Yes, Lionel Richie is back. The New York Times says most kids today know Richie through his daughter Nicole's appearance on reality show "The Simple Life" and then implicitly criticizes him for using that connection. "He's done little to distance himself from his daughter," they write. Uh, should he? Besides, Lionel has too much fun talking in the third person when talking to hot young music producers. “I asked them, ‘What does Lionel Richie sound like in 2006?’ ” Mr. Richie said, “And they said, ‘The same way he sounded like in 1976 — we’ll just bring you new beats.’ ” At least he's keeping his sense of humor: “I’m waiting for the Viagra people to call me and ask to use ‘All Night Long.’ ”
But in my never-ending fight against lazy use of record company hype, the New York Times claims Richie has sold more than 100 million albums (not records, which might include singles, but albums). Let's look at the facts: as a solo artist, Richie's debut sold 4 million copies in the US, "Can't Slow Down" sold 10 million and "Dancing On The Celing" sold 4 million. None of his other CDs have gone more than platinum. With the Commodores, none of their albums are certified more than platinum. Being generous, with the Commodores and as a solo artist, Richie sold 30 million albums. Assuming he did almost as good overseas, that would equal 50 million albums worldwide or at most 60 million. That's a big, impressive number, but it's not even close to 100 million albums. Where did the NYT get its figures? Probably from a record company press release. And not to kick a man when he's down, but "Can't Slow Down" won the Grammy for Best Album when a better winner would have been the Police's "Synchronicity," Billy Joel's "An Innocent Man" (his best album), or about ten other albums that weren't nominated.