Headbanger’s Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’sBram and Zach take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.
As you may have heard by now, Limp Bizkit have sold over 27,000 copies of their new album Gold Cobra, cracking the top 20 in its first week. We’ve already explained in this week’s Metal By Numbers why this is a huge surprise to us (as if it wasn’t obvious). In this week’s Headbangers Brawl, though, Bram and Zach try to come up with an answer to the question HOW Limp Bizkit beat the odds and sold as many copies as they did.
Bram: I made this statement yesterday in Metal by Numbers, but I’ll use a different example. Lady Gaga sold 1.1 million records the first week. About a third of those people bought it for a dollar, and because it was only $1. Out of the remaining 700,000, people bought it because they liked “Bad Romance,” or her persona, or the way she wears a fucking meat dress or whatever. The quality of the album, which has been pretty widely panned, didn’t matter to those people. They bought it because she was Lady Gaga. That’s why I’m not surprised that people bought the new Limp Bizkit album.
If you’ll remember, about 11 years ago, Limp Bizkit also sold over 1 million copies of Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water in its first week. If you sell a million albums, you’re going to have some residual fans. While most Bizkit fans probably stopped breaking stuff and went on to better things (getting a GED, working their way up to assistant manager at the convenience store etc.), there’s still people that genuinely like the band or bought the new album because it reminded them of their youth. If they were able to hold on to 1/37th of the audience that bought Chocolate Starfish ten and a half years ago, good for them I say.
Zach: I agree with your example to a point, Bram. The thing that’s somewhat different between Lady Gaga and Bizkit is relevance in today’s culture. While Gaga’s album had its bad reviews, she in general is still respected by many critics in addition to having hardcore fans. In other words, at the time the album came out, she had strong credibility (and still does). Bizkit, on the other hand, arguably doesn’t have the same credibility, if any at all, in the eyes of critics and even the average fan. Even in their heyday Bizkit had as many haters as they did fans. And it’s arguable that since last releasing material in 2005, they’ve gained more haters than fans.
I would agree, though, that people possibly picked up the album out of nostalgia reasons. I’d argue, though, that they won back a few fans from performing live. Though they’ve done only a handful of performances in the U.S. (mostly performing outside the country), a lot of those State side performances were at hard rock festivals like the Rock On The Range show last year. Those shows saw them sharing the stage with bands whose fans probably use to dig Bizkit. So seeing them live once again possibly brought back memories of when they were middle school trying to be nice to that cute girl in class just for da nookie. Or hell, maybe it even attracted new fans who lean towards radio friendly hard rock bands. So though their performances were few, it most likely helped out a lot.
B: Yeah, well, it’s gotta be purely word of mouth, nostalgia and the few people that have seen them live. I just checked out national radio airplay and it’s definitely not burning up the charts. I pretty much stand by the fact that all 27,000 people that bought the album picked it up because they really wanted to. It’s a solid number given that rap-metal is about as popular as herpes, despite what Emmure might think.
Z: Comparing rap metal with herpes? That’s a little insulting to herpes don’t you think? It’s true, those 27,000 people wanted that album and knew what they were getting when they picked it up. So imagine how many people illegally downloaded it just for shits and giggles. I guess the real test will be how it does in its second week on the charts.