2007: By The Numbers, In Bigger Than The Sound

We break down the music industry's past 12 months, including 50 Cent's retirement promise, Nicole Scherzinger's perpetually delayed LP and more.

On The Record: The Numbers Of The Year

If you go by the numbers (or, really, any other indicator), 2007 was the worst 12-month period the music industry has ever seen . Sales of albums were down some 15 percent from ’06, continuing an eight-year trend of redefining the term “scraping the bottom of the barrel.” The “Dreamgirls” soundtrack set the record for the lowest chart-topping sales total (66,000 copies) then shattered it the following week (60,000). Will.I.Am’s solo effort, Songs About Girls, was outsold by an Iron and Wine record , The Shepherd’s Dog. By 10,000 copies. People quibbled over the difference between 320 and 160 kilobits , debated whether the Billboard 200 even mattered anymore and tried very hard to tell the difference between Finger Eleven and OneRepublic (hint: one of them is from Canada).

Yes, it was bad times all around … so bad, in fact, that no mere essay could encapsulate it all. But the numbers don’t lie. So, in order to rub salt in the wounds/ kick a man when he’s down/ flog a dead horse/ get out of writing an actual column this week since it’s almost the end of the year and I’ve mentally checked out, I’m presenting 2007: By the Numbers, a list of figures, digits and stats that accurately sums up the year that was, and is almost entirely based in fact (surely a first for Bigger Than the Sound).

I’m also including a couple of reader top 10s that were submitted after my massive 20 Best Albums of 2007 column from last week. Boy, you guys sure hate Against Me!

(Oh, and this will be my final BTTS of the year. I’ll be back in 2008, provided the contents of this column don’t get me fired. Happy holidays, everyone.)

And now … let’s get numeric:

» Total sales of Nickelback’s All the Right Reasons, Daughtry’s Daughtry, Carrie Underwood’s Carnival and Some Hearts, Fergie’s The Dutchess and Miley Cyrus’ Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus as of December 9: 19,847,303 copies

» Total number of “High School Musical” soundtracks sold as of December 9: 7,004,406 copies

» Total sales of the Arcade Fire’s Funeral, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Some Loud Thunder and LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver as of December 9: 455,347 copies

» Approximate number of year-end lists topped by any of those three albums: 4,589,668 (and counting)

» Approximate size of the chasm between consumers and critics, in miles: 5,879 (and counting)

» Projected first-week sales of Will.I.Am’s Songs About Girls: 100,000 to 120,000 copies

» Actual first-week sales of Will.I.Am’s Songs About Girls: 20,876 copies

» Rumored age of “teen” sensation Lil Mama: 29

» Approximate number of times I made the exact same joke in this column: 4

» Amount of time, in days, between the release of Good Charlotte’s Good Morning Revival and them falling completely off the cultural radar: 5

» Number of people who just read that and went, “Holy crap, Good Charlotte released an album this year?!?”: 4,477

» Total worth of 50 Cent’s “I’ll retire if Kanye West beats me” promise, if you held it in one hand and a quarter in the other: 25 cents

» Despite realizing that, the percent of my entire being with which I hoped it would be true: 100

» Number of promised (threatened?) release dates for Nicole Scherzinger’s solo debut, Her Name Is Nicole, multiplied by number of singles released from the album that failed to impact in any way whatsoever: 12 (4 dates x 3 singles)

» Percent sure I am that Her Name Is Nicole will see the light of day in 2008: 23

» Amount of feet my jaw dropped when I was informed what Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” was really about: 5

» Number of countries that is probably illegal in: 27

» Number of times I was actually afraid of bodily harm because of something I wrote: 4

» Number of times that fear was brought on by the phrase “50 Cent is filming a live concert a couple of floors below us, and he’s not happy”: 1

» Number of times I had to follow something negative I said about much-buzzed-about act the Black Kids with the phrase ” … the band” so as not to offend those around me: 548-plus

» Pounds of crow I was forced to eat when I ended up putting the Black Kids’ “Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You” on my Best Singles of 2007 : 16

» Total number of people who downloaded Radiohead’s In Rainbows on October 10 : somewhere between 0 and 10,000,000

» Total amount of money Radiohead made in the In Rainbows windfall: somewhere between $0 and $10,000,000

» Total difference, in kilobits per second, of the encoding on the download-only version of In Rainbows and a “high-quality” MP3: 160

» Number of Radiohead fans enraged by said kilobit-per-second difference, who are apparently also bats gifted with supersonic hearing: somewhere between 0 and 10,000,000

» Actual audible difference between download-only version of In Rainbows and a “high-quality” MP3: 0

