has been, he can’t do it alone. Entering the season, many thought he’d get help from Jordan Eberle.

Back in 2011-2012, when Eberle was 21, he amassed a 76-point season. Since then, he’s posted campaigns of 37, 65, 63, and 47. Even if you account for the games he missed, his best points per 82 games was 67.

Eberle entered this year as a 26-year-old forward. In other words, he’s in his hockey prime.

How’s he doing? Through 42 games he has 26 points. Compute that out for an entire season and we’re looking at 50 points.

Even worse, already this season Eberle has had four goalless streaks of six games or longer.

Leon Draisaitl
Fortunately for the Oilers, winger Leon Draisaitl is picking up the slack. The German has 15 goals and 20 assists through 42 games.

Coach Todd McLellan has recently put Draisaitl on the same line as McDavid and Patrick Maroon. Maroon leads the Oilers in goals, 16, and plus/minus, 14.

The sample size is small, but the line of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Maroon could be one of the best offensive lines in the league.

Meanwhile, goalie Cam Talbot is having a solid year with a 2.44 goals against average and a save percentage of .920. He’s sixth in the league in both wins and shutouts.

Now For The Bad News…
While the Oilers may end their playoff drought, fans shouldn’t expect much more.

Beyond the previously mentioned McDavid-Draisaitl-Maroon line, the Oilers offense is average at best and they need help on their blue line.

The team is really riding McDavid’s talent, as they should. If they want to make a deep run, they’re going to need offensive consistency from at least one more line.

Also, 22 out of their last 40 games are against (probable) playoff teams. That includes five out of their last seven.

Oilers Won’t Spoil
Before the calendar changed, the Oilers suffered four losing streaks of three of more games. For all that they’re doing well, the Oilers can still play like a franchise that hasn’t reached the postseason in a tenth of a century.

Obviously, the Oilers continue to have questions they don’t have answers to. Even so, they are headed in the right direction, and more than likely, headed to the postseason.

That’s got to make Oilers fans feel very good especially after experiencing literally the worst decade in NHL history.

Fifth Harmony: Five Reasons They’re The Best Girl Group Of All-Time

Fifth Harmony: Five Reasons They’re The Best Girl Group Of All-Time

Admit it!  You’re going to be there.  You want to be there.  If you’re like us, you’ll have to be there!

Fifth Harmony launches their second major headlining tour this summer in Peru.  Their trek is in support of their sophomore effort, 7/27.

The album is named after the date the group formed—July 27th, 2012.  Exactly four years later, the sensational singers will begin the North American leg of their world tour.  

That’s right, on July 27, 2016 Fifth Harmony commences their “7/27 Tour” in Manchester, New Hampshire!

The talented divas are scheduled to perform 33 shows with the last one set for Sept. 17, 2016 (that night they’ll be in Las Vegas to perform at The Joint).  You’ll also be able to catch them in Boston, Brooklyn, Atlanta, Dallas, and San Diego.

You’ve got to see Ally Brooke, Camila Cabello, Dinah Jane, Lauren Jauregui, and Normani Kordei perform live.  Fifth Harmony is awesome in concert.  Of course, what else do you expect from one of the greatest girl groups of all-time!

Don’t believe us?  You will. 

We’re going to give you five reasons why Fifth Harmony should be number one in your hearts.  After reading our list you’ll definitely be a fan and you’ll definitely want to get your hands on Fifth Harmony tickets.  

After all, who doesn’t want to see one of greatest girl groups of all-time live and in person?  In other words, we’ll see you at the show!

First Reason – Fate Is On Their Side
All Fifth Harmony members auditioned for The X-Factor USA.  Sadly, all five failed to make it to the “judges’ house” stage of the competition.  For example, Dinah didn’t make it because she forgot the lyrics to her song.

Then in steps Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato.  They changed the course of music history forever by uniting the five talents and forming a band.  As a unit, the singers were allowed to enter the show’s “Groups” category.  They eventually finished third overall.

Originally, they were called “LYLAS” which stood for “Love You Like A Sister.”  When they found out there was already another band with that name, they switched to “1432.”  That stands for “I Love You Too.”

The powers-that-be at The X-Factor didn’t care for “1432” so they decided to let fans name the group.  That’s how they became “Fifth Harmony.”

Fifth Harmony may not have formed organically—they didn’t meet at school and start practicing in one of their parents’ garages—but they’re not a fabricated band like some have claimed.

