If