Garth Brooks Reclaims Country Music Throne; Man Against Machine #1 On Billboard Charts
Garth Brooks, having just returned from a self-imposed fifteen year retirement during which time Brooks chose to put his career on hold in favor of raising his children, reclaimed the top spot on the Billboard Top Country Album chart with his first studio release in over a decade, Man Against Machine. The honor is a familiar one for Brooks, but is made particularly special due to the fact that the album only saw limited retail release via an exclusive agreement between Brooks and Wal-Mart and has been widely pushed as a digital download, either separate or in a discounted package with the rest of Garth’s library, via his own website, GarthBrooks.com.
Brooks told CMT that he would not be following the album’s performance on the charts, noting that “quality music will show success over time, regardless of initial sales numbers.” None the less, Man Against Machine sold approximately 120,000 copies in the first week, dethroning reigning country darling Carrie Underwood’s Greatest Hits: Decade #1. Due to the unique distribution arrangement for Man Against Machine, Billboards tally will fall well short of actual albums sold, which may prevent it from becoming certified should the album go platinum.
The largest point of contention comes via Brooks’ chosen method for digital distribution. In typical go-big-or-go-home Garth Brooks fashion, unhappy with Apple’s mandate that singles tracks be sold individually, Brooks, long regarded the last iTunes hold out, launched an alternative service called Ghost Tunes which allows participating artists to decide how their content is delivered. In Brooks’ case, the country mega star has long held to the belief that albums should be presented as whole pieces of art and allowing fans to cherry pick singles does a disservice to singles on a record that may not enjoy the benefit of single air play.
The release of Man Against Machine and its subsequent claim on the Top Country Chart solidifies Garth’s comeback. While announcing the album, Brooks also announced another studio album set to release next Fall, the creation of Ghost Tunes, the long-awaited digital release of the entire Garth Brooks back catalog, and a full-fledged return to touring by way of the launch of Brooks’ first world tour since 1999.
Since retirement, Garth has kept his name and his music relevant by way of the release of several boxed sets, as well as a well-received residency at the Las Vegas Wynn showroom. Last year, Garth’s Blame It All On My Roots box set included six genre specific albums of music that Brooks cites as influences and inspirations as well as a DVD of the intimate Wynn performance. Man Against Machine is currently available at Wal-Mart or through GarthBrooks.com for $14.99 or in a super bundle with Brooks’ digital back catalog, including a re-release of his Double Live album and next year’s as yet untitled release for $29.99.