You know it's bad when Coldplay (see below) is the record business' next great hope. Not that there's anything wrong with Coldplay — it's just that we're not exactly in the middle of a British Invasion, and rock bands fronted by thirtysomething divorcés are not exactly the Next Big Thing. Still, in a year of sharply declining album sales (16 percent) and track sales (12 percent), the band's strong-selling upcoming album could be . . . helpful.
ALL IGGY NEEDS IS A RANGER HAT AND A SHIMMY FROM MERYL STREEP: Could Australian singer-rapper Iggy Azalea be this year's Pharrell? Although her own album The New Classic dropped from Number Three to Number Five, she launched two singles to the top of the Digital Songs chart. Ariana Grande's "Problem," featuring Azalea, made its debut with 438,000 copies, the biggest-selling single since Katy Perry's "Roar" last August, suggesting that people do, in fact, still buy songs on iTunes if they're any good, rather than streaming them for free via Spotify or such. Azalea's "Fancy," co-starring Charli XCX, boosted its sales by 104 percent and sold 220,000 downloads, rising from Number Six to Number Two on the charts.
FIRST WEEK IN MAY — NOT TRADITIONAL MUSIC-SHOPPING SEASON: I'm trying to avoid mentioning a certain cold-themed soundtrack, other than to say it sold another 106,000 copies for a total of 2.6 million, and concentrate on the more interesting albums in Billboard's Top 10. Let's see . . . classical violinist Lindsey Stirling's Shatter Me (Number Two, 56,000) . . . dad-rock favorite Ray LaMontagne's Supernova (Number Three, 40,000) . . . Passion's latest Christian juggernaut Take It All (Number Four, 30,000) . . . and plummeting pop and hip-hop stars such as Iggy Azalea's The New Classic (down 57 percent, 23,000), Pharrell's Girl (up 3 percent, 22,000) and Future's Honest (down 63 percent, 20,000). It's a depressing week for the album charts.
THAT'S A LOT OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONE SMALL COLDPLAY: Who could possibly save the reeling record industry? Maybe Coldplay — its album Ghost Stories doesn't come out until May 19th, but pre-sales have already made it Number Three on iTunes. (Frankly, it didn't take much, given that the still-popular rock band has sold tens of millions of albums over the years and it only takes 50,000 in sales to make it to Number Two or Number Three on the Billboard 200 these days.) The band's "A Sky Full of Stars" single sold 139,000 copies in its first week, but that counts for only three days, given that the band put it out on midnight May 2nd. And while the YouTube clip for “A Sky Full of Stars” is only "official audio," so far, it's still up to 3.8 million views.