CSPC: Bob Marley Popularity Analysis


Physical Singles Sales – Part 2
Rastaman Vibration (1976) – 93,000 equivalent albums

Johnny Was – 30,000
Roots, Rock, Reggae – 250,000
Positive Vibration – 30,000

Exodus (1977) – 741,000 equivalent albums

Exodus – 420,000
Waiting In Vain – 270,000
Jamming – 430,000
One Love / People Get Ready – 510,000
Three Little Birds – 320,000
Natural Mystic – 30,000
Why Should I/Exodus – 60,000
Turn Your Light Down Slow – 430,000

Kaya (1978) – 381,000 equivalent albums

Is This Love – 500,000
Satisfy My Soul – 160,000
Sun Is Shining – 610,000

Roots, Rock, Reggae remains the only song from the singer that ever made the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US. It peaked at a modest #51 position, although that was enough to push the Rastaman Vibration album to #8.

Songs from the album Exodus are the striking example of the incremental exploitation of Marley‘s catalog. In the UK, which was by far his main market for singles, three of its tracks were released as singles to solid success. The title track went to #14, Waiting In Vain to #27 and Jamming to #9 over a span of 7 months, a fairly standard promotional campaign for a hit album. It wasn’t over yet though.

The continuous increase of his popularity, culminated by Could You Be Loved in 1980, led Island Records to release Three Little Birds as a single in late 1980. The song did well by peaking at #17. Failing to chart in 1982 was the release of Natural Mystic. The medley One Love / People Get Ready dropped in 1984 to promote the best of Legend, hitting #5. Quickly, Waiting In Vain got a new run with a #31 peak. Three Little Birds was then re-run too going to #76 in 1985. Many years later, in 1992, Why Should I / Exodus was out to promote the Songs of Freedom box set, the single went to #42. Turn Your Lights Down Low charted at #15 when it was sampled featuring Lauryn Hill in 1999 to support the remix album Chant Down Babylon while Jammin’ followed in its footsteps in 2000 to less success as the song stopped at #42.

In total, the album Exodus has been home to 11 singles-eras over the course of 4 distinct decades thanks to which 6 of its songs are now over a quarter of a million physical singles sales.

On a lower scale the album Kaya also enjoyed the various re-runs of old songs. While both Is This Love? and Satisfy My Soul did well upon release, Sun Is Shining was a #3 hit in 1999. A new remix of Is This Love? also managed to go to #16 as recently as in 2016, but we will see that inside the section related to digital sales…

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