WINNER OF THE WEEK: Lil Wayne. Although Lady Gaga's Born This Way sold more than 1.1 million copies in its first week, relegating Weezy's Tha Carter IV to second-best debut of 2011, the rapper's 964,000 copies are actually more impressive. Gaga, as you may recall, needed an Amazon 99-cent deal to achieve her total, while Wayne did it the old-fashioned, full-price way – even though Internet leaks were plentiful before the release date and ridiculously easy to find. His album sold 362,000 downloads last week, the second-largest figure of all time – after Born This Way, at 662,000, and broke an iTunes single-week record. The secret to Wayne's success? He floods the market with singles. He doesn't give a single a chance to drop off the charts before releasing a new one. "She Will" was at Number Four on last Thursday's BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart, which measures online criteria like Facebook likes and YouTube views; suddenly, this week, "Mirror," co-starring Bruno Mars, is at Number Six on both iTunes and Billboard's digital-songs chart, where it sold 149,000 copies. Lesson to artists? Be prolific.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: For just about any other rock band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' I'm With You sales debut of 229,000 and a Number Two chart position would have been impressive. But the Peppers have sold 21.5 million albums in their career, and their previous album, 2006's Stadium Arcadium, sold 442,000 – and that was two discs. It's likely that the band will soon start touring, thus boosting its sales campaign, which is pretty much what happened last time. Until then, it turns out, even one of the half-dozen biggest rock bands in the world is susceptible to a prolonged sales slump in the genre.
VMA REVERBERATIONS: We assumed Beyonce's 4 would ignite on the charts at some point, but we never predicted it would be due to a pregnancy announcement on national television. After MTV's August 28th Video Music Awards, B's track "Love on Top" reached Number 10 on Billboard's digital-songs chart, with 113,000 in sales (a gain of 803 percent – not surprising, since it hasn't actually been issued as a single), pushing 4 to its first weekly sales increase (39,000 copies overall, and a jump from Number 12 to Number Seven). Other big VMA winners: Wayne, of course, who closed the show; Adele, whose 21 became even more indestructible, jumping 88 percent and returning to Number Three; Rihanna, whose guest-star-packed "Cheers (Drink to That)" video came out last week and has already hit 10.4 million views, boosting its Ultimate Chart position from Number 92 to Number Five over the past month; and Lady Gaga, whose "Yoü and I" continues to surge up the charts.
LAST WEEK: 'Tha Carter IV' Could Sell Up to 900,000