WINNER OF THE WEEK: Zac Brown Band. A few weeks ago, when this grassroots country-rock phenomenon hit Number One for the first time with Uncaged, we suggested that the album's lack of smash singles might not bode well for its staying power on the charts. "It's completely inaccurate," the band's publicist emailed afterwards. "They get a ton of radio play. Zac Brown Band has scored an unprecedented nine Number One singles on country radio over the past four years." Which, no argument, is a big deal – and so is the return of Uncaged to Number One on Billboard's album chart this week, with sales of 48,000 copies. But a few Brown metrics are not so great. His latest single "The Wind," despite a funny video by "Beavis and Butt-head" creator Mike Judge, is at just 327,000 views on YouTube, including only 100,000 in the last two weeks. It lingers at Number 96 on the Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria, although it did jump 10 spots. And the album actually dropped 38 percent in sales since last week – it rose on the charts from Number Two to Number One due to a lack of big releases in a slow late-summer week. In short, Zac needs a bigger single, stat, or a Lady Antebellum-like boost for the current one.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Music fans. It's a dead week for album releases. Billboard informs us that the last time a Number One album sold this few copies in one week was in the B.A. era – Before Adele. The album was Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday, which sold 45,000 copies in in February 2011. This week, in addition to the Zac Brown Band's only-sort-of-triumphant return to Number One, we get Nas' Life Is Good dropping to Number Two with just 45,000 copies, a decrease of 38 percent, and the Gaslight Anthem's Handwritten making its debut at Number Three with 40,000 copies. (No offense to this album, which we like, but given the recent history of rock debuts, we give it a 99 percent chance of sinking out of the Top Five next week and an 80 percent chance of disappearing from the Top 10.) Passion Pit's indie-rockish Gossamer is the surprise of the week – it hit Number Four on the overall chart and was Number One on iTunes, with 74 percent of its sales coming digitally.
HELP IS ON THE WAY? Album sales are down three percent so far this year, compared to the same time in 2011 – mostly because it's impossible to compete with the Year of Adele. (Unless you create a new Adele, but that's a different story for a different time.) But the cavalry may be about to arrive. Next week, Rick Ross' God Forgives, I Don't has a shot at being the year's biggest-selling hip-hop album, and come Fall, the record industry could regain its sense of purpose with a slew of albums by marquee names, including Pink, No Doubt, Christina Aguilera, Ke$ha and Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music.
LAST WEEK: 'Life Is Good' for Nas