This could end up being a fascinating experiment: Whitney’s new album was leaked over the weekend and will be ubiquitous by the time of its official release in a month. What will sales be like when it is released? The writer of this report, Roger Friedman, (of course) assumes sales will takn as a result – but what if they don’t?
- It’s all over the Web: Whitney Houston’s new album, Just Whitney… It was leaked in its entirety sometime over the weekend to lots of Web sites and downloading services. It can be burned onto CDs, distributed for free and will likely turn up on street corners before the end of this week.
The record industry, in other words, is about to sink like the Titanic. Houston was paid $100 million by Arista Records last year in a new deal that includes this album.
Interestingly, at the same time, Santana’s new album, Shaman, which Arista will release on Tuesday, also seems to be all over the Internet. (Maybe Arista has a problem somewhere in its company with disgruntled employees.)
What a situation though for Houston. Her album is not due to be shipped until Nov. 26, and the version available on the Web may not be the finished one. The Web version offers only 10 tracks plus a bonus remix of “Whatchulookinat.” That’s a pretty short album any way you look at it.
But what’s even more interesting is that the album, which I downloaded last night (thanks to mp3delivery.com), is good — really good, if you like Whitney Houston’s brand of bland admonishments mixed with terrific vocals. There’s nothing daring here, nothing that catapults Whitney into the league of Aretha Franklin or Gladys Knight.
The album does have at least three or four potential hit singles, starting with a power ballad called “On My Own,” which recalls Houston’s signature hit “I Will Always Love You.” You won’t want to, but I guarantee you’ll be singing along with it in the car in traffic very soon.
Also in the plus column are a mid tempo R&B number called “Love That Man,” a real Top 40 song called “Dear John Letter,” and two duets — one with Santana called “Tell Me No” and another with her husband Bobby Brown entitled “My Love.”
One more track, the catchy “Unashamed,” fills out a theme that Houston offers lyrically that she’s empowered, independent and ready to take on the world. You might think the lady doth protest too much; Just Whitney… may be the most melodic answer the National Enquirer has ever received.
….The bigger question though is what happens when an entire album is available for free in a mass form a whole month before its release date. Even if Arista were to pounce this morning on the Web sites with cease and desist orders, one would think the damage was done over the weekend.
Will Arista be smart and emphasize what extras are avaiable on the official CD release that aren’t available from bootlegged, possibly not finished, downloads?
I like Whitney and wish her well, but we all know she doesn’t need the money – this could be a very revealing test case.