» First-week sales for Britney Spears’ Blackout : 289,712

» Total number of times I was convinced Britney Spears would be dead within the next two days, and therefore refrained from writing mean things about her in my column: 289,712

» Number of conversations I had with fellow employees about Rihanna, Hannah Montana and/or Jordin Sparks that were borderline disturbing/illegal, given the age of the subjects: 98

» Number of pornographically harrowing/amazing blog posts written by Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox: 65

» Number of said posts that were actually pornographic: 1

» Number of Bigger Than the Sound columns published in 2007: 35

» Number that didn’t contain petty, somewhat baseless insults hurled at Panic! at the Disco, Gym Class Heroes, New York Jets running back Thomas Jones and/or Rivers Cuomo: 6

» Number that disappeared from the Internet soon after complaints from publicists at large and a multinational corporation that rhymes with “Tunaversal Fusic Troop”: 1

» Number of angry e-mails I received from radio DJs with names like Spike, Lazlo or Dash after the Why Are Radio DJs So Dumb column of June 6 : 55

» Number of angry e-mails I got from a Thrice fan/employee at the Guitar Hangar in Brookfield, Connecticut, that encouraged me to “go [eat] sh– from a dying whale’s ass” and were signed “Someone with far better musical taste than you”: 1

» Number of apologetic e-mails I received from the owner of Guitar Hangar after he read his employee’s e-mail and “spoke to him about sending out this kind of e-mail from our company’s e-mail system”: 1

Cleaning Out My Inbox (Or “Interactivity, While A Touchstone Of So-Called ‘New Media,’ Is Actually Overrated And Kind Of A Waste Of Time”)

Like I said, last week I dropped my 20 Best Albums of 2007 list. And I asked for your feedback. What I got was a couple of angry e-mails (one from a really indignant dude with an AOL account named after a Thursday record who chided me about “only focus[ing] on supposedly ‘indie’ records that are packed with just enough hooks and retro influence to gain attention from the undeservedly pretentious ‘blogosphere,’ ” then included a list containing several of said “indie” records) and a bunch of really good lists. I’ve compiled some of them below.

1. The National, Boxer
2. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
3. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
4. Apples in Stereo, New Magnetic Wonder
5. Jens Lekman, Night Falls Over Kortedala
6. The Rosebuds, Night of the Furies
7. The Good, the Bad & the Queen, The Good, the Bad & the Queen
8. Menomena, Friend and Foe
9. Georgie James, Places
10. Radiohead, In Rainbows
-Rusty, Stranded in Stereo

1. M.I.A., Kala
2. Wu-Tang Clan, 8 Diagrams
3. Boys Noize, Oi Oi Oi
4. Jesu, Conqueror
5. Underworld, Oblivion With Bells
6. The End, Elementary
7. Atreyu, Lead Sails Paper Anchor
8. White Stripes, Icky Thump
9. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Baby 81
10. Hail Social, Modern Love & Death
11. Ulrich Schnauss, Goodbye
12. Patrick Wolf, The Magic Position
13. El-P, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead
-Corey, New York City

1. Silverchair, Young Modern
2. Kenna, Make Sure They See My Face
3. Ween, La Cucaracha
4. Radiohead, In Rainbows
5. Lily Allen, Alright, Still
6. Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, It’s Not Big, It’s Large
7. The Projection People, Monotony Forgotony
8. Malajube, Trompe-L’Oeil
9. The Sleepy Jackson, Personality
10. Björk – Volta
-Tyler, Madison, Wisconsin

1. Radiohead, In Rainbows
2. Thrice, The Alchemy Index, Vol. I and II
3. Caspian, The Four Trees
4. The National, Boxer
5. Moving Mountains, Pnuema
6. Crime in Stereo, Is Dead
7. Look Mexico, This Is Animal Music
8. Battles, Mirrored
9. A Wilhelm Scream, Career Suicide
10. Daggermouth, Turf Wars
11. Jesu, Conqueror
12. Cassino, Sounds of Salvation
13. Maritime, Heresy and the Hotel Choir
14. Modern Life Is War, Midnight in America
15. Say Anything, In Defense of the Genre
16. Crippled Black Phoenix, A Love of Shared Disasters
17. The American Dollar, The Technicolour Sleep
18. The Kidcrash, Jokes
19. The Allstar Project, Your Reward … A Bullet
20. Sunset Rubdown, Random Spirit Lover
-Angry dude with Thursday-inspired AOL address, somewhere in the wilds of the Internet (but probably Sayreville, New Jersey)

OK, I’m out … but if you have any questions, concerns or quandaries, feel free to hit me up at BTTS@MTVStaff.com.