Popular Problems

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Popular Problems
LeonardCohenPopularProblems.jpg
Studio album by Leonard Cohen
Released September 19/22, 2014
Recorded 2013-14
Genre Contemporary folk, folk pop, soft rock
Length 35.56
Label Columbia
Producer Patrick Leonard
Leonard Cohen chronology
Old Ideas
(2012)Old Ideas2012
Popular Problems
(2014)
Live in Dublin
(2014)Live in Dublin2014

Popular Problems is the thirteenth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen,[1] released on September 19, 2014 in Friday-release countries (such as France and Ireland) and on September 22, 2014 elsewhere.[citation needed]

Overview[edit]

Most of the songs were new, though Cohen did debut "Born in Chains" onstage in 2010 and "My Oh My" was played during a soundcheck the same year.

The 2010 version of "Born in Chains" differs radically in terms of arrangements and singing compared to the 2014 studio version, and the song itself was first performed as early as 1985, during an (unofficially recorded) soundcheck in Europe. The early version used earlier lyrics set to the music which later become the song "I Can't Forget", released on Cohen's 1988 record I'm Your Man. Through the years, Cohen referred to the song as "Taken Out of Egypt", reciting it on show in 1988, and humming it to the new melody in 2005 documentary Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man.[2]

"A Street" was recited by Cohen in 2006, during promotion of his book of poetry Book of Longing, and later printed twice, as "A Street" in the March 2, 2009 issue of The New Yorker magazine,[3] and as "Party's Over" in Everyman's Library edition of Cohen's Poems and Songs in 2011. Both versions include a verse referring to 9/11.

"Nevermind" was published as the poem in 2005 on The Leonard Cohen Files website, and in Book of Longing in 2006. In 2015, it was used as the opening credits theme of the second season of the HBO series True Detective.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 86/100[4]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[5]
Cuepoint B+[6]
Exclaim! 9/10[7]
Mojo 4/5 stars[8]
Pitchfork Media 7.6/10[9]
The Telegraph 5/5 stars[10]

Upon its release the album received uniformly positive reviews from critics, with Metacritic tallying 26 positive reviews for an aggregate score of 86, designated on the site as "universal acclaim".[4] Thom Jurek of AllMusic wrote that, at 80 years old, "Cohen not only has plenty left in the tank, but is at his most confident and committed" and called it his best album since 1992's The Future.[5] The New York Times gave a moderately positive review, calling Cohen "one of rock’s most profound aphorists" but dismissing the "bouncy country" production of "Did I Ever Love You" as the album's "major misstep".[11] Neil McCormick of The Telegraph called the album "a masterpiece".[10]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album peaked at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 20,000 copies in its first week.[12] In its second week, the album fell to number two behind Bryan Adams's Tracks of My Years, with sales of 10,500.[13] As of January 2015, Popular Problems has sold 68,000 copies in Canada.[14]

In the United States, the album debuted at No. 15 on Billboard 200, No. 1 on Folk Albums and No. 4 on Top Rock Albums, with 20,000 copies sold. The album has sold 67,000 copies in the US as of May 2015.[15]

Track listing[edit]

Written by Leonard Cohen and Patrick Leonard, except where indicated

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Slow"   3:25
2. "Almost Like the Blues"   3:28
3. "Samson in New Orleans"   4:39
4. "A Street" Cohen, Anjani Thomas 3:32
5. "Did I Ever Love You"   4:10
6. "My Oh My"   3:36
7. "Nevermind"   4:39
8. "Born in Chains" Cohen 4:55
9. "You Got Me Singing"   3:31
Total length: 35:55

Personnel[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[16] 6
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[17] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[18] 1
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[19] 2
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[20] 1
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[21] 1
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[22] 1
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[23] 1
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[24] 2
French Albums (SNEP)[25] 2
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[26] 4
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[27] 6
Irish Albums (IRMA)[28] 2
Italian Albums (FIMI)[29] 5
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[30] 1
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[31] 1
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[32] 3
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[33] 1
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[34] 3
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[35] 5
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[36] 1
UK Albums (OCC)[37] 5
US Billboard 200[38] 15

