The Voice has caught flak for years due to its failure to launch a Clarkson- or Underwood-level recording artist. And while Season 9 winner Jordan Smith isn’t quite in that illustrious category, he has done what many other Voice winners could not (or simply were not given the opportunity to do). He’s actually a sales success story.
Smith’s first album, Something Beautiful, just debuted on the Billboard album chart at #2 – ironically right behind former Voice coach Gwen Stefani – and it also went to #1 on the iTunes and Amazon album charts. (The Billboard 200 takes into account album sales, track sales, and track streams.) This is the highest ranking on the charts for any TV singing competition winner in nearly five years, and it’s the highest album sales debut from a new artist in 2016 so far.
It obviously goes without saying that Smith’s 54,000 tally is the highest first-week album sales for any Voice winner, too. The previous record was held by Season 3 champ Cassadee Pope, whose debut album Frame by Frame sold 43,000 copies in its first week, followed by Season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery, whose self-titled debut raked in a first-week total of 41,000. The Voice’s only other big first-week sales story, aside from Pope and Bradbery, is Season 3 top six finalist Melanie Martinez, whose Cry Baby (on Atlantic Records) sold 41,000 when it was released in August last year.
The Voice (or, more specifically, its associated Universal label) has been notorious for not promoting the series’ alumni. Three past winners – Season 2’s Jermaine Paul, Season 6’s Josh Kaufman, and Season 7’s Craig Wayne Boyd – never put out post-Voice albums at all, and Season 8’s Sawyer Fredericks has still only released an EP almost a year after his win. Other contestants (Season 1’s Javier Colon, Season 5’s Tessanne Chin) released albums that quickly came and went.
Smith, on the other hand, received an impressive amount of promotion for Something Beautiful – performing on the People’s Choice Awards, singing the national anthem at the NHL’s Winter Classic, appearing on The Today Show last week, and even getting some prime ad placement during Fox’s broadcast of The Passion Live.
It probably also didn’t hurt that Smith got an album out in record time (only three months after his win) – or that the album was executive-produced by The Voice producer Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey, and released in conjunction with Burnett and Downey’s faith-based Lightworkers Media company.
Perhaps the show’s powers-that-be, and Universal/Republic Records, listened to Smith’s irate coach, Adam Levine, when he threw shade in their direction at the Season 9 finale press conference.
It remains to be seen if Smith can match Pope and Bradbery’s long-term album sales (roughly 180,000 and 136,000, respectively); those two ladies are still the show’s overall top sellers.
Additionally, we will have to wait and see if this is just a fluke, or if Smith’s success is a sign that the Republic/Voice post-show promotional machine has finally kicked into high gear. That will become more apparent when we see the first-week sales for Season 10’s winner down the road.