.

On the Charts: Eminem Goes 'Berzerk' With Huge First-Week Sales

'Marshall Mathers LP 2' sells 792,000 copies, second this year only to Justin Timberlake

November 13, 2013 1:40 PM ET
Eminem
Eminem
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for MTV

The major chart story this week, of course, is Eminem, who came in with the second-biggest debut week of the year. Cheers, Marshall! But even that giant sales week couldn't move the needle on overall music sales, which remain down four percent (tracks) and seven percent (albums). The good news? Streaming is huge and getting huger, and, at least in this case, for this week, are enhancing sales rather than cutting into them. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 was streamed 10 million times on Spotify in its debut week.

See Where Eminem Ranks on Our 100 Greatest Artists List

BIG SHADY: Finally, the holiday blockbuster season truly begins. Miley Cyrus – big hits, medium album sales – turned out to be a bit of a mirage. So did Katy Perry – she sells singles, not albums. But Eminem, with The Marshall Mathers LP 2, hits Number One with a robust 792,000 sales, coming in second only to Justin Timberlake's 968,000 back in March. I'm a bit surprised. All year, the story in the music business has been "streaming is cannibalizing sales," but Eminem streamed MMLP2 on iTunes for a week before the album came out, and sold tons anyway. Rather than preventing people from buying the album, all that streaming apparently encouraged them; last week, preorders for the album pushed it to Number One on iTunes' albums chart. Eminem's singles strategy was similarly smart, beginning with the throwback "Berzerk" and moving onto YouTube bait such as the controversial "Rap God." Can Eminem carry this sales momentum through the rest of the year? Depends on the singles, but probably so.

GOODBYE TO CELINE?: Eminem's strong debut demonstrates the bizarre lack of big-selling artists in today's music business. Here's my list of other artists who can reliably sell more than 500,000 copies in a week – Adele, Taylor Swift, Timberlake, maybe Lady Gaga and maybe Lil Wayne. Aside from Eminem, megastars of the relatively recent past have descended into pop-chart no-man's-land. Celine Dion's Loved Me Back to Life is Number Two this week with an absurdly low (for her) 77,000 copies, and Avril Lavigne's new album is Number Five with 44,000. In other depressing chart news, Arcade Fire's Reflektor, Number One last week, drops eight places, losing 77 percent of sales, with 31,000.

TV NATION RETURNS: Remember that moment a few years ago when TV talent shows were all-powerful, breaking artists from Kelly Clarkson to Daughtry and boosting the careers of Christina Aguilera and Maroon 5? NBC's The Voice continues to have that kind of impact, at least in terms of singles sales – A Great Big World opened the show last week with a performance of the soaring ballad "Say Something," in a shockingly subtle duet with judge-mentor Aguilera. The track immediately surged to Number One on iTunes and followed this week by selling 189,000 copies, leapfrogging Lorde's "Royals" (186,000), OneRepublic's "Counting Stars" (152,000, a jump from Number Nine to Number Three) and Eminem's "The Monster" (which, curiously, dropped 60 percent in sales as his album was taking off). In addition to the Voice connection, my guess is "Say Something" continues to sell throughout the fourth quarter, as it has a certain Christmas-hymn-without-the-Christmas grandiosity.

Last week: Arcade Fire Debut on Top

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com