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[39] Gold 7,500*
Canada (Music Canada)[40] Platinum 80,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[41] Platinum 20,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[42] Platinum 20,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[43] Gold 10,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[44] Silver 60,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Date Region
19 September 2014 Friday-release countries (such as France[45])
22 September 2014 Worldwide

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Leonard Cohen Releases 'Popular Problems' on September 23, 2014. A Dynamic studio album of new songs". Leonard Cohen. August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Born in Chains- 2005 "performance" - leonardcohenforum.com". 
  3. ^ "A Street by Leonard Cohen". The New Yorker. March 2, 2009. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Reviews for Popular Problems by Leonard Cohen". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2014-10-13. 
  5. ^ a b Jurek, Thom. "Leonard Cohen Popular Problems". AllMusic. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert (October 31, 2014). "Expert Witness". Cuepoint. Retrieved October 31, 2014. 
  7. ^ Lang, Alison (September 19, 2014). "Leonard Cohen Popular Problems". Exclaim!. Retrieved December 12, 2014. 
  8. ^ Simmons, Sylvie (November 2014). "Shine your light: Leonard Cohen Popular Problems". Mojo. p. 86. 
  9. ^ "Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems Album Review - Pitchfork". 
  10. ^ a b "Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems, review: 'a masterpiece'". 
  11. ^ "Albums by Leonard Cohen, Otis Brown III and Lee Ann Womack". The New York Times. 23 September 2014. 
  12. ^ "Weekly Music Sales Report and Analysis: 02 October 2014 - A Journal of Musical Things". 3 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Weekly Music Sales Report and Analysis: 08 October 2014 - A Journal of Musical Things". 10 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Bliss, Karen (January 27, 2015). "Nielsen: Canada Loved Taylor Swift, Streaming Music and, Yep, Vinyl in 2014". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Upcoming Releases". Hits Daily Double. HITS Digital Ventures. Archived from the original on May 10, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Hung Medien.
  17. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems" (in German). Hung Medien.
  18. ^ "Ultratop.be – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  19. ^ "Ultratop.be – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems" (in French). Hung Medien.
  20. ^ "Leonard Cohen – Chart history" Billboard Canadian Albums Chart for Leonard Cohen. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  21. ^ "Czech Albums – Top 100". ČNS IFPI. Note: On the chart page, select 201440 on the field besides the word "Zobrazit", and then click over the word to retrieve the correct chart data.
  22. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Hung Medien.
  23. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  24. ^ "Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  25. ^ "Lescharts.com – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Hung Medien.
  26. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH.
  27. ^ "Top 40 album DVD és válogatáslemez-lista – 2014. 39. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ.
  28. ^ "GFK Chart-Track Albums: Week {{{week}}}, {{{year}}}". Chart-Track. IRMA.
  29. ^ "Artisti - Classifica settimanale WK 39 (dal 22-09-2014 al 28-09-2014)" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  31. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  32. ^ "Oficjalna lista sprzedaży :: OLiS - Official Retail Sales Chart". OLiS. Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  33. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Hung Medien.
  34. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Hung Medien.
  35. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Hung Medien.
  36. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Hung Medien.
  37. ^ "Leonard Cohen | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart
  38. ^ "Leonard Cohen – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Leonard Cohen. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  39. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 10 October 2014.  Enter Leonard Cohen in the field Interpret. Enter Popular Problems in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  40. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". Music Canada. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  41. ^ "Certificeringer" (in Danish). International Federation of the Phonographic Industry of Denmark. Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016. 
  42. ^ "Polish album certifications – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  43. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Leonard Cohen; 'Popular Problems')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  44. ^ "British album certifications – Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 11 February 2015.  Enter Popular Problems in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  45. ^ "'Popular Problems' - Leonard Cohen". Fargo Vinyl Shop. Retrieved September 21, 2014.