Their formation is special.  They were founded by fate.  Think of how many events had to happen in order to bring these five fabulous singers together? 

Second Reason – They Have Inspiring Lyrics
Fifth Harmony’s lyrics aren’t vapid.  The women sing about a lot more than boys and partying. 

Take for instance these lines from “Miss Movin’ On,” the group’s first single:

I took the record off repeat
It killed me but I survived
And now I’m coming alive

That’s a sentiment we can all relate to.

In their next single, “Bo$$,” they continue to inspire with positive messages of self-confidence and independence.  We especially like the song’s chorus:

Michelle Obama
Purse all heavy
Gettin’ Oprah dollars

Then right out of the first chorus, Normani sings:

C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T
That’s me, I’m confident
Don’t want yo compliments

Later, all the members “pledge allegiance” to their “independent girls.”  This makes “Bo$$” more than a song, it’s an anthem.

Even in a love song like "Worth It,” which peaked at #12 on the Billboard 200, Fifth Harmony healthily balances sex and self-respect:

Give it to me, I’m worth it
Baby, I’m worth it
Uh huh I’m worth it

Sure, Fifth Harmony sings about crushes and dancing (see "All In My Head (Flex)," "Sledgehammer," and “Me and My Girls”) but they always do so positively, without losing their confidence, esteem, or pride.  They are truly inspiring.

Third Reason – Fifth Harmony Are Philanthropists
Fifth Harmony has only been around since 2012 but their philanthropy work rivals that of bands that have been around since 2002.

One of the main causes Fifth Harmony gives their time and energy to is anti-bullying.  To that end, they have taken part in campaigns sponsored by The Cybersmile Foundation and the executive producers of the Teen Choice Awards.

Fifth Harmony has also joined forces with The Girl Scouts of America, The Ryan Seacrest Foundation, and Goodwill Industries. 

In 2014, Fifth Harmony became spokespeople for Aéropostale and Do Something.org’s “Teens for Jeans.”  The campaign asks for donations of slightly worn denim to give to homeless teenagers. 

To aid the aforementioned causes, Fifth Harmony has recorded PSAs, made public appearances, and performed live.

Their philanthropy work, which has largely focused on youth causes, is quite admirable.  It’s easy to be a fan of their music when you know they’re such good human beings.

Fourth Reason – Fifth Harmony Knows How To Get It Done On Stage
Whether it’s performing on The X-Factor or taking the stage during their own headlining tour, Fifth Harmony knows how to put on one heck of a good show.

Over the years, Fifth Harmony has performed at venues as modest as shopping malls and as prestigious as The White House—the women sang Mariah Carey’s "All I Want for Christmas Is You.”  Regardless of where they’re booked, the quintet takes the stage with professionalism, energy, and great voices.

Additionally, they have brought the house down on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Ellen Show, The CMT Music Awards, and Britain’s Got Talent.  All four of those performances can be found on YouTube.

It doesn’t matter if the band is headlining or warming up audiences, they always give it their best.  In the past, Fifth Harmony has opened for Cher Lloyd, Demi Lovato, and Austin Mahone. 

Their first major outing, “The Reflection Tour,” launched in February of 2015.  Jasmine V, Jacob Whitesides, and Mahogany Lox were tapped for openers.

“The Reflection Tour” was a huge commercial success.  The band played to 16 sold out venues and it was extended twice.  Critics praised Fifth Harmony for their vocals, showmanship, and production values.

Fifth Reason – Their Music!!!
We saved the best for last.  The biggest reason why Fifth Harmony is one of the greatest girl groups of all-time is their music.  

Fifth Harmony blends R&B, both old and new, with pop.  All the while, they sound like a girl group, relying on tight harmonies, strong solos, and dynamic vocal acrobatics.

You can sing and dance to their music.  To see what we mean, check out the ultra-catchy “Work from Home,” the infectious fun of “Me and My Girls,” the sophisticated “Write On Me,” and the rhythmic groove of “Sledgehammer.”

Many of their songs have interesting and unique musical motifs.  The vibraphone hook that runs through “Work from Home,” the crazy horn riff from “Worth It,” and the vocal sample from “Sledgehammer” are just a few of the band’s most interesting musical accompaniments.

Obviously, their strength is their voices.  Despite all five women starting out as solo artists, they have a tremendous amount of vocal chemistry.  It’s amazing how great they sound together and how they achieved such precision in a short period of time.

Bottom line, there’s not a girl group, past or present, top to bottom, that has more pure vocal talent then Fifth Harmony.