’93 certs music to RIAA’s ears

The Recording Industry Assn. of America reported that total certifications for 1993 have already surpassed last year’s total, with more expected once December’s tally is registered.

To date, the RIAA has certified 521 albums either gold (500,000units sold), platinum (1 million units) or multiplatinum (2 million or more units). That total beats last year’s tally of 509. The complete year-to-year comparison will be available in January.

No indication of the music industry’s strength for 1993 can be gleaned from the RIAA report, as record companies certify both current and catalog releases. Diskeries have been mounting campaigns to certify back catalog over the last two years — something they previously shunned — leading to inflated totals of gold and platinum albums.

Good news expected

However, the generally upbeat sales reports for the first 11 months of this year should see the RIAA report a record harvest of gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums in January.

One indication of that is the number of debut artists in the RIAA list. Some 45 artists achieved gold status or higher, including kids’ favorite Barney the Dinosaur, whose “Barney’s Favorites Vol. I” was certified double platinum. The year’s top-selling new artist is Toni Braxton, whose self-titled album was certified double platinum.

Also taking home their first awards were Blind Melon, the Cranberries, the Proclaimers, Radiohead, the Sundays, Inner Circle, Shabba Ranks and Snow.

To date, 142 albums have been certified multiplatinum, 147 platinum and 232 gold. Leading the parade is Arista Records’ soundtrack to “The Bodyguard,” which has become the first soundtrack to attain that status since 1987’s “Dirty Dancing.” The album is the first to hit 10 million since Garth Brooks’ 1990 disc “No Fences.”

Secure in its slot

“The Bodyguard” was powered by Whitney Houston’s hit single “I Will Always Love You, which became the second single in RIAA history to top the 4 million mark, joining 1985’s “We Are the World.”

Also scoring high on the multiplatinum album scorecard was Kenny G’s “Breathless,” which was released by Arista on the same November 1992 week as “The Bodyguard.” The G manhas hit the 5 million mark, joining Janet Jackson’s Virgin Records debut, “janet.” They are the top-selling new releases by male and female artists for 1993.

Jackson also had two platinum singles, “Again” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.”

Plugging along with 4 million albums sold for 1993 was Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged,” which has sold 7 million units since its August 1992 release. Clapton, celebrating his 30th year in the music business, also saw his solo album “Slow Hand,” his Blind Faith self-titled release and his Cream albums “Disraeli Gears” and “Strange Brew” certified gold or platinum.

Rounding out the 4 million club was Mariah Carey, whose “Music Box” has screamed out of the box since its August bow. Both the album’s lead single, “Dreamlover,” and its follow-up, “Hero,” have been certified platinum.

The 3 million category is rather crowded, featuring albums from Brooks, Dr. Dre, Alan Jackson, Billy Joel and the soundtrack to “Aladdin.”

Brooks’ “In Pieces” was the top-selling country album of the year, but it was joined by earlier arrival Jackson, whose August 1992 album “A Lot About Livin’ (And a Little ’bout Love)” crept to triple platinum this year. Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” was the year’s top rap album, also spawning the gold single “Dre Day” and a platinum single for “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang.” Of note, per RIAA, is MC Lyte’s “Ruffneck,” which became the first gold single awarded to a solo female rap artist when it attained 500,000 units sold in November.

Magic soundtrack

Walt Disney Records’ “Aladdin” soundtrack is that company’s highest certified soundtrack ever. The company also had a huge year in the singles market.

Finally, Joel’s “River of Dreams” made the veteran singer the second-highest multiplatinum male solo artist in RIAA history. Joel now has nine career multiplatinum titles, trailing only Elvis Presley’s 12 multiplatinum discs.

Two double-CD sets went platinum in 1993: Neil Diamond’s “Greatest Hits 1966- 1992” and James Taylor’s “Live” were platinum, while gold awards went to the multibox sets by the Beach Boys (“Good Vibrations”), Journey (“Time3”), Led Zeppelin (“The Complete Studio Recordings”), Pink Floyd (“Shine On”), “Hitsville USA — The Motown Singles Collection” and “The Music of Disney — A Legacy in Song.”

The RIAA reports 18 singles were certified multiplatinum in 1993, 16 of them by Disney. Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was the big seller at 4 million units, followed by the 2 million copies of Wreckx ‘n’ Effect’s “Rump Shaker.”

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