Four year ago, Train had run off the rails. The band was on an extended hiatus of undetermined length, possibly forever. But during that break, the three key members, Pat Monahan, Jimmy Stafford and Scott Underwood, began to miss each other, and, moreso, the music they created together. They switched management companies, changed up some other key behind-the-scenes personnel, but, more importantly, altered their attitude and focused on the pluses of being together, rather than the minuses. The result? Not just a comeback single,but “Hey Soul Sister” is the top-selling tune of the year for iTunes. That means it sold more than any song by Katy Perry, Eminem, Rihanna or Ke$ha, all of whom got the lion”s share of the attention. Not only that, according to Billboard, “Hey Soul Sister” is the only song by a rock band to land in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 all year.
1) Train (last week, not ranked): “Hey Soul Sister” sells a staggering 4.6 million downloads. Clearly many people feel “a game show love connection” to “Sister.”
2) Carrie Underwood (not ranked): She”s crowned the big winner–with six trophies, or guitars as the case may be here—at the inaugural American Country Awards. If an artist wins an award on a barely seen awards show does it still count?
3) Class of 2011 (not ranked): What do Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, Dr. John and Darlene Love all have in common? They are the inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2011, according to Hits Daily Double–although the official announcement doesn’t come out until Wednesday. See Alice, school is never really out.
4) Jim Morrison (not ranked): Nearly 40 years after his death, The Doors front man has been pardoned by the state of Florida, cleared of his indecent exposure charge from a 1969 concert. Wherever he is, the Lizard King is laughing his ass off.
5) Aretha Franklin (not ranked): The Queen of Soul, and simply one of the most powerful voices and forces in music for five decades, is diagnosed with cancer. Sending her nothing but get well wishes.
6) Doug Morris (not ranked): Once Lucian Grange took over, some folks were all too ready to put the UMG chief out to pasture, but it looks like he will find yet another life as CEO of Sony Music–in his 70s. If it comes to pass, that means he”s headed three of the four major record companies: Warner Music Group, UMG and Sony.
7) Barry Weiss (No. 4) : As Morris possibly comes to Sony, the talented Weiss leaves to go to UMG. Will he take a bevy of Jive artists with him as soon as he”s able?
8) Spotify (not ranked): The ad-supported streaming service, already big in Europe, announces that it won”t launch in the U.S. by year”s end as had been planned. Whether Spotify is ever able to make a go of it in the U.S. remains to be seen but it has made the industry sit up and seriously pay attention to ad-supported and subscription models in a way, after other players have failed.
9) Susan Boyle (not ranked): You may not listen to her– and radio barely plays her– but someone sure as hell is. For the second straight holiday season, she”s dominated the charts. She is “The Gift” that keeps on giving.
10) Howard Stern (not ranked): He tells listeners that he has re-signed with Sirius XM. Sources say the five-year contract will pay the King of All Media for $400 million or as the Daily Beast broke it down: $2,008/minute on the air.