When Chinese Democracy make its debut on the Billboard 200 tomorrow it will be further proof, as projected numbers indicate, that Axl waited far too long to unleash his overlaboured epic.
Despite the similar marketing structure as Black Ice - ACDC's surprisingly strong selling album of stock rock released in October - that included video game crossover gimmicks and exclusivity deals with retailers that position records as shopping basket throw ins, as opposed to those vulture circling music stores, Chinese Democracy appears on track for financial mediocrity to go along with the majority of its reviews.
Billboard and other sources are predicting 250,000 - 300,000 in first week sales for Democracy, well under the 500,000 to 750,000 mark industry was predicting for such a high-profile "event" record (download sales are projected around the 25K mark). This means Axl will likely be taking a backseat to Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreaks and couldn't outsell Beyonce's numbers last week. Perhaps the toughest pill to swallow for hard rock fans, however, is a second place showing to the Killers's Day & Age in England. Even in Australia, Democracy struggles to outpace sales of Kings of Leon.
A currently spiralling economy certainly didn't help Axl's cause, even though he had the moderate benefit of a Black Friday shopping environment. But the real reason can be summed up in a lyric from Chinese Democracy's title track - "All I have is precious time." So not only did Axl allocate a decade and half of his creative life to one stinking album, but he waited long enough to witness the near death of CD retail first hand.
It's even sadder to see Rose, instead of launching world tours, launching his lawyers on soft drink companies immediately after to drum up cash. Still trying to protect his brand, maybe it's time to come to terms with the fact the GnR brand isn't that lucrative anymore, and maybe your life's purpose should be creating music rather than exhaustively protecting it.
Chinese Democracy isn't even as dismal an effort as these commercial standards suggest, in fact it's quite a compelling listen for its intricacies, exploration of ideas and originality. However, there is not a single enduring hit on Chinese D, and seems destined for cult status only to be appreciated 20 years from now. Right around the time Axl Rose, at this pace, will be releasing the follow up.