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How Arcade Fire Conquered the Charts

Montreal collective gets big push from Amazon, sells 156,000 copies of 'The Suburbs'

August 11, 2010 1:04 PM ET

Indie rock is back atop the Billboard 200: Arcade Fire's third album, The Suburbs, debuted at Number One with 156,000 copies sold. That puts the Montreal collective on par with Vampire Weekend, whose indie-released Contra grabbed Number One in January of this year. Sales of The Suburbs were greatly aided by an Amazon promotion offering digital downloads for $3.99. Nielsen SoundScan reveals that 62 percent, or 97,000 copies, of Suburbs sales came from digital purchases. The new album improves on Neon Bible's Number Two debut (with 92,000 copies sold) in 2007.

Eminem missed yet another turn at Number One by a mere 4,000 copies. (Avenged Sevenfold ended a five-week run of his last week.) Recovery moved 152,000 copies, leaving it again at Number Two. Last week's charts champ, Avenged Sevenfold's Nightmare, slips to Number Three with 72,000 copies sold, a 72 percent decrease from its debut. A pair of rappers round out the Top Five: Bun B's Trill O.G. is at Four, with 41,000 copies moved in its debut week, and Rick Ross' Teflon Don at Five. Two other debuts crack the Top 10: Lady Gaga's The Remix (at Number Six, 39,000 copies) and, at Number 10, Buckcherry's All Night Long. Total album sales were down 13 percent compared to the same week in 2009.

The other big news belongs to Taylor Swift, who — despite having to rush-release her first Speak Now single "Mine" due to piracy — still debuted at Number One on the Digital Songs charts, with 297,000 downloads, knocking Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie" out of the top spot after a six-week reign. "Mine" also tallied the eighth-best digital sales debut week of all time, though it couldn't outsell her own "Today Was a Fairy Tale," which was downloaded 325,000 times in its debut week earlier this year.

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Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

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