15 Years Later: Moby’s Play By The Numbers

by (@sllambe)

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15 Years Ago: The music landscape was a mix of anything goes. Jennifer Lopez released her first album, Lauryn Hill led a rebirth of neo-soul, bubblegum pop dominated TRL, Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit ushered in an era of rap/rock and Moby debuted sleeper hit, Play. When first released, the electronic record was barely noticed. The album seemed to follow the same route as his previous record, Animal Rights. But Moby did something unexpected at the time: He sold out. The artist decided—in an effort to get more airplay and attention—to license out much of his album to commercials, TV and films. The idea seemed to represent a shift in the way artists were willing to let fans consume their music. Many had shied away from the idea of “selling out” viewing it as a quick way to cash in rather than hold their music to a higher standard. However, the move turned Moby into a pop superstar. Suddenly he had a platinum hit on his hands and was not only heard in major films, such as The Beach and Gone in 60 Seconds, but also on the radio. As the album turns 15, we break down the album by the numbers.

12M, the number of copies the album sold worldwide—going platinum in at least 20 countries.

341, the rank on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

38, the highest Play peaked on the Billboard 200 despite record sales throughout the world. Over two million copies were sold in the States.

23, the number awards and nominations Play picked up over the course of two years, including multiple Grammy nominations, MTV VMAs and a win for Visionary Video at the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards.

18, the number of tracks licensed for commercial use. Play was the first ever album to have all its tracks used in film, TV shows or commercials.

14, the highest “South Side” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100. The version featuring Gwen Stefani was his only single ever appear on the chart.

12, music videos were produced for eight different singles. Three were created for “Bodyrock” while “Natural Blues” and “Porcelain” each got two versions.

11, the number of samples used on the album. Most come from the collection of field recordings featured on Sounds of the South: A Musical Journey from the Georgia Sea Islands to the Mississippi Delta.

5, the number of songs Moby actually sang on. They include “If Things Were Perfect,” “Machete,” “Porcelain,” “South Side,” and “The Sky Is Broken.”

1, the number of Oscar nominees to direct a music video. Before he was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Moonrise Kingdom, Roman Coppola directed “Honey.”

Watch a special VH1 Unplugged performance of “Honey” below:

[Photo: V2