Nearly two weeks and two apologies later, country singer Morgan Wallen who was immediately condemned by the music industry to use a racial slur, is still No. 1 on the charts – and his sales have increased.
Earlier this month, in a clip released by TMZ, Wallen was seen on camera casually yelling at the anti-black slur after a night of drinking with friends. The next day, his topping music was removed from radio stations and streaming service playlists, and his label vaguely said it suspended Wallen’s contract.
In a five-minute video released last week, the singer, one of country music’s biggest new stars, said he was wrong and that he was sorry for his language. “It is up to me to take ownership of this and I fully accept the sanctions I face,” Wallen said.
But those reprimands have not greatly affected his commercial status, with Wallen’s latest album, “Dangerous: The Double Album,” now spending its fifth week in a row at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart with a response of 150,000 sales in the United States. Wallen’s songs were streamed 146 million times, slightly lower than 154 million the week before, but his traditional album sales rose 49 percent to 37,000, more than enough to maintain his No. 1 reign.
Wallen’s previous album “If I Know Me” from 2018 also saw an increase last week and jumped to No. 10 on the chart, its highest position ever, up from No. 17 the week before, Billboard said.
Just as Wallen’s behavior has begun some soul-searching in Nashville, where questions of racial inequality in country music have long been papered over or brushed aside, some supporters of the singer have portrayed him as a victim of so-called “Cancel culture.”
In his apology video that followed an earlier written apology, Wallen described the incident as part of a “72-hour bender”; he said he had been sober ever since.
“One thing I’ve already learned that I’m specifically upset about is that my words mean something, that words can really hurt a person, and at my core, that’s not what I feel good about,” Wallen said. . “This week, I first heard some personal stories from black people that honestly shook me.”
In response to the sales boom, singer and songwriter Jason Isbell, whose composition “Cover Me Up” was covered by Wallen in “Dangerous,” said last week that he would donate some of his proceeds from the album to the Nashville chapter of the NAACP. “Thanks for helping a good cause, folks,” Isbell wrote on Twitter and addresses Wallen’s listeners.
Also on this week’s chart, “The Highlights,” a collection of hits by Weeknd that was released ahead of its Super Bowl performance, is No. 2, largely thanks to streaming. “Medicine at Midnight”, the new album by Foo Fighters, is No. 3, Memphis rapper Pooh Shiesty’s “Shiesty Season” debuts at No. 4, and Lil Durk’s “The Voice” dropped to No. 5 from No. 2.
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