I remember when a huge pop event like MTV’s Video Music Awards could enhance stars’ record sales by millions, and such a boost could last through Christmas. Good times. Instead, sales remain dismal. Ariana Grande is Number One, fine, but her first-week numbers weren't exactly stellar, and albums on the whole are down 15 percent and tracks 13 percent. Still.
SERIOUSLY, IS THERE A BETTER POP-STAR NAME THAN "ARIANA GRANDE"?: Congratulations to Grande, who beautifully set up her new album My Everything with a ubiquitous summer smash, "Problem," and helped open last week’s MTV Video Music Awards with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj — for her efforts, she landed her second Number One album. I can’t imagine what she could have possibly done differently. Yet she still sold only 169,000 copies, a low figure at which Michael Jackson and Nineties Mariah Carey would have snorted. I hope streaming services are making zillions of dollars for everybody, because when the record industry’s biggest rising star sells 169,000 copies, something’s wrong.
MTV DOESN'T PLAY VIDEOS AND DOESN’T SELL ALBUMS — GO FIGURE: MTV’s VMA sales effect has more or less fully kicked in — beneficiaries include the Grande-Minaj-Jessie J single "Bang Bang," which jumped 47 percent in sales, to 233,000, and maintained its Number Three position on Billboard’s digital-songs chart; Minaj’s own "Anaconda," which sold 181,000, an increase of 51 percent, enough for a boost from Number Six to Number Four; and Iggy Azalea's "Black Widow" (with Rita Ora), which jumped 25 percent in sales, to 177,000, but dropped from Number Four to Number Five. Aside from Grande’s My Everything, Top 10 albums appear to have enjoyed no VMA effect whatsoever — Number Two Brad Paisley’s Moonshine in the Trunk sold 53,000 copies despite not going anywhere near MTV last week.
THIS KID FROM DETROIT COULD REALLY MAKE A SPLASH: The Top 10 singles have settled into a sort of autumn prototype — Grande, Minaj, Azalea, Jessie J and Meghan Trainor ("All About That Bass," Number Two, down 11 percent, but with a respectable 251,000) — that should last several weeks. But Eminem's "Guts Over Fear," which landed 4.5 million YouTube views in a little more than a week despite not having an actual music video, could break through, having sold 130,000 copies in its first week. The song, which has Sia "Chandelier" Furler on vocals, might be well-timed to take advantage of the inevitable Trainor-Minaj drop.