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On the Charts: Arcade Fire Debut On Top

Plus: The Christmas albums are arriving!

Win Butler of Arcade Fire performs in Hollywood.
Mike Windle/WireImage
November 6, 2013 3:35 PM ET

After Miley and Katy logged middling first-week sales, then dropped down Billboard's album chart, the record industry is carefully watching Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2, which came out yesterday and could help salvage a slow year with a strong fourth quarter. The sales numbers could certainly use a boost – tracks are down four percent and albums are down seven percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The New Immortals: Arcade Fire

ANYONE WANT TO BET ON NEXT WEEK?: Good to see Arcade Fire's worthy Reflektor made its debut at Number One, but beyond that, the numbers aren't encouraging. The album sold 140,000 copies, which is OK for a Number One by this year's standards, but its title-track single isn't quite a chart sensation – it logged an impressive 5.2 million YouTube views since it came out in September, but peaked on Billboard's Hot 100 at Number 99 and immediately dropped off the chart the following week. Like every other big rock band, Arcade Fire might not care at this point. They're in it for the concert tickets, not hit singles or albums. (And so is Miley Cyrus, by the way, who just announced an arena tour, with tickets as high as $100.) Expect a steep sales drop-off next week – most likely steeper than Katy Perry's Prism, which slipped to Number Two, selling 92,000, a relatively not-bad 68 percent decrease.

GUESS WHO'S BACK?: Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP 2 will be an interesting case study – iTunes streamed the album last week, in advance of its release date (yesterday). This time, iTunes did something different. It allowed fans to use iTunes Radio and skip around from track to track, rather than hearing the entire album as a full stream. The buzz led to preorder sales, and MMLP2 landed at Number One on iTunes' albums chart this week. Eminem is likely to hit Number One next week, but it's hard to say how much all this streaming activity (including Spotify, which has streamed "Berzerk" nearly 14 million times and "Rap God" more than 3.5 million) will boost single and album sales.

HOLY CRAP, IT'S CHRISTMAS SEASON: A year after the exciting holiday-music fight to the death between Rod Stewart and Michael Buble, the first Christmas albums are dribbling out at the perfect marketing set-up time of year. Kelly Clarkson's Wrapped in Red made its debut at Number Three, selling 70,000 copies, and the Robertsons' Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas followed with 69,000. Yes, that's the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty fame. Interestingly, Clarkson's album hit just Number Eight on iTunes' albums chart and the Robertsons didn't place at all, which suggests early holiday shoppers are still buying old-fashioned CDs. And as long as I'm on the subject of early holiday shoppers: Seriously? It's November 6th! And don't give me that "But Hannukah begins before Thanksgiving this year!" line. I'm not falling for it.

Last week: Katy Perry Roars Out of the Gate

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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