WINNER OF THE WEEK: A$AP Rocky. Buzz on the New York City rapper has been building for two years, thanks to mixtapes, a guest spot on Rihanna's "Cockiness (Love It)" remix and an opening slot for Drake's Club Paradise tour. (Excellent fact I just learned from A$AP's Wikipedia page: His real name is Rakim Moore, and he was actually named after the great rapper Rakim, who with Eric B. is responsible for this.) After all that, you might expect Long.Live.A$AP, Rocky's debut album, to sell more than 139,000 copies, but that's the way it goes, chart-wise, these days for sub-Lil Wayne hip-hop releases. And it's still the January doldrums – even the best-selling albums are doing meager business, from Kidz Bop 23 (Number Two, 78,000) to Phillip Phillips' suddenly resurgent The World from the Side of the Moon (Number Eight, 25,000 sales, a 10 percent increase).
LOSER OF THE WEEK: David Bowie. I love the Thin White Duke and was as excited as anybody when he emerged from Dick Cheney's bunker the other week to put out his first single in years, "Where Are We Now?" But sadly, as with all, shall we say, youth-challenged rock stars, the single has done nothing on the charts. It hasn't placed in the Billboard Hot 100, and despite Twitter and Facebook hype (among us old farts, naturally), didn't make it into iTunes' Top 10 songs the last two weeks. It did score Number 20 on the latest Rock Songs chart, but the official video generated only 1.375 million YouTube views. Good thing he didn't spend much on effects – throughout the video, his face is poking out of a hole cut from a screen for a black-and-white movie.
THAT DIRECTION WOULD APPEAR TO BE UP: One Direction seem to be achieving hegemony over their hunky-heartthrob competitors, as Justin Bieber is at least briefly receding after disappointing album sales and a surprising lack of Grammy Awards and the Wanted look like they're not much of a boy-band competitor. The band are showing a knack for launching a new blockbuster single just as the old one dies down, and they're touring Europe in a timely fashion. I'm actually a sucker for the breezy "Kiss You" video, which shows Our Heroes mugging in convertibles and on motorcycles on a movie set, surfing, dancing "Jailhouse Rock"-style and, uh, occasionally squeezing each other's nipples. The Biebs never took himself quite this unseriously, and neither did Nick Carter. The video's at more than 41 million YouTube views this week and has jumped 55 spots, to Number Seven, on BigChampagne's Ultimate chart, which measures Internet criteria.
Last week: Goodbye to the Smash Hits of 2012