20. Ciara – Fantasy Ride (sales: 202,000)
I’m guessing the economy is pretty bad when Ciara has to give away her album for free at KFC. This album became one of my favorites, and although it wasn’t really cohesive, each track proved to be more interesting than the next.
19. Timbaland – Presents Shock Value 2 (sales: 59,000)
Timbo’s albums usually underperform due to poor promotion, but “Shock Value 2” has been his most diverse set to date. Interesting collaborations include Esthero, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Brandy rapping as Bran’nu.
18. The-Dream – Love vs. Money (sales: 510,000)
Terius Nash’s second solo album continued his lyrical journey through love and its adversaries. This time it’s “love” versus “money”, placing The-Dream at odds with himself over which is more important to him. The result? An amazing R&B album that deserved the Grammy nomination he ever-so-angrily tweeted about.
17. Mariah Carey – Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (sales: 270,000)
Underperforming album sales, cheap video budgets, and an album mainly (not entirely, see #7) produced by the-Dream couldn’t hold back the viral buzz around mariah’s 2009 release. Mainly due to single choices, the album did poorly and is nowhere to be found on the Billboard charts. A remix CD is set to be released in 2010 to further inject interest into the album.
16. Melanie Fiona – The Bridge (sales: 65,000)
Canadian artist Melanie Fiona debuted with “It Kills Me” in 3rd quarter 2009 to positive critical acclaim. The artist has since signed distribution rights with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and has more recently earned a Grammy nomination against Beyonce’ (great accomplishment).
15. Mika – The Boy Who Knew Too Much (sales: 182,000)
Mika’s second studio album was well-praised by the music industry in 2009. Most reviewers were as surprised as I was to see Mariah Carey’s old writer Walter Afanasieff (see “Mariah Carey” thru “Butterfly” albums) producing for him. The album has spun three hit singles to date, including my favorite “Rain”.
14. Daniel Merriweather – Love and War (sales: 207,000)
Without question, my favorite male vocalist of 2009. As one of Mark Ronson’s latest protégés, Merriweather’s debut is probably the closest type of music that encapsulates the vintage soul music movement that has waved through the UK. Although his US success underperformed compared to his UK time, songs like “Water and a Flame” (feat. Adele) and “Cigarettes” became instant Ipod staples.
13. Adam Lambert – For Your Entertainment (sales: 417,000)
As the runner up from Idol 2009, Adam Lambert technically wasn’t supposed to surpass Kris Allen, the actual show winner. However, displaying an open lifestyle and controversial performances /appearances allowed Adam to reach the mainstream with his story. The result – every major writer in the industry (seriously, check the credits for a full list) coming together to produce his debut album.
12. Wale – Attention Deficit (sales: 43,000)
DMV native Wale finally released his first official album this year. Using twitter as his primary means of album promotion, the album received regional and coastal acclaim. Featuring everyone from Lady Gaga and Jazmine Sullivan to Rihanna and Marsha Ambrosious (formerly of Floetry), Wale’s intellectual lyrics shine as a rapper dedicated to the game.
11. Shakira – She-Wolf (sales: 190,000)
Shakira returns to the US market with a set primarily produced by Pharrell and Wyclef. The latter, who I have NEVER been a fan of, managed to give SK some really amazing songs. Pharrell’s songs make you move almost instantaneously while her hard, accent-controlled vocals effortlessly ride his VA style beats…gotta love it.
10. Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3 (sales: 1 million)
The most successful rap mogul returns with exclusive Timbaland and Pharrell beats ($750,000/ each) and unique guest appearances (Mr. Hudson, Drake). Personal favorite: “Thank You”.
9. Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon (The End Of Day) (sales: 390,000)
He had the stoner anthem (“Day N Nite”) and a hard-to-come-by Gaga sample (“Make Her Say”), both of which became hit singles around the world. Cudi’s long overdue rise to prominence in 2009 proved that the indie market does become successful.
