Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Hits The Charts – And Why That Matters (Maybe)

Amazon-US Best Selling CDs - Feb 2, 2012

This is the first of three posts on this topic. The final two posts are

Old Ideas Ranks High Among Amazon Best-selling CDs

While Leonard Cohen’s albums have traditionally done well in certain regions (Norway and Denmark, for example), the high rankings of Old Ideas among best-selling albums in Canada, across Europe, and especially in the US are unprecedented.

These screen captures from Amazon sites (US, Canada, Europe) and Empik (Poland) were taken February 2, 2012. (Note: Old Ideas will not be officially released until February 3, 2012 in Australia and some other countries.)  Click on thumbnails to view.

Feb 2, 2012 iTunes Top 10 Albums By Country

click on image to enlarge

iTunes Top Albums By Country - Feb 2, 2012

Old Ideas Market Performance: Incremental Sales Increase Vs Game-changing Shift

To put these accomplishments in context, consider the rankings achieved by Leonard Cohen’s two most recent studio albums prior to Old Ideas:1

  • 2001 Cohen’s 10th studio album Ten New Songs reached #1 in Poland and Norway, #4 in Canada, and #143 in the US; #13 on Top Internet Albums chart
  • 2004 Cohen’s 11th studio album Dear Heather reached #1 in Denmark and Poland, #2 in Norway, #5 in Canada, Ireland and Portugal, #8 in Sweden, #9 in Belgium, #13 in Austria and Switzerland

Heck, note Cohen’s own bewilderment when confronted with the notably limited success of his 1988 I’m Your Man album, which was

number one for seventeen weeks in Norway. “That was very strange,” Cohen says. “Every single household in Norway must have had a copy. It was indispensable for family life.”2

Turning Norwegian And Other Possibilities

So, why is Old Ideas – at least thus far – competing more successfully in the sales arena than its predecessors?  Is it simply Cohen’s best album ever? Has the entire world become more Norwegian?

Well, maybe, but there is another possibility, to be explored in a followup post, the implications of which may  render the Old Ideas sales phenomenon as significant as the album’s music.

Update: This is the first of three posts on this topic. The final two posts are

  1. From Timeline And Awards Of Leonard Cohen []
  2. Growing Old Disgracefully by Ian Pearson. Saturday Night, March, 1993 []

7 Responses to Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas Hits The Charts – And Why That Matters (Maybe)

  1. The performance of “Old Ideas” is absolutely remarkable for a Cohen release. Clearly Sony’s decision to promote Leonard, basically for the first time ever, has a lot to do with it. Full page ads Sunday in the L.A. and N.Y. Times and the Times Square billboard. I recall watching a tape years ago of L.C. accepting some award, and he sarcastically thanked his record company “for the modest interest they have always shown in my career”. No longer. Here is a link to another discussion of this phenomenon:
    http://www.ukmix.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=3563328

    • No problem. There are lots-o-quotes I can pull. Besides, I can use all the help I can get, and I always prefer readers/commenters who get the joke.

  2. As a follow-up, Billboard confirms that Leonard will have is first ever US Top 10 next week:

    http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/record-labels/lana-del-rey-aiming-for-no-2-debut-on-billboard-1006061752.story

    • OK, I’m a tad miffed that you’ve used both the “modest interest” quote and the Billboard reference I was saving for my followup post, but I do admire your incredibly acute and perceptive thinking – that happens to be congruent with my own notions.

  3. Dr. H – just delete my posts – I look forward to
    reading the followup. Evidently were it not for this Lana Del Rey lady LC would be #1 everywhere!

  4. Leonard Cohen proves just how timeless he is with “Old Ideas”! It’s a great album that has a huge effect on music today. I’ve seen all these covers pop up of new artists taking on Cohen classics. Check this one out by a brand new indie act, Cults. I love what they did with “Everybody Knows.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/feb/01/new-music-cults-everybody-knows

  5. Pingback: Who’s King Of Pop Now? Rhonn Mitchell Rhonn Laighton Mitchell