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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 2

Ruben Studdard's remix single 'What If?' with Kayne West opens to dismal sales

By Wade Paulsen, 07/08/2004 

We have no idea what the record is for the largest percentage decline in sales between one commercial single and its follow-up in the first week of release -- but whatever it is, American Idol 2 winner Ruben Studdard may have just broken it.

Ruben's new J Records single, 'What If'', a remix of the song from his Soulful CD that now features Kayne West on additional rap vocals, debuted at #12 on the Nielsen SoundScan U.S. Single Sales charts in its first week of release. It opened below the singles by both of Ruben's companions in the Idol 2 final three: Clay Aiken's 'Solitaire' / 'The Way' on RCA (#2, with sales of about 4,000 units) and Kimberley Locke's '8th World Wonder' on Curb (#11), both of which have been on the charts for 16 weeks, and paled in comparison to Idol 3 winner Fantasia's 'I Believe', which reached #1 with sales of 142,000 copies in its official debut.

Since 'What If' is Ruben's second commercial single, and since his first single, 'Flying Without Wings', sold 286,000 units in its debut and eventually was certified gold for sales of half a million units, Ruben's unit sales dropped by more than 284,000 between his first single and his second. Looking at it another way, Ruben's second single opened with less than 1% of the sales of his first single -- a decline of over 99%. We expect that few (if any) artists have ever recorded a comparable percentage decline between singles.

By contrast, the drop in unit sales between Clay Aiken's first single ('Bridge Over Troubled Water' / 'This Is The Night', 393,000) and second single ('Solitaire' / 'The Way', 100,500) is even greater than Ruben's unit drop, at 292,500. However, Clay's percentage decline was less than 75%, and the six-figure sales debut for the second single was still enough to make 'Solitaire' a #4 hit overall despite its lack of airplay (and #1 by far in the Nielsen SoundScan U.S. Singles Sales charts).

We hope that this shocking sales decline for the "Velvet Teddy Bear" will end when Ruben finally releases some new product whenever that may be not just a remix of old product.

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