WINNER OF THE WEEK: Bruno Mars. Unorthodox Jukebox, which came out last fall, is starting to hit the Rihanna/Katy Perry stratosphere – the album hasn't sold many copies, but each single outdoes the last one. Jukebox is at just Number 10 this week, selling 36,000 copies and dropping 24 percent, but "When I Was Your Man" leapfrogs Pink's "Just Give Me a Reason" to Number One on Billboard's Digital Songs chart, selling 340,000 downloads and increasing 45 percent. A big reason for this surge is the iTunes/Amazon MP3 sale price last week – 69 cents – but it's just the thing that can launch this single into Macklemore-and-Ryan-Lewis territory. Speaking of which, the "Thrift Shop" run appears to be over, as the single drops 25 percent in sales, with 211,000, falling from Number Two to Number Four. What's the next big single? Bet on Icona Pop's perfect (but aging) "I Love It," which sold 131,000 and hit Number Nine.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Lil Wayne. It's tempting to make a sizzurp-overdose joke and suggest the superstar rapper's personal problems are leading to creative struggles, prompting the mediocre I Am Not a Human Being II to drop from Number Two to Number Five, selling just 68,000 copies, a decrease of 69 percent. But the fact is that Wayne releases so much music all the time – some great, some terrible, all reflecting where he is at any given point – that it's hard to generalize about the reasons behind his sales. Just as his album is plummeting down the Billboard album chart, his song "Rich as F**k" leaps 42 spots on the Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria in addition to radio and sales, to Number 25 (while "Love Me" remains at 18).
ARE YOU READY FOR THE COUNTRY (AT LEAST FOR NOW)?: There's an Academy of Country Music? And it gives awards? And those awards are so influential that they can launch the Band Perry to Number Two for selling 129,000 copies of Pioneer? Not only that, these awards gave a band called Florida Georgia Line's absolutely plain single "Cruise" a 372 percent sales boost, from Number 42 to Number Three? Actually, the ACM phenomenon may be the kickoff for a Country Spring, beginning with Luke Bryan a few weeks ago and continuing with Brad Paisley's Wheelhouse, out this week. Maybe you've read about Paisley lately: His album contains "Accidental Racist," which was all over Twitter, even before it came out, for the wrong reasons. Although weird, awkwardly written and co-starring an out-of-place LL Cool J, the meditation about race relations and the Confederate flag, the song has an appealing fearlessness, the overall album is pretty good, and it stands to make a high debut next week.
Last week: Justin Timberlake Holds Fast to Number One