Target won't stock gay R&B star Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, cites "guest demand"
Lady Gaga dumps Target over anti-gay donations
Target coverage on Blotter
Frank Ocean has just released arguably the hottest R&B album of the year in Channel Orange, but don't go looking for it at your local Target store. The Minnesota-based chain has unwisely decided not to stock the title by the jaw-droppingly talented singer who emerged from the the Odd Future hip-hop collective in Los Angeles to stardom. He's written songs for Justin Bieber and Beyonce, and collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye West on their Watch the Throne album.
This move looks gross because Ocean recently publicly announced he is gay on his Tumblr page, even if it was a business decision.
You may remember Target made questionable political donations to MN Forward, a PAC that supported anti-gay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer during the 2010 election angered Lady Gaga last year. There are several reasons why this is a stupid move, though.
From Billboard: "Channel Orange is soaring past early, pre-release sales forecasts: at press time, the album looked set to debut at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 next week with a robust 100,000 to 120,000 copies -- nearly all from Apple's iTunes Store."
With its slick orange packaging, this album has endcap potential written all over it. Certainly iTunes -- and smaller, independent retailers -- won't be mad that a brick and mortar major like Target isn't cutting into sales. You can bet that there are a lot of smaller communities around the country where Target is one of the only options for music -- and it doesn't look like Wal-Mart is gonna help much.
Update: Another MN-based company's gonna have it.
album won't be available at target. blame it on a generational gap. best buy on deck though.-- frank ocean (@frank_ocean) July 11, 2012
2. It looks hateful -- even if it isn't
It was all too easy for Frank Ocean's manager, Christian Clancy, to connect the dots between Ocean coming out and Target not carrying Channel Orange . In a now-deleted tweet, he wrote: "Target has refused to carry Frank's album because of iTunes exclusive, interesting since they also donate to non-equal rights organizations." Clancy admitted this was a knee-jerk response to the decision, but he's not the only one who jumped to that conclusion.
Target responded with this statement: "The claims made about Target's decision to not carry the Frank Ocean album are absolutely false. Target supports inclusivity and diversity in every aspect of our business. Our assortment decisions are based on a number of factors, including guest demand.
"Target has a longstanding tradition of supporting music and artistry that reflects the diverse landscape of American culture. Our history of partnering with diverse artists includes recent partnerships with a variety of musicians, such as Ricky Martin, B.o.B., and Gloria Estefan.
Some of their best friends are gay and/or ethnic, eh? While it's true that Target can know you're pregnant before your family finds out, it's tough to suggest that "guest demand" could predict that this not-even-released-yet title wouldn't be a hot seller for the hip-aspiring chain. Ponder that orange endcap again, and take a guess at how many copies of Estefan's Little Miss Havana will sell this week.
Update: Fuse received an additional tidbit from the company, "At Target, we focus on offering our guests a wide assortment of physical CDs, so our selection of new releases is dedicated to physical CDs rather than titles that are realized digitally in advance of the street date." As opposed to just selling "the best music available in a given week..." thus:
3. The music, dummy
It's increasingly rare in the singles-driven world of pop music that an R&B artist can make an album as beautiful as Channel Orange. In recent years, artists like Maxwell, R. Kelly, Lloyd, Jazmine Sullivan, Bruno Mars, and Janelle Monae have been among the exceptions to this rule, but this release is like a citrus scrub for the soul. Within, "Thinkin' Bout You" is one of the great testaments to love delivered wrapped in silken falsetto. Goosebumps. "Bad Religion" ups to the story of unrequited love between one man and another -- a story that needs telling. And then there's "Pink Matter," featuring the wisdom of Outkast's Andre 3000. All figures into something sumptuous. Target's loss.
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