There are probably a few people out there who are firmly in the Kelly Clarkson camp that are currently wondering how Clarkson's latest album, Stronger, has yet to be certified platinum while Carrie Underwood's latest, Blown Away, has -- even though Blown Away has recorded over 170,000 less units sold.
What? Yes, that is correct. To date, Clarkson's Stronger has sold 920,000 copies, as opposed to the 749,000 sold by Undewood's Blown Away.
But the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified Underwood's album platinum this past week, AmericanIdol.com reported. And although Stronger was certified gold in December, it has yet to be certified platinum. Even though it is a mere 80,000 copies away from the threshold.
Underwood's achievement makes her the first "American Idol" alumnus to have four albums reach platinum status.
For those that are involved in the whole Kelly vs. Carrie thing, the Kelly fans are undoubtedly frustrated and annoyed, while the Carrie fans are most likely ecstatic, and understandably so. But how is it that Underwood got certified platinum while her album is still a very comfortable more than a quarter million in sales away from the one million in sales plateau that albums have to achieve to get the award?
The RIAA certifies the album by units shipped (minus returns). They also have access to sales data from far more outlets than does Nielsen Soundscan, which is where most statistics for album sales are tracked. This means that an album's sales reported through Nielsen Soundscan isn't an actual count of units sold, simply because it does not incorporate all sales outlets. Of course, the RIAA method is also inexact, considering that sales may not be actual, either, due to the lag between shipments, sales, and returns of units shipped. However, of the two as regards units sold, the RIAA tracking is a more accurate system.
And that Carrie Underwood's Blown Away has been certified platinum indicates that the album has shipped and sold at least one million copies by the time it was issued its certification. At the same time, Clarkson's sales and shipments apparently have not reflected such sales as yet, despite being only a few tens of thousands short of the certification mark. It is also a testament to the strength of Underwood's history of sales. All three of her previous albums are certified multi-platinum (2 million or more in sales), with her first album continuing to sell well and having surpassed 7.2 million in sales to date. Clarkson's last album failed to go platinum, despite getting extremely close (over 940,000 units sold). In fact, her last two albums have failed to sell one million copies (the threshold), the sales appearing to all but dry up even though the albums include several hit songs each. My December, which was certified platinum, never reached 900,000 in actual sales, so the RIAA just might be biding its time until Stronger actually achieves the one million sales figure.
In the overall sales tally, although Clarkson reportedly has an edge in sales worldwide, Underwood leads in total album sales in the U. S. with nearly 13.4 million units sold to date against Clarkson's almost 11.7 million. And that includes Clarkson having one more album in the running than Underwood.
Blown Away returned to the Billboard 200 Top 10 this past week, according to Brian Mansfield at USA Today's "Idol Chatter," and climbed back into the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Country Albums chart, its sixth cumulative week there since being released in May.
Still, Clarkson doesn't play second to Underwood where singles are concerned (except on the country charts, of course, where Underwood has 12 No. 1 hits). In fact, the title track from the latest album, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," surpassed Underwood's biggest seller "Before He Cheats" in July to become the biggest selling single for an "American Idol" alumnus. Both songs continue to sell well, but "Stronger" has taken a commanding lead of nearly 150,000 copies. The Texas singer also has ten Top 10 Hot 100 singles, with three No. 1's to her name. Underwood has four and one, respectively.
As for Clarkson's Stronger album, the question remains: Will it go platinum? This past week, it only pulled in 5,000 in sales to get to 920,000. Still, those are strong numbers for an album that has been on the charts since late October 2011. It would appear that Stronger will most likely get its platinum certification in a matter of weeks.
Regardless, Kelly Clarkson is at work on her next album. According to Billboard, the songs for her next album -- her sixth -- are already recorded. They're just waiting for Stronger and its train of hit singles to slow down enough to prompt a release.
And Carrie Underwood? She's pushing for another No. 1 song on the country charts with "Blown Away," the title track to her album.
Both "American Idol" alums look to see their albums and singles sales increase in November after Underwood hosts the 46th Annual Country Music Awards. And adding fuel to the fire of a Kelly vs. Carrie competition will be that both women are up for the Female Vocalist of the Year award.
(photo credit: Keith Hinkle, Wikimedia Commons)