8. Mary J. Blige – Stronger withEach Tear (sales: 332,000)
Blige’s ninth studio album may have been her first since 2001’s “No More Drama” to not debut at number one, but for me, this is one of her best works to date. Featuring controlled vocals, feel-good r&b, and a cohesive sound, Mary J. is on her way to success again. 2010 should see the release of the songs “Hood Love” (feat. Trey Songz) and “Kitchen” (feat. the-Dream) which should propel her to platinum plus status.
7. Electrik Red – How To Be A Lady (Vol. 1) (sales: 504,000)
Let me start by saying I fuckin love these four ladies (especially the soft stud lead singer). Having the-Dream write an entire female R&B album proved to be a very profitable format for the songwriter. Club songs, bedroom songs, and a few in the middle (“Kill Bill”), the four ladies deliver a solid debut album.
6. John Mayer – Battle Studies (sales: 580,000)
John’s latest album brings a quality male vocalist to the frontstream. Questionable topics and top 40 pop hits become his speciality. Even Taylor Swift couldn’t resist a duet with him.
5. Amanda Blank – I Love You (sales: 127,000)
Diplo and Santigold’s latest protégé became a female rap phenomenon this year. Featuring electro beats with fun lyrics, Amanda fits right in with where music is going in 2010. Check out “Leaving You Behind” (feat. Lykke Li and Santigold), “Might Like You Better”, and “Big Heavy”.
4. Rihanna – Rated R (sales: 368,000)
Riri’s virally promoted fourth album was cited as the “Pop Album of the Year” by top magazines such as Spin, Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly. The album includes a lot of anger fueled by the use of weapons and pyrotechnics, but also opens the world up to what she endured this year as a human. If “Fire Bomb” gets the single treatment, this is the kind of rock ballad that could save her overall sales.
3. Whitney Houston – I Look To You (sales 1.4 million)
An underdog comeback for Whitney proved somewhat successful this year, including two hit singles and her first #1 album since “My Love is Your Love”. The biographical song “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” was officially endorsed by Oprah one week after the album was released, allowing Whitney to remain in Billboard’s top 20 albums for the remainder of 2009.
2. Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You (sales: 2 million)
Everyone’s controversial Brit returned to music in early 2009 with her second set, receiving some of her highest ratings from US reviewers to date. The songs, unlike her first album, delve deeper into philosophical meanings of life, religion, and acceptance. Spawning five videos designed exclusively by Karl Lagerfield for Chanel, Lily’s album was later remixed by various hip hop producers to additional acclaim.
1. Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster (sales: 5.8 million)
The true “monster” of 2009, but I give props where they’re due. Gaga did something different for the game by creating her own sound, even questioning Beyonce’s status as the top artist of the year. But like I’ve been saying, if you’re not on her yet, I can bet money that you will be after seeing the upcoming “Telephone” and “Monster/Alejandro” videos. 2010 will be another great year for Gaga!
Sorted by sales
20. Wale – Attention Deficit (#12) – total: 43,000
19. Timbaland – Presents Shock Value 2 (#19) – total: 59,000
18. Melanie Fiona – The Bridge (#16) – total: 65,000
17. Amanda Blank – I Love You (#5) – total: 127,000
16. Mika – The Boy Who Knew Too Much (#15) – total: 182,000
15. Shakira – She-Wolf (#11) – total: 190,000
14. Ciara – Fantasy Ride (#20) – total: 202,000
13. Daniel Merriweather – Love and War (#14) – total: 207,000
12. Mariah Carey – Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (#17) – total: 270,000
11. Mary J. Blige – Stronger withEach Tear (#8) – total: 332,000
10. Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon (The End Of Day) (#9) – total: 390,000
9. Rihanna – Rated R (#4) – total: 368,000
8. Adam Lambert – For Your Entertainment (#13) – total: 417,000
7. Electrik Red – How To Be A Lady (Vol. 1) (#7) – total: 504,000
6. The-Dream – Love vs. Money (#18) – total: 510,000
5. John Mayer – Battle Studies (#6) – total: 580,000
4. Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3 (#10) – total: 1 million
3. Whitney Houston – I Look To You (#3) – total: 1.4 million
2. Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You (#2) – total: 2 million
1. Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster (#1) – total: 5.8 million