Four weeks after Daft Punk's Random Access Memories began what appears to be a long run in the Top 10, the record business is in one of those summer periods where even acts that aren't your typical blockbuster pop stars can score a Number One album – last week it was Queens of the Stone Age, this week Black Sabbath. Overall album sales were down five percent compared to the same week in 2012, but look for a different kind of week next Wednesday, as Kanye West's Yeezus, J. Cole's Born Sinner and Mac Miller's Watching Movies with the Sounds Off all register on the Billboard charts.
SABBATH CELEBRATION: The latest rock band to top the chart is the reunited Black Sabbath, whose heavy comeback LP 13 sold 155,000 copies. Neither Sabbath nor Ozzy had ever reached Number One – Ozzy's 2007 album Black Rain peaked at Number Three and the band's 1971 Master of Reality hit Number Eight. Black Sabbath should enjoy their time on top while it lasts, because rock bands have a way of falling right back out of the Top 10 as quickly as they enter it these days. So do hip-hop stars. Who doesn't have this problem? Justin Timberlake, certainly: The 20/20 Experience rode a $6.99 Father's Day sale on iTunes (still going on today) from Number Nine to Number Three, up 31 percent, with sales of 35,000. And Daft Punk, probably: Although Random Access Memories dropped 22 percent in sales (to 48,000), it's Number Two for a second straight week, has sold 543,000 overall and "Get Lucky" is Number Three on iTunes.
CAN A N*E*R*D REUNION TOUR BE FAR BEHIND?: Who's having the best summer on the pop charts? My vote is the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams, whose guest spot on Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" has helped the slinky dance anthem hit Number One on iTunes' songs chart for three weeks in a row – it's Number One on Billboard's Digital Songs chart, selling 371,000 downloads, a rise of 18 percent. He's also featured on Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," which is Number Three on iTunes and Number Four on Billboard, with 195,000 sales. Possible challengers for summer dominance: Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" (Number Two, 208,000 sales this week), Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" (Number Three, 205,000) and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Can't Hold Us" (Number Five, 158,000, but the song's run shows signs of slowing down).
WE CAN'T STOP . . . CAN WE?: I thought for a while that Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" had a chance to battle with "Blurred Lines," "Get Lucky," "Radioactive" and the rest in the summer-single wars, but the song has already dropped out of the Top 10 on both iTunes and Billboard's song charts. On the other hand, her video for "We Can't Stop" just came out today, and it has a little of everything – explosions, twerking, marshmallow-roasting, sandwich-eating, giant-teddy-bear-dancing, alphabet soup, a skull made out of french fries. Also plenty of skimpy clothes. So big numbers next week are entirely possible.
Last week: Queens of the Stone Age Assume the Throne