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Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

Since we've been discussing the performances of "No Sound But A Heart" and "The Lover In Me," I was wondering what everyone's thoughts were as to why "What Comes Naturally" didn't do well as a single or album? When the single came out, I thought it was a great accompaniment to "The Lover In Me" single, but again was way different from earlier Sheena Easton. The song and video were great and Sheena never looked hotter then she did all glammed up in the video. BTW, the guy who appeared in the video was actor Johnathon Schaech. I liked the album alot, but it wasn't one of Sheena's strongest efforts. I loved "To Anyone," "Forever Friends," "Half A Heart," "You Can Swing It," and "What Comes Naturally."

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

I think What Comes Naturally failed because Sheena played it too safe. I think she should have stayed in the R&B direction of The Lover In Me instead of going in a more dance/pop direction. Would have been great to hear more collaborations with Prince, La&Babyface, and Angela Winbush. Perhaps due to the failure of "Days Like This" at r&b radio, they decided to go back a bit more on the pop side. What Comes Naturally failed because it was too pop for R&B radio and too R&B for pop/dance stations. There was even an article in Billboard stating this at the time. It was a huge hit on the stations that played it but some wouldn't add it because it wasn't "Hard" enough. It was an interesting time on radio.

You Can Swing IT didn't stand a chance and SHeena knew it - she didn't even put up the money for a video. Then she realized the album was over and set off to do Broadway. Hoping for a return to a more adult sound for her afterwards.

I just think she had a good shot at becoming a legitimate r&b artist - even if it was in a more adult direction. Like 'Fire & Rain", "No Ordinary Love" etc...

If I were her manager, I would've convinced her to keep challenging herself vocally by working with the best R&B producers/writers, instead of second rate MCA execs(Denny Diante), the white dude from the System (David Frank), and Paula Abdul's Opposites Attract producer (Oliver Lieber).

"To Anyone" was just a contractual release. No promotion at all...

Poor Sheena. That being said. I like the album. I think "Half A Heart" was a single waiting to happen. "Time Bomb" and "Manic Panic" are pretty cool songs too but not very commercial. Her own song "The Next Time" should have been left for a b-side. It's the only weak song on the album.

Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

I simply think the competition at that time was to start growing bigger and bigger. Paula Abdul was around, and although she is a pretty bad singer she can better sell dance videos. Dancing in videos became more and more important and Sheena always looked a little stiff while dancing. WCN I loved from the beginning and in my opinion it was a real stretch after The Lover In Me. Radio stations also were important on how successful a single or album would be. Stations more and more dropped the 80s artists then and gave new people a chance. I always wondered what happened to the follow album of WCN, because it's written on Wikipedia that Sheena did another Dance/R&B production after WCN and before No Strings, but pulled it due to the commercial failure of WCN. However, I believe her tour at that time (1991) went really well...

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

My faves from WCN are To Anyone, Half A Heart, and Forever Friends. I wondered why You Can Swing It was even released at all, it was so weak.

I think Sheena's attention and energy were diverted away from the music industry. In her Carson interview (watch it on Youtube), she says that she was planning concerts at the end of the year (WCN was released in the 1st quarter of 1991). So I think she did plan on promoting it. But then the offer to do Man of La Mancha came along, and she took up that challenge instead. Which wasn't too bad a move in spite of what the critics said. After all, Sheena has said in interviews that she was tired of the music treadmill and wanted to do something new.

Also, don't forget that music in the early 90s was moving in the direction of rap (I'm sorry, I don't even consider that singing!). And music performers were dancers more than singers (which is the case today still).

Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

I thought the title track was a brilliant song and Sheena looked really great around this time. I remember reading a review in 'smash hits' magazine in the uk. It was by their guest reviewer Jason Donovan (aussie singer/soap star) and he said that if the song had been released by an unknown, it would've been massive but because it was Sheena, he didn't think it'd do that well.

Not one of my favourite albums but still pretty good

Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

I like "What Comes Naturally" although it is not an album I play alot by Sheena. I love the extended video mix of the title song.
I also think "You Can Swing It" was a great song and was a good choice as the second single as it blended well with the current trends of the early ninties although I would have preferred some better mixes of the song and abit more upbeat.
I have brought this up before on another topics but MCA in the US god knows what they were thinking when releasing and distributing Sheena's singles, why no 7" vinyl singles for all three singles not everyone had CD players then and people were still buying vinyl although in decline and to release "To Anyone" as a cassette single only had no chance of charting and no official CD singles for all three.
Germany is the only country I'm aware of who released all three singles on vinyl which I managed to obtain over the years and gave "You Can Swing It" an official CD single release.
Also no videos for "You Can Swing It" and "To Anyone" was the final nail in the coffin regarding chart positions.
I think MCA let her down badly which started with the distribution and promotion of singles from "The Lover in Me" and got worse with "What Comes Naturally"

Blair
x

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

I also think that the song and the album had the misfortune of coming after all "The Lover in Me" singles that didn't do that well. That probably meant that radio wasn't going to jump on playing any of the material, no matter how good it was. I don't really like that album, but I did think the first single was really catchy.

