The news of the sales count for Nelly Furtado's latest album The Spirit Indestructible must have hit Nelly fans like a ton of bricks. Then again, there obviously aren't that many Nelly fans left to begin with, because according to SoundScan sales, she only sold 5,731 copies of her new album.
This is heartbreaking. Nelly's last English-language album, 2006's Loose, was a blockbuster. It sold 219,000 copies the first week and went on to sell roughly 2 million copies in the U.S. alone. The gap between the first-week sales of Loose and The Spirit Indestructible is not just a drop in record sales, it's an evaporation of a fan base.
Yes, record sales have been on the decline in the industry for some time, but there's no sales climate in which it's acceptable for a major-label artist to post numbers like that during the first week. Not after the label has dropped serious cash and resources pushing three singles ("Big Hoops," "The Spirit Indestructible" and "Parking Lot") that were basically declared dead on arrival.
Some might try to argue that Nelly would've been better off if she had paired up with Timbaland. Their chemistry in 2006 was undeniable, but given Timbaland's recent struggles with landing hits of his own, that's probably not necessarily the case in 2012.
Others might point out that Nelly's disappearance from the English-language pop scene for 6 years essentially made her irrelevant to today's crowd. Perhaps, but Nelly has always taken roughly 4-year breaks between albums. Alicia Keys also takes lengthy breaks between her albums and she just scored a hit with her comeback single "Girl on Fire". So, no, Nelly's absence alone doesn't explain the drop-off.