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Album Sales Hit a New Low Last Week

Second time this year that sales have dropped below 5 million

August 19, 2010 1:02 PM ET

The struggling music industry hit a new low last week: Only 4.95 million albums were sold in the U.S. between August 8th and 14th — the lowest total since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking numbers in 1991. The one other time album sales fell short of five million copies? Earlier this year, during the week ending May 30th, when 4.98 million albums sold.

Sales ebbed despite another big week for the Number One album, Eminem's Recovery, which moved 133,000 copies, becoming 2010's second double-platinum. (Lady Antebellum's Need You Now has still accumulated more sales.) But Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, which dropped to number two in its second week, fell dramatically, from 156,000 to 52,000 copies. The Camp Rock 2 soundtrack, which came in at number three, sold only 41,000 copies.

Next week is looking up, slightly, with new albums from Ray LaMontagne and Iron Maiden. Albums due from Taylor Swift, Kanye West, T.I., Susan Boyle and Michael Jackson should also boost the rest of 2010.

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

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