And The Winner Is… Lionel Richie?

Dave Iannacone

Well the race is on, once again, for the new number one album in the country. If you asked anyone over the past few months what would be taking the top spot this week, the answer would have easily been Madonna’s MDNA. However, it appears that the Queen of Pop is facing some stiff competition from none other than Lionel Richie. But wait, it doesn’t end there. Richie’s Tuskegee is a re-recorded Greatest Hits package, Country-style. Every track is completely re-imagined to fit the genre and in collaboration with Country stars old and new, including Willie Nelson, Rascal Flats, Shania Twain, Blake Shelton, and Jimmy Buffet. Meanwhile, the highly anticipated MDNA, which features all new material, is looking like it might have to settle for second place.

So how is this happening? Madonna has literally never NOT been successful, and she’s recently coming off the success of a top-10 single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’” and a still buzzed about Super Bowl half-time show. Not to mention she set the record for largest one-day pre-order sales in iTunes history. Lionel Richie has made his fair share of appearances recently, but hasn’t had a top-20 hit since 1987, and out of the six albums he’s released since then, only one has gone top-10, let alone top-20. It seems almost completely ridiculous that Mr. Richie could just come out of nowhere with a re-recorded hits package and take the wind of Madonna’s sails, and believe me, she was sailing smooth. Well the answer is actually pretty obvious: Country music. It sells like hotcakes. The most irrelevant artists can sell like hotcakes, no matter how old or insignificant to mainstream music.

Oh, so Lionel Richie is just a genius. He signs with Universal Nashville, records a bunch of songs that people already know with a bunch of artists that everybody likes, in a genre that sells more than all the others combined. We’ve got to give it up for him. I don’t know if Lionel even likes Country music, but he clearly knew exactly what he needed to do. Now, nothing’s set in stone until Billboard announces the final result, but considering Tuskegee has been sitting on top of both the Amazon sales chart and the iTunes album chart since its release, it’s a pretty safe bet what will land at number one. In all fairness, MDNA was also being sold as part of a promotional deal when you bought a concert ticket to her upcoming tour, none of which will be counted towards the chart. However it really seems that Mr. Richie has bested ex-Mrs. Richie (different guy,) with one of the most ingenious moves that any completely irrelevant artist has done in recent years.