Donald Glover has had a lot of success throughout his career. He is extremely talented, so this isn’t a surprise, at least not to me. But his winning streak is continuing. His “This Is America” song (released under his Childish Gambino moniker) has brought him an incredible 419% album sales increase in the United States. Glover released “This is America” on Saturday, May 5, after he finished hosting Saturday Night Live. If you haven’t seen the video yet, you need to immediately. The song is great, but the video is politically charged and it really took off. Not only did it give Childish Gambino his first No. 1 track, but it also prompted his fans to dig into his catalog of albums.
As someone who’s been a Childish Gambino fan for a while, I’m both happy that people are starting to listen to his music, but I’m also kind of taken aback a bit. Maybe it’s just me, but there are so many of his songs to love. Of course, I’m listening to Outside right now as inspiration for this post. Let’s talk about that for a moment, though. Of this back catalog, three of Childish Gambino’s albums also reentered the Billboard 200 chart. His latest full-length effort, 2016’s “Awaken, My Love!”, reached No. 45 with 12,000 equivalent album units (up 156%), 5,000 of which were traditional album sales (up 268%). Because the Internet climbed back to No. 61 with 10,000 units (up 178%) and 3,000 in sales (up 681%), while his full-length debut Camp grazed the bottom of the chart at No. 197, moving 5,000 units (up 174%) with 2,000 in sales (up 497%).
I mentioned that the song was politically charged, but I didn’t mention that it addresses racism, police brutality, gun violence and other aspects of our current society. We are living in a time when we are seeing all of these things in our everyday life, and it happens to be splattered all over the media. So, is a political song, such as this one what we need right now? I kind of think so. And, it’s also incredible that this kind of song has made it to the top of the charts. In fact, over the past three decades, only a handful of these kinds of songs have made it to number one. I actually think that you’ll be surprised to hear which songs those were.
In my head, I was thinking some kind of anti-war song by Bob Dylan, but after a moment, I realized that those songs were popular about 50 years ago. But the songs that did make it to the top of the charts, which showcased social commentary or took a stand politically include Royals (Lorde), Born This Way (Lady Gaga) and Gangsta’s Paradise (Coolio). All of these songs do convey quite the message, but not necessarily one that reflects the time that we’re living in today. That’s why, I think we need to stand up and clap for Childish Gambino, even if you don’t like the song itself. He is presenting the idea of what America looks like to many of us right now. I am happy to see that his sales are up as a result. He’s an amazing artist and more people need to discover that.