WINNER OF THE WEEK: Alicia Keys. By default. (It was a terrible week for album sales – see below.) Girl on Fire hit Number One, but its sales were a measly 159,000, the lowest of any Keys album, ony managing 38 percent of first-week sales for 2009's The Element of Freedom. Keys might be able to build on this, though, as the album's title track is an obvious hit (thanks in no small part to Nicki Minaj as what sounds like the Voice of God), jumping 172 percent in sales (after her performance on last week's X Factor), from Number 17 to Number Three. More impressively, will.i.am's solo smash "Scream & Shout" (featuring Britney Spears), increased 483 percent in sales, also with a video boost from The X Factor, from Number 66 to Number One.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: The week. After Black Friday, it turns out, nobody feels like shopping anymore, at least for a few days. So the annual music-sales plunge takes a few strong releases with it – Taylor Swift's Red drops 26 percent, to 137,000; One Direction's Take Me Home drops 48 percent, to 92,000; and Rihanna's Unapologetic, Number One last week, loses 70 percent and tumbles to Number Six. I'm still confused about this Rihanna business. It's a slow week, she's more of a singles artist than an album artist and album sales overall are tough these days. But she's Rihanna – the world's biggest pop star after perhaps Adele, Taylor Swift and a fading Lady Gaga. (Who else is bigger? Bieber? Britney? Eminem? No way.) Rihanna should be much better at selling albums.
YOU HAVE TO LOVE YEAR-END LISTS RELEASED IN LATE NOVEMBER: Spotify announced its most-streamed tracks out last week, and they're both surprising and unsurprising. Unsurprising, because the worldwide list hews closely to the top-selling singles list – Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" is Number One, followed in order by Fun.'s "We Are Young," Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," Fun.'s "Some Nights" and Maroon 5's "Payphone." Surprising, for the same reason – despite fears in the record industry that unlimited free-streaming access cannibalizes sales, these songs sold for actual money. By mid-year, according to Nielsen Soundscan, "Somebody" did more than 5.5 million in digital sales. Are you listening, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Ke$ha, Black Keys and everybody else who delays music on Spotify?
Last week: Rihanna on Top