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Yes They Did in '08

Lil Wayne, Coldplay, AC/DC Score Big Brass as RIAA Celebrates 2008 G&P Certifications

WASHINGTON – Proving the American music fan’s playlist is as eclectic as ever, three distinctively different but enormously talented artists tied for highest certification honor of the year according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) 2008 year-end Gold & Platinum tally.  Lyricist Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter, Vol. 3, alternative rockers Coldplay’s Viva La Vida and down-under duo AC/DC’s Black Ice each sold more than two million copies to pick up 2x Platinum prestige.

Cash Money/Universal rapper and über Grammy-nominated artist Lil Wayne’s big year began in June when Tha Carter, Vol. 3 reached double-Platinum prestige within only one month of its release.  In October, Capitol rockers Coldplay continued their multi-Platinum reign with their fourth release Viva La Vida, selling more than two million copies. The British band’s best-selling album to date, A Rush of Blood to the Head stands at quadruple Platinum while Parachutes and X & Y are double and triple Platinum respectively.  And last but not least, AC/DC’s highly anticipated first commercial release in eight years --Black Ice on Columbia-- proved the band is skating on the fast track by hitting the 2x Platinum mark in November.

In 2008 three soundtracks proved popular to moviegoers and music enthusiasts alike.  With sales of more than one million copies each, the soundtracks to Twilight (Summit Entertainment/Chop Shop/Atlantic), Mamma Mia! (Decca), and Camp Rock (Walt Disney) each went Platinum.  Additionally, the Now That’s What I Call Music! series continued to be an irresistible sales force, with the latest three installments (Volumes 27, 28, and 29) selling more than a combined three million copies.

U.K. native and former X Factor winner Leona Lewis had a huge debut in ’08 as her first album Spirit on J Records and hit single and mastertone “Bleeding Love” each sold more than one million copies, earning the newly-minted star three Platinum awards.  

Veteran rockers Journey and 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Metallica each earned Platinum honors in 2008 for their respective releases Revelation and Death Magnetic.  Metallica’s heavy metal career sales now surpass 58 million since unveiling their first album in 1983 while Journey’s ride has been one full of precious metals: Revelation is their 11th Platinum album certification to date.  

2008 continued to shine Platinum in the album and ringtone categories for supreme songstress Mariah Carey.  Her 11th studio album E=MC² released on Island Records brought Mariah’s career Platinum album certification total to a glittering 26 since her professional singing debut in 1990. Carey’s “Touch My Body” single off the album also sold more than one million ringtones.

Two Hollywood Records acts and Disney channel stars –Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers– earned quick rank when their respective summer releases Breakout and A Little Bit Longer were certified Platinum by autumn’s arrival. This marked Cyrus’ first solo album certification since breaking out from her hit television series character ‘Hannah Montana.’  Released in ’07, Meet Miley Cyrus: Hannah Montana 2 was certified in ‘08 at 3x Platinum to commemorate sales of more than three million albums.

It was a sweet September for Sugarland whose third Mercury Nashville release Love on the Inside went Platinum.  The year stayed sugary for the country music duo whose Gold certified single ‘Stay’ also won Song of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards and Country Music Association Awards.

March sprung Platinum for surf and singing sensation Jack Johnson for his fifth studio album Sleep Through the Static on Brushfire Universal.

In 2008, three artists continued their commercial success of adding Gold cachet to each and every album they’ve released.  Def Jam rapper and N.Y. native Nas’ self-titled ninth career album earned him his ninth Gold album certification, while both Oklahoma rock band Hinder and U.K.-based singer Natasha Bedingfield’s sophomore alums Take It to the Limit (Universal Republic) and Pocketful of Sunshine (Epic) earned each their second Gold album certification.

Atlantic pop diva group Danity Kane welcomed a Gold certification for Welcome to the Dollhouse. This is the second certification for the MTV Making the Band winners since their self-titled debut album went Platinum in 2006. Their digital single “Damaged” also sold more than one million downloads, certifying it Platinum.

You go girls! Three first Gold album certifications went to Arista ‘Dreamgirl’ Jennifer Hudson, Capitol rocker Katy Perry and Mercury artist Duffy for their respective debut albums Jennifer Hudson, One of the Boys and Rockferry.  ‘I Kissed A Girl’ off Perry’s album also went 2x Platinum to denote more than two million downloads of her popular kiss-and-tell tale.

Pop divas were also down with digital downloads in 2008 as Rihanna’s “Disturbia” (Def Jam), Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” (Capitol), and Madonna’s “4 Minutes (to Save the World)” (Warner Bros.) all tied for the highest selling download of the year.  Each sold more than two million downloads to earn a double Platinum award.  

It was a strong year for R&B rocker Rihanna who raked in the brass this year with numerous certifications.  She earned three additional single nods for “Don’t Stop the Music” (2x Platinum), “Take a Bow” and “Shut Up and Drive” (Gold and Platinum).  Additionally, her hits “Take A Bow” and “Umbrella” rang on many a mobile phone taking Gold & Platinum and 2x Platinum ringtone awards respectively.  

