We’re all under the assumption that record labels know what sells in different international markets. They must have analysts in their payroll that study the international music charts and radio play statistics. Sometimes the labels take calculated risks at releasing an album that does well in one country, into another country. It either pays off or it doesn’t.
Photos from Natasha Bedingfield’s Official Site & Kelly Clarkson’s Official MySpace
Take Kelly Clarkson for instance. The first American Idol winner. While her debut album wasn’t initially released in the UK, her follow up album was, banking on the strength of the first single “Since U Been Gone.” That risk payed off and now Clarkson is an international superstar. Same with UK artist Natasha Bedingfield, who had solid albums with solid sales in the UK. Her success continued with her U.S. release (although it started out rocky).
Photos from Sarah Connor’s Official Site & Emma Bunton’s Official MySpace
On the opposite end of the spectrum, look at former Spice Girl Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) or German pop singer Sarah Connor. Both artists had relatively high amounts of success in their respective countries, but when they released their debut U.S. albums, both floundered. While there’s something to be said for promotion, it was a calculated risk to release these international albums stateside. There’s always a hope that a foreign artist will have crossover success in the international market but that’s not always the case.
Single Artwork Courtesy of Coverlandia
Enrique Iglesias – Takin’ Back My Love
This is when labels get creative. Take international pop star Enrique Iglesias, who released his English language Greatest Hits album in November. The album contains 14 of the artists big singles as well as 3 new tracks. “Takin’ Back My Love” is one of those new tracks and is the second single off the album. To succeed internationally, the label recorded multiple versions of the track to appeal to different audiences. American R&B singer Ciara recorded vocals for the single’s U.S. release, while German singer Sarah Connor recorded vocals (in English) for the German release of the single.
Overall, both vocalists do alright in their respective versions. Ciara, not known for her impressive vocal range adequately sings throughout the track, oozing sex appeal the whole way through. Sarah Connor, known for having a more power voice, takes things down a notch to match the song’s up-tempo electro-pop beats. The Red One-produced song isn’t anything new or different, but it’s certainly growing on me the more I listen to it. I just find this international re-tooling interesting and something worth exploring.