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The mid-year hits, 2017

We are now halfway through 2017 and as what usually happens, it is now time to take stock of what happened these past six months. Music-wise, it was a grand time for Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber. For a better idea of what sounds were in early this year, take a look at Billboard’s very interesting mid-year charts. This is not the complete list. No problem, just go to the Billboard site for the rest.

Here are the Top 10 albums based on overall equivalent album units sales. This means including the equivalent units from downloads of singles from the album, which I believe is 10 songs downloaded equals one album sold: 

DAMN by Kendrick Lamar; Divide by Ed Sheeran; More Life by Drake; 24K Magic by Bruno Mars; Culture by Migos; Starboy by The Weeknd; Moana, the motion picture soundtrack by Various Artists; Future by Future; Memories…Do Not Open by The Chainsmokers; and Stoney by Post Malone.

The Top 10 albums based on album sales alone are: Divide by Ed Sheeran; DAMN by Kendrick Lamar; 24K Magic by Bruno Mars; Moana, the soundtrack; Hardwired… To Self-Destruct by Metallica; From A Room: Volume 1 by Chris Stapleton; Trolls, also a soundtrack; Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol.2, another soundtrack by Various Artists; More Life by Drake; and more soundtrack, Beauty and the Beast.

All of those copies must be equally expensive but not as much as No. 1. The record was owned by Beatle Ringo Starr who sold it at auction for $790K to an unknown collector who paid that much. So you might come across 0000002 or you can flirt with 0000003. That’s fine, but if it is 0000001 that you want, you still have to shell out more than $790K.

And a new category. The Top 10 selling vinyl albums. This means physical sales of long-play albums that today’s music lovers have discovered and have become hot about. Sales are not much. Only 39,000 units for the No. 1 album on the list, but it is a start and enough for Billboard to come up with a Vinyl Albums chart.

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Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles; La La Land, the movie soundtrack; Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 by Various Artists; Legend by Bob Marley and the Wailers; Back To Black by Amy Winehouse; Divide by Ed Sheeran; Abbey Road also by The Beatles; Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution; Yours Conditionally by Tennis; and The Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd.

And now the Top 10 selling digital songs which means downloaded singles: Shape Of You by Ed Sheeran; Despacito by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber; That’s What I Like by Bruno Mars; Body Like A Back Road by Sam Hunt; I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker) by Zayn and Taylor Swift; Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay; Say You Won’t Let Go by James Arthur; Believer by Imagine Dragons; Issues by Julia Michaels; and 24K Magic by Bruno Mars.

Random thoughts on these hit lists. Where are the girls? Only Julia Michaels and the late Amy Winehouse made the lists. Are they without new products like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé or not selling enough like Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande these days?

The titles in these charts are not much different from the ones we have in the local charts, Sheeran, Mars, Chainsmokers, etc., which means we remain, as ever under the spell of American pop music. 

Vinyls are back in a big way. Somebody get a pressing plant running out here. Digital might be convenient but there are a lot of people who still want their music, tangible. So, if CDs are indeed being phased out, then they will have those long-play albums.

Speaking of vinyls, just read this article by Parker Hall in Digital Trends about the most expensive vinyls in existence. On top of the list is the White album by The Beatles numbered 0000001. It turns out that band members and record executives involved with The Beatles were given serial-numbered copies, just like lithographs, of the album when it was released. 

So there are chances you might come across 0000002 or 0000003 one of these days. All of those numbered copies must cost a lot after 50 years but not as much as No. 1. This copy was owned by Starr who sold it at auction for $790K. So you can bid for all the others but if it is 0000001 you want, you will have to shell out more than $790K.

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