Five artistic rising talents earned bragging rights in 2008 when they brought home their very first RIAA-certified Platinum digital single award:  solo artist Secondhand Serenade for “Fall for You” (Glassnote Records), Pop-rockster Jesse McCartney for “Leavin” (Hollywood), R&B artist Ray J featuring Yung Berg for “Sexy Can I” (Knockout Entertainment/DeJa34), Jason Mraz for his Grammy Song of the Year nominee “I’m Yours” and British belle Estelle for “American Boy” (both Atlantic). Kudos to all!

Fans couldn’t get enough of Mississippi-born Saving Abel’s “Addicted” on Virgin or the novel “New Soul” from breakout singer-songwriter Yael Naim (Atlantic). Each artist earned their very first Gold digital single award to mark downloads exceeding 500,000.


And there’s little doubt anyone missed Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” ringing from phones coast-to-coast throughout last year.  “Lollipop” is Lil Wayne’s highest certified mastertone at 4x Platinum and the highest certified ringtone of 2008. His other mobile music downloads “Mrs. Officer” and “A Milli” each earned Platinum ringtone recognition as well.  

The ringtone “The Boss” from Miami rapper Rick Ross’ album Trilla was another hot tone of 2008 ringing in Gold and Platinum. “Hustlin" off Ross’ debut 2006 album is also a Platinum certified mastertone.

Additionally, 2008 rang in four notable first-time mastertone certifications.  Usher’s “Love in this Club” (LaFace) went Platinum while Jordin Sparks’ “Tattoo” (Jive), Yung Berg’s “The Business” (Epic), and Ray J featuring Yung Berg’s “Sexy Can I” (Koch) each reached RIAA-certified Gold status.

December 08’ Highlights:

The RIAA's Gold and Platinum award program finished strong with the certification of many of 2008’s eagerly anticipated fourth quarter releases.  Of note are three big artists whose November album releases were certified both Gold and Platinum by December.  Beyonce’s I Am Sasha Fierce (Columbia), Nickelback’s Dark Horse (Roadrunner Records), and T.I.’s Paper Trail (Grand Hustle) each sold more than one million copies.

As can be expected, Christmas music was popular heading into the holidays with the latest holiday titles from Enya (And Winter Came, Reprise) and Faith Hill (Joy to the World, Warner Bros.) were certified Gold.  Additionally, legendary performer Eartha Kitt’s 1953 Christmas classic “Santa Baby” on Legacy earned a Gold ringtone award to salute sales of more than 500,000 copies more than fifty years after the song’s release.

Toby Keith’s That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy, released in October on Show Dog Nashville, went Platinum in December.  The album was produced by Keith himself and he wrote or co-wrote all eleven tracks on the record, his thirteenth studio album release.  Kudos to the Oklahoma native who has sold more than 23 million albums since releasing his self-titled debut album in 1993.

Two American rappers, Def Jam’s Jay Jenkins and Universal Motown’s Cornell Haynes, Jr. --better known by their stage names Young Jeezy and Nelly -- also earned Gold album awards in December.  Young Jeezy for his third major studio release The Recession and Nelly for his fifth Brass Knuckles.  

Italian for "divine male (performer)," Il Divo’s fifth studio album certainly holds up to the operatic group’s celestial tag.  The Promise released on Columbia in November reached swift Gold prestige within one month of its debut.  Additionally, Nickelback’s Roadrunner Records label mate Slipknot earned a Gold record for All Hope is Gone. Impressively, all five of the nine-member heavy metal band’s albums have gone Gold thus far.

Christmas also came early for four rising artists who picked up their first RIAA digital single certifications: seventh season American Idol winner David Cook for his coronation song “Time of My Life” (RCA - Gold and Platinum), record producer-turned-singer Kevin Rudolf for his debut single “Let It Rock” (Universal Records - Gold and Platinum),  R&B singer Shaffer Chimere Smith -- better known as ‘Ne-Yo’ -- for “Closer” (Def Jam- G & P) and New Zealand rapper Savage’s “Swing” (Universal Records- Gold), as made popular by 2007 comedy film Knocked Up.

In the digital singles category two more rappers received Gold and Platinum cheer in December when their digital singles sold more than one million downloads:  T.I. for “Whatever You Like” and “Live Your Life” off of his Platinum Paper Trail on his own record label Grand Hustle and stately rapper Flo Rida for “In the Ayer” from Mail on Sunday on Atlantic.

In August, the RIAA celebrated the 50th anniversary of its historic Gold Record as part of its Gold & Platinum certification program. On August 11, 1958 Elvis was awarded his first ever RIAA Gold certification for his hit single ‘Hard Headed Woman.’  Several prominent artists from Akon to Judas Priest commented on the golden anniversary of G&P.  Read what they had to say here.

The RIAA awarded a total of 214 albums, 247 digital singles and 72 Mastertones in 2008.  All certifications are calculated by Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman. Complete lists of all album, single, mastertone and video awards can also be accessed at www.riaa.com.


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy