Michael Jackson is back! But this time he's dead. And, at least as far as the sales numbers are concerned, so is his beloved (well, loved and hated, anyway) record business. Album sales are down 16 percent so far this year, and track sales are down 12 percent.
MICHAEL WOULD HAVE FIRED AT LEAST TWO OVER THIS: The Black Keys' chart victory over Jackson this week wasn't quite as thrilling as that time 22 years ago when Nirvana's Nevermind displaced MJ's Dangerous at Number One, but it nonetheless created a dramatic finish. The Keys' Turn Blue opened on top with 164,000, beating out Undead Michael's collection of rarities and remixes XScape, even though the latter contained a hot Justin Timberlake single. Xscape made its debut at Number Two, with 157,000 copies, and while none of these sales figures will remind anybody of Thriller or even Bad, they helped push NOW 50 to Number Three (82,000, a decrease of 47 percent) and the Frozen soundtrack to Number Four (73,000, minus 26 percent).
A DOLLY-TORI-SARAH TRIFECTA: Record sales these days may be depressing, but they're low enough that unexpected niche stars get a chance to sneak into the Top 10. My favorite run in a long time is three debuts by veteran women — Dolly Parton (Blue Smoke, 37,000 copies, Number Six), Tori Amos (Unrepentant Geraldines, 20,000, Number Seven) and Sarah McLachlan (Shine On, Number Eight, 17,500). They beat country whippersnapper Hunter Hayes' Storyline, which sold just 16,000, a drop of 76 percent, from Number Three to Number Nine.
BIG SINGLE OF THE WEEK: Keep an eye on Jason Derulo's "Wiggle" — the R&B superstar performed a snippet of it on Sunday night's Billboard Music Awards, prompting a one-night sales boost (for a total of 109,000 copies) and a jump from Number Eight to Number Seven. Even before the BMAs, the song went from Number 36 to Number Seven, and the latest Ultimate Chart, which emphasizes Internet behavior and often predicts hit singles, had it launching from Number 77 to Number 13. "Wiggle," featuring Snoop Dogg (who also showed up at the BMAs), is Number Seven on iTunes' songs, and has essentially replaced the fast-dropping "Talk Dirty to Me" on the charts.