Rarely can an album sell almost 300,000 copies in its opening week and be considered a disappointment.
This is one of those unusual circumstances.
Based on opening day sales data, Hits Daily Double reports that Katy Perry’s heavily hyped, long awaited and aggressively marketed “Prism” is pacing to debut in the 270-290K ballpark.
If the figure holds, it would not only land well below expectations but represent growth of less than 100K over predecessor “Teenage Dream,” which moved 192K debut units in the summer of 2010.
That album–and its deluxe re-release–produced a record-setting six number one singles and two more top three singles. A ubiquitous album that established Katy Perry as the reigning queen of pop, “Teenage Dream” ended up selling more than 2.7M copies to prove the singer-songwriter was not simply the woman behind the latest interchangeable voice on the radio. She was a uniquely recognizable, ardently supported pop star. She was someone who, moving forward, should have the ability to sell serious quantities of albums.
The difference between Perry’s profile upon launching lead single “California Gurls” in 2010 and upon closing the album’s cycle in 2012 was one of night and day.
And since commencing the “Prism” campaign this summer, Perry’s star has only grown.
“Roar,” her first cut off the album, became an instant smash and scored the best weekly download mark of her career. It made Perry only harder to avoid and sparked incredible buzz for the “Prism” release. It made October 22, the release day, seem more like a pop culture event than an album release day.
A total of less than 300,000 copies–or, realistically, anything under 450,000–does not jibe with that build-up. It does not reflect the exponential growth in star power and fanbase that came after “Teenage Dream” moved 192K units in its first week.
It, at best, reflects what a hit album would do in its debut week. It does not befit a monster release and certainly does not establish “Prism” as a pop culture phenomenon.
Even more trouble comes from the notion of comparison. Two weeks ago, Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz,” which came from an artist who has a smaller fanbase, a significantly less dominant position in pop music and no momentum from her previous release (2010’s flop “Can’t Be Tamed”), moved 270K copies.
Many wanted to call that total a flop. If one felt 270K was a disappointment for the first release from the rebooted, unproven Miley, he must be positively horrified by the Perry record only selling 270-290K in its opener.
Katy Perry’s “Prism” will surely claim number one on Billboard 200. But the real story is not that Katy has another number one; it is that for all the success of “Teenage Dream,” all the fans she has amassed, all the excitement over “Roar” and all the hype she and her label generated for “Prism,” Perry has yet to prove she can generate significant opening-week interest.