Unless Adele or Taylor Swift follow Beyoncé's lead and drop surprise masterpieces in the next five days, it looks like a terrible-selling 2013. Track sales are down five percent and album sales down nine percent – depressing news no matter how nice the streaming numbers look. Happy New Year, record industry! Hope you all get to stay employed!
BEYONCÉ COOLS DOWN: The surprise effect appears to have worn off Beyoncé's new album, which made its debut last week at Number One after just three days on sale. In its second week (and first full week) Beyoncé sold 374,000 copies, a drop of 39 percent, while sticking to Number One. That's a two-week total of 991,000, which is very good, but doesn't quite match the "OMG BEYONCE DROPPED AN ALBUM OUT OF NOWHERE!" hysteria of two weeks before Christmas. It'll be interesting to see where sales go from here. Beyoncé is the type of album that could stick around for months as new singles unfold, and the iTunes exclusive gave it a crucial early boost. But that exclusivity seems to have dissuaded rival retailers Target and Amazon from selling the CD. That may have been a problem this week, since shoppers tend to buy actual physical CDs for Christmas, but my guess is Beyoncé benefits next week from iTunes gift cards.
HOMOPHOBIA: SADLY, NOT BAD FOR BUSINESS: After Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson gave GQ a crude interview comparing lady parts favorably to man parts and concluding, "But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man," his family album sales gained 22 percent. Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas appears to have beaten Kelly Clarkson's Wrapped in Red as the year's holiday hit, hitting Number Four last week with 132,000 sales. How could this possibly have happened? The only reasons I can think of, from most to least depressing: 1) People don't care about homophobia; 2) Holiday shoppers were so desperate for festive music this time of year that they bought the first thing they saw in stores or on iTunes; 3) Fans are finally getting better and better at separating the art from the artist (maybe this isn’t so good, considering R. Kelly).
HARD TO BET AGAINST A BIG-SELLING KATY PERRY SINGLE: Which star will be the chart story of early 2014? I predict Beyoncé dominates album sales, while Katy Perry takes over singles. Her "Dark Horse” sales rose 87 percent, from Number 17 to Number Seven on Billboard's Digital Songs chart, with 111,000. Number One remains "Say Something" by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera, which sold 238,000, a jump of two percent, but the sad, soaring anthem – perfect for the holiday season in sound, if not in lyrical content – stands to sink after Christmas.
Last column: Like Old Times for Britney and Garth