The music industry was in a very different place 13 years ago. Record stores were thriving, profits were record setting and certain Tuesdays each year were marked as “Super Tuesdays,” when the various record labels would roll out several major releases at once, often resulting in fans making multiple purchases and sales surging. One such Tuesday was September 11th, 2001. It’s interesting to look at the albums that were scheduled for a release on such a day, both in how they reflect the pre-9/11 industry as well as how some would go on to define the decade. This is our look at 9/11’s Super Tuesday.
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Probably the most well-known 9/11 release, as well as the first No. 1 album in the wake of the terrorist attack was Jay-Z’s fifth album The Blueprint. While he hinted at the shifting of his sound to more album-centric pop sensibilities on 2000’s The Dynasty, The Blueprint became the template for what constitutes the modern idea of a “classic” album. There’s the catchy single, the aggressive affirmation, the self-reflection and the Earth-stopping guest feature.
Love & Theft
What’s interesting about 2001 is the weird era of rock greats of yesteryear having relevant critical and commercial success with entirely new releases. Aerosmith started the year with Just Push Play, Mick Jagger closed it with Goddess in the Doorway and amidst this Bob Dylan had the most acclaimed of all of them with Love & Theft. Going gold, it went on to top 2001’s Pazz and Jop and Rolling Stone‘s Best-of lists.
Nickleback – Silver Side Up
9/11 also gave us Nickleback’s international breakthrough Silver Side Up. Power by “How You Remind Me,” their hard rock crooning had slowly begun penetrating American rock radio and finally found a nesting ground in the bleak atmosphere of that fall.
It’s weird to look back at what rock was popular in 2001. The nu-metal rock rap of the late-90s had weirdly morphed into heart-on-sleeve vulnerability that still found a way on the hardest guitars possibly. The same year that Staind became a household name, P.O.D.’s family friendly angst-rock was the melodic frustration a post-9/11 haze seemed to connect with.
Rockin’ The Suburbs
Of all the things people wanted to do on September 11th, laughing was not one of them. Regardless, Ben Folds’ solo debut Rockin’ The Suburbs still managed to hit No. 42 on the charts. But the sentimental and often tongue-in-cheek songwriting was Folds at his sharpest, allowing the record to find a second life as something of a cult classic, including Folds’ own G-Rated re-write of the title track becoming the theme to the 2006 Dreamworks animated film Over the Hedge.
Live Scenes From New York
Of all the eerie coincidences of the September 11th releases, the biggest one has to be that not one, but TWO albums depicting the World Trade Center being on fire were released on the very same day as the attacks. Both The Coup’s Party Music and Dreamtheater’s Live Scenes From New York had the World Trade Center lit aflame, and were immediately recalled, making both treasured collectors items among fans.
God Hates Us All
Also boasting an unfortunate timing was metal icons Slayer’s God Hates Us All. There are tales of the promotional free shirt that arrived with the album getting students across the country in trouble at school that week, namely because the article of clothing allegedly had in big letters “GOD HATES US ALL: 9-11-01.” This is perhaps the only time in educational history when “No, it’s just my Slayer t-shirt” could be used as a viable defense.
Poor Mariah. This album and the film that accompanied both did so laughably bad long-time fans of the diva began questioning their devotion to her, and Mariah herself began questioning her own sanity.
Finally, we have obscure novelty rappers Bad Ronald. A huge misnomer of the post-Eminem pre-Macklemore world is the idea that white rappers are in any way easy to market. Around that time,The Neptunes struggled with Lee Harvey, Bad Boy struggled with Kain and when it looked like their might be more money in more white rappers came the label creation Bad Ronald. Consisting of handpicked white rap talents of different scenes (most notably DJ Deetlax of Minneapolis rap collective Oddjobs), Bad Ronald received MTV rotation thanks to the the Marc Klasfeld directed clip “Let’s Begin (Shoot the S***)” The group were also among the first to be filmed in post-9/11 PSAs for MTV, but never achieved much memorable as a unit outside of an infamously seething Rolling Stone review declaring “Finally the Bloodhound Gang have someone to look down on.”