Paul Simon’s “Stranger to Stranger” is the biggest album of his 51-year career. According to “Billboard,” on June 14, 2016, at the age of 74, Simon achieved the No. 1 placement on both the Top Rock and the Americana/Folk charts, which is his highest achievement since 1987. “Stranger to Stranger” sold 67,000 copies in its first week, which landed the album at No. 1 on the Top Album Sales chart too.
He started his career as half of Simon and Garfunkel but “Stranger to Stranger” is Simon’s 13th solo album. In 2011, Simon’s “So Beautiful, or So What” debuted on the Top Rock Albums chart at No. 2, which sold slightly more albums. The Top Rock Albums chart was started in 2006, and the Top Americana/Folk Albums chart was started in 2009.
“The New York Times” reported that “Stranger to Stranger” debuted on the “Billboard 200” chart at No. 3, which is Simon’s highest placement since his “Graceland” album 29 years ago. Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” was No. 2, and Drake’s “Views” was No. 1 for the sixth straight week. Drake’s sales have been plummeting, but his streaming has been steadily high keeping him at the No. 1 position.
“Stranger to Stranger” also debuted at No. 1. on the charts in Great Britain. Simon has been a hit-maker and he continues to create powerful and meaningful music, which inspires people to stream his music and then actually purchase the entire album. It was these sales, which made “Stranger to Stranger” Simon’s biggest album in his 51-year career.
“Star Tribune” discusses how Simon has now been able to take advantage of the modern luxuries and innovations in order to revamp some of his older music and produce unique new music. During a concert at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis, Minn., on June 14, 2016, he played a wide range of his music from the modern hits from “Stranger to Stranger,” all the way back to the hits from the beginning of his career.
Simon is focusing his efforts to incorporate different types of music styles into his older songs. In the past, he had limited production options. Without computers to aid in the production process, musicians and their producers were required to create and record their music live and without interruptions. Today, the different parts of a song can be recorded separately and blended later to create the final product.
Not only is Simon revamping his older hits, new artists are also making their own covers of his music. Disturbed created a cover of the 1966 Simon and Garfunkel hit, “The Sound of Silence,” which sat at the No. 1 spot on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart for seven weeks, earlier in 2016. “The Sound of Silence” has dropped to No. 9 but remains a top 10 hit in June 2016. The original, “The Sound of Silence” was recently used as the background music during a promotion for “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
There is a reason Simon continues to create hits, leading up to the biggest hit album, “Stranger to Stranger,” in his 51-year career. Simon is a two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member for his work as Simon and Garfunkel and his solo work. The music he created for the Disney hit movie, “The Lion King” is another example of his musical genius and the quality of the music he creates. Simon is not new to breaking records and at the age of 74, he continues to stay true to who he is, and the music he creates.
Opinion by Kristina Lasher
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Billboard: Paul Simon Debuts at No. 1 on Top Rock & Americana/Folk Albums Charts
The New York Times: Drake and Beyoncé Get New Company on the Chart: Paul Simon
Star Tribune: Review: Rhythmic Paul Simon finds pleasure in his performance
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