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Hawthorne Heights: ready to say sorry to Ne-Yo?


We'll say sorry for everything but telling you to hide Ne-Yo records.

Last week hot-like-fire Def Jam artist Ne-Yo topped the Billboard charts with his debut album "In My Own Words" while emo-scremo-metal-core-whatever rockers Hawthorne Heights charted a strong #3. But, if Hawthorne Heights and the Victory Records street team had their way, the band would have been #1. . . and no one would have been able to find the Ne-Yo album.

First, on February 27th, in a bulletin sent out via MySpace to all 344453 e-friends with Hawthorne Heights, the band/label/handlers had this to say:

You buying our album tomorrow has much greater meaning than simply supporting Hawthorne Heights. ROCK music needs your support. Our society and culture has put rock music on the backburner. If our album can debut at #1 all of us will have taken ROCK music back to the top of the charts where it belongs.
But who or what could be putting the once mighty "ROCK music" on the so-called "backburner?" None other than the meanies over at Def Jam and URBAN radio. Quoth the Myspace Bulletin:
A current example is an artist that we are up against called Ne-Yo. Many people are saying that Ne-Yo is going to outsell us because Ne-Yo has had a tremendous amount of over the top, mainstream media coverage. His album will be in stores tomorrow. Radio has played his single 160,000 times. Our single has been played 3,800 times. We know that does not seem possible but it is the truth. Ne-Yo is on a major label. Hawthorne Heights is on an independent label.

ROCK music needs to win tomorrow.
And the band isn't only pulling for "ROCK music," but also for every truly independent artist making music today:

Passion and music with real meaning has a chance to beat out what the media forces down our throats. No one expects us to win. We need to prove them wrong. They underestimate us. Please help us create history tomorrow. This is a 'call to arms', a 'battle cry', not just for Hawthorne Heights but for all of the other great ROCK bands and independent labels that we all love. All of us deserve this and it is something that we can do together.

So I guess that they want to be #1 on Billboard so they can rep it for Destroyer, Belle & Sebastian and maybe even Fugazi. Fair enough.

But in an email send out on March 1st to the entire Victory Records street team, passed along by an anonymous source, things got a little more sinister. Not only did the letter encourage the street team members to pull Hawthorne Heights CDs out of the store's under-stock and place them conspicuously throughout the store, it also told them to HIDE NE-YO CD WHERE PEOPLE COULDN'T FIND THEM! So, sayeth the e-mail:

As for Ne-yo, the name of the game is to decrease the chances of a sale here. If you were to pick up handful of Ne-yo CDs, as if you were about to buy them, but then changed your mind and didn't bother to put them back in the same place, that would work. Even though this record will be heavily stocked and you might not be able to move all the stock, just relocating a handful creates issues: Even though the store will appear to be out of stock, the computer will see it as in stock and not re-order the title once it sells down and then Ne-Yo will lose a few sales later in the week...
Obviously their harebrained high school shenanigans didn't work, as Ne-Yo charted at #1 and the soundtrack to the Disney channel television show High School Musical hit #2. Looks like they should have hid the stuff in the kiddie section too.

-- Eli Anderson

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