WINNER OF THE WEEK: Country music. Following contemporaries Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean into the Top 10, singer Eric Church's Chief sold 145,000 albums and hit Number One on the Billboard charts for the first time in his career. And he's doing it the old-fashioned way, which still works in country. After he meticulously broadened his fan base by playing larger and larger shows, Church managed to hit Number 17 with his previous album, Carolina, in its first week of release, eventually selling almost 500,000 copies. So far, Church does not seem to be an Internet single phenomenon – he has nothing on the iTunes singles chart, Billboard's digital-singles chart or BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart, which measures newfangled criteria like YouTube views and Facebook likes. It's tempting to theorize that country is an old-music-business phenomenon, still selling plenty of physical albums but not really having to deal with piracy or YouTube. But unlike Church (so far), Shelton and Aldean have had big hits on those singles charts – Shelton thanks to his Voice notoriety and Aldean thanks to his undeniable "Dirt Road Anthem," which has been in and out of the Ultimate Chart's Top 10 for much of this year.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Last week, after we noticed Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper" had zoomed up both the Billboard and BigChampagne singles charts, we suggested she had a good start in turning her free online single into possible cash from tickets and what-not down the road. That possibility seems far more remote this week. It didn't take long, but Lovato's single belly-flopped down the charts, landing at Number 51 (down from 10) on Billboard and Number 21 (from 2) on BigChampagne. Lovato better think up a gimmick, quick, to keep people interested. Maybe she could team with LMFAO? Or Slayer?
ABOUT TO TAKE OFF: Keep an eye on Jay-Z and Kanye West. The longtime hip-hop colleagues' first team-up album, Watch the Throne, hit Number Four on the iTunes album chart on the strength of pre-orders (it's not out until Monday). That's in part because in its second week, the duo's first single "Otis" (with a prominent sample from the late Otis Redding) seems to be a budding blockbuster, surging from Number 40 to Number Nine on the Billboard digital-singles charts, selling 119,000 copies, and going even higher, to Number Seven, on iTunes. Interestingly, Jigga and Yeezy are streaming the single only at this official site, as opposed to YouTube, Vevo or even on Spotify. This would seem counter to the prevailing online-single strategy of "streaming everywhere" — but when high-demand superstars come out with strong new music, they can get away with it.
LAST WEEK: Amy Winehouse's Sad Return