Sleep Through the Static is the fourth studio album by singer-songwriter Jack Johnson, released in the U.S. on February 5, 2008. The effort was announced on Johnson's personal website as renovation began for the release of the album. It was recorded at L.A.'s Solar Powered Plastic Plant, which makes it Johnson's first album not made in Hawaii. It was produced by JP Plunier.
The album was played live for the first time at the BBC in December for a select number of fans. Despite having been reviewed mostly unenthusiastically by professional music critics, worldwide sales of the album indicate that most Jack Johnson fans have not been disappointed, with positive word-of-mouth countering the unenthusiastic reviews of some critics.
The first single, "If I Had Eyes", was released via Johnson's MySpace page on December 17, 2007. The second single from the album was "Hope" and was released on September, peaking at number #30 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks.
The album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling about 375,000 copies in its first week, including 139,000 digital downloads. This was a record high for weekly digital album sales. It also debuted at number one on the Worldwide chart with sales of 577,000. It held the record at iTunes for most digital downloads in a single day, until Coldplay's Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends set a new record.
Sleep Through the Static remained at number one on the Billboard 200 in its second week of release, by which time it had sold over 180,000 copies, as well as its third week, in which it sold 105,000 copies. It fell from the number one spot in its fourth week, in which it placed third with about 92,000 copies sold. The album was made #45 in Q's 50 Best Albums of the Year 2008.
Nice guys finish”¦ first, in the case of Jack Johnson. The surfer, filmmaker and middle-of-the-road acoustic songwriter has never pushed any creative envelopes with his pleasantly forgettable fare, yet his last two albums were UK number ones. Neither Sleep Through the Static (2008) nor In Between Dreams (2005) received much in the way of praise from the music press, but Johnson is in the same mould as Katie Melua: a musician whose fortunes appear impervious to negative reviews, rendering opinions expressed in pieces such as this absolutely irrelevant.
Indeed, such is the armour plating surrounding Johnson’s material that one wonders, while one writes, what the point is of even penning a review that won’t influence a potential buyer’s decision. The conclusion: to be objective, to relay the globally significant background of To the Sea and what’s to follow. That the album follows in the sonic footsteps of what’s come before should go without saying (whoops), and that it’s as challenging as committing a felony in a Grand Theft Auto video game (not very) is another needless statement of abject obviousness. But what’s not apparent from these songs is just how brilliant a man their maker is.
Not musically, you understand. Jack Johnson realises his strengths, limited as they are, and plays to them. Should he ever stretch himself as a musician the results could be fascinating ”“ think The Beach Boys before Pet Sounds, and what they felt capable of afterwards ”“ but right now he’s operating in a comfort zone that should guarantee continued commercial success. But here’s where the brilliant bit comes in: he doesn’t need the money. All profits from touring this record, all around the world, are to go to charities supporting the environment and the arts. He will strive to offset all carbon emissions. He even recorded this in two solar-powered studios. The music might be lightweight, but Johnson is a man on a serious mission, and should be applauded accordingly.
Johnson’s behaviour, his philanthropy and awareness-raising activities in the name of saving this world, should stir other globally known and financially stable artists into doing similar. Pretty though these songs occasionally are ”“ even the harshest critic must concede that My Little Girl and Anything But the Truth are lovely ”“ they’re of secondary importance to their creator’s enthusiasm in other, more important areas. It’s enough to have one forgiving the prevalent listlessness of the man’s catalogue, almost.