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

"What Comes Naturally" did very good as a single, making Top 20 in America, and some European countries.
In Australia it became her biggest hit in years, reaching #4.
The single was promoted very well (thanks to a very good video ), and Sheena was on all the talk shows during that period.

But the album...when I bought it, I was very dissapointed, thinking it was her worst album.
It doesn't show off Sheena's vocal talents at all.
The album didn't get good reviews either.
I wasn't such a big fan of that "new jack swing" genre that was so hip in the early 90's (It also faded away as quickly as it came).

I think WHAT COMES NATURALLY just drowned in all the other albums around that time...and kinda "proved" that Sheena was a singles artist rather than an album artist. Though most female singers of the 80's were singles artists - Sheena was no exception. Laura Branigan and Kim Wilde were the same.

"What Comes Naturally" was the best song on that album, so I guess most people were happy just buying the single and not the whole album.

Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

I don't agree that Sheena was a singles artist and if it took ten years to prove to someone that she was, then that is my point exactly. All of her albums were consisitent sellers selling close to or above 500,000. Even the albums that had no hit singles, sold well up until "What Comes Naturally". At that point, Sheena suffered from what most artists that have successful runs of ten years - she was considered an "80's" artist and any attempt to make her sound contemporary was going to be resisted from radio. "Singles" artists do not sell albums, unless they have a huge hit. That was not the case with Sheena. She sold well regradless of her singles - of course she sold a bit better when there was a hit, as is the case with any artist. But for a pop artist, she was a steady, consistent, seller. Rolling Stone magazine even detailed this in an article about EMI losing key artists when they merged. Their point in the article was that it was unlikely EMI wanted to let go of Sheena, as her albums were all close to or at gold certification, even though some of them did not feature a top ten single, they noted this was rare for a pop female artist.

Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

In the US the 7" single by the start of the '90's was in the dinosaur stage and the LP record followed suit in less than a year.
Although WCN was not released on 7" vinyl in the US it did come out as a cassette single (cassingle) as did You can swing it and To anyone and they were all widely available. Just about all singles were issued in that format back then in US unlike most other countries which still held on to the vinyl format. I have the UK picture sleeve 7" issue of What comes naturally for instance.

WCN is notable at least because it was the last Sheena album to be released in all 3 formats of vinyl LP, cassette and cd.
As I'm sure you know there were US 12" remix record issues of WCN and You can swing it as well as 12" promo records and promo cds with additional remixes. WCN for intance boasted 2 US promo cds - one had 5 mixes and the other 6 mixes.

I liked the WCN album a lot btw but it was not a strong album. Fave tracks are the title track (perhaps the best Sheena video), Somebody (the only real love song on the album), and Half a heart (even though it sounded Paula Abdulish.)

Sabeha

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

Re: Charlie's message. I love Sheena, but I don't think it's accurate to say that her albums were consistent sellers. "Madness, Money & Music" peaked at US 85 and was off the chart in three months. "You Could Have Been With Me" didn't earn gold certification until Oct. 1984, nearly three years after its release. Her album sales pretty much reflected the success of the singles from each disc. "Best Kept Secret" didn't go gold, and I recall reading that "Do You" earned gold certification based on initial shipments (not counting returns). I think if she had been an "album" artist, she would have continued to chart after "What Comes Naturally," but those discs completely missed the U.S. chart.

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

The charts were done differently back then - it was based on how stores reported you on their chart - and their was a lot of manipulation by record companies back then. Sheena's actual sales were all at or above 500,000. Billboard actually reported the actual sales figures back when she left EMI. By the way, Madness actually sold a bit more than "You Could Have Been" and "Best Kept Secret". They attributed this to the HBO & NBC specials she did that year. Do You sold nearly 500,000 out of the gate. There was more excitement about that release due to the Platinum success of A Private Heaven and the fact that Nile Rodgers produced. Unfortunately, no hit single, meant no massive album sales figures.

I do agree that her fate tied to radio airplay did affect her album sales in the 90's - people just did not know she had an album out. Happens to every artist (album or singles artists) as they get older, except in those rare special marketing genious ideas (special "themed" albums tend to do well for older established artists).

She clearly was not your typical female pop artist in the 80's as she didn't need a big radio hit to sell at or above gold cert.

Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

But if "Madness" & "Best Kept Secret" had actually sold at those levels, wouldn't EMI have petitioned the RIAA to get them certified? The labels have to petition, and as she was still actively with EMI through '86, that gave them plenty of time to get those two discs certified. "You Could Have Been With Me" was certified three years after its release, as it re-charted in 1983 -- it seems like that disc benefited as opposed to "Madness."

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

Also, you can search "Billboard" for the mag's stories on Sheena: http://books.google.com/books?lr=&as_pt=MAGAZINES&q=%22Sheena+Easton%22+&btnG=Search+Books&as_coll2=+issn%3A0006-2510+ -- not sure if this link has been posted before, but it's fun to browse the stories.

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

The manager/artist usually have to request for the record company to certify albums - and there is a cost. There are plenty of albums out there that are not accurately certified - which now in the days of Soundscan are more obvious. It seems to be important to acts when it is a current release (which is why "Do You" was so quickly certified. They usually want to show the public that the current album is successful. Perhaps Sheena/Harriet never requested certs for those two albums? Wouldn't be the first time they tried to save a buck or two...

Unfortunately, not all the Billboard articles regarding Sheena are on-line. You would think they would have the technology to upload all of the magazines from the past but for some reason only a few of the articles are included. Would be nice to see all the reviews they have done of her work as well.

Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

I think the timing of the albums was a problem. Since Lover in Me was a hit they should have followed it up sooner rather than wait. Also, Sheena changed direction far too freqently with each album. "Lover" was R&B while WCN was dance/pop and No Strings was standard/jazz and Mc was AC. So, she has to re-establish herself with each new album. And this confuses radio as to how to categorize her.

Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

Quote: Charlie
Billboard actually reported the actual sales figures back when she left EMI. By the way, Madness actually sold a bit more than "You Could Have Been" and "Best Kept Secret". They attributed this to the HBO & NBC specials she did that year.


First: I don't believe MADNESS MONEY & MUSIC sold more than YOU COULD HAVE BEEN WITH ME or BEST KEPT SECRET in America! I'd like to see that Billboard article.
Pre-Soundscand, record companies were very reluctant to relieve the true sale figures of record, even to BILLBOARD.

I believe Sheena's early albums were so-callecd "sleepers" after they fell off the charts (keeping selling in small amounts steadly over a long period), especially after the success of BEST KEPT SECRET. Both SHEENA EASTON and YOU COULD HAVE BEEN WITH ME re-charted in late 1983.

When A PRIVATE HEAVEN was successfully released in October 1984, EMI probably wanted to check out how many copies of her first four albums had been shipped to stores, since they were still selling.
They found that YOU COULD HAVE BEEN WITH ME had surpassed 500.000 in sales and certified it GOLD, but by that time none of the other albums, except SHEENA EASTON (which was certified in 1981), had done so.

Billboard had at that time a Bubbling Under Albums chart (pos. #201->#210), and both SHEENA EASTON and BEST KEPT SECRET appeared there from time to time well into 1985. So it might be that BEST KEPT SECRET eventually sold past 500.000 copies during 1985, but that EMI didn't bother to find out. It was by then a two year old album. Record labels rarely bother to certify old records, it's the latest ones that matters. And especially not since they had already done it in October 1984.

I'm afraid no one will ever know the true sale figures of Sheena Easton's records

Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

I've always thought the poster who wrote that "Madness..." outsold YCHBWM and SE was incorrect. Anyone who lived through that era and paid attention to Sheena's records knows that Madness never had the profile of those other two records. And, as I said before, you can search Billboard online and no article stating such seems to be found...

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

It looked as though WCN was gonna go Top 10 but when the album came out(in the USA) it debuted at 160, then jumped to 90 then dropped to 96 and I think MCA just gave up and stopped promoting the singles and just let the die. I think if the album had been selling better they would have maybe put more of an effort to get radio adds.

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

That's probably right. WHAT COMES NATURALLY only spent 7 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart.

And MADNESS MONEY & MUSIC spent only 12 weeks on the chart, while YOU COULD HAVE BEEN WITH ME spent 53 weeks, and BEST KEPT SECRET 38 weeks.

Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

Quote: MikeG
It looked as though WCN was gonna go Top 10 but when the album came out(in the USA) it debuted at 160, then jumped to 90 then dropped to 96 and I think MCA just gave up and stopped promoting the singles and just let the die. I think if the album had been selling better they would have maybe put more of an effort to get radio adds.


I think top 10 might have been a little too optimistic, as Sheena never had a top 10 album in the States. Also (speculation here) I'm guessing MCA didn't push WCH very hard from the start after seeing the disappointing response to the other Love in Me singles.

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Re: Any thoughts on why "What Comes Naturally" fared so poorly?

I knew someone who worked in promotions at MCA records in 1991. A few weeks prior to WCN (the album) release, he said that Sheena was MCA'S "hottest" artist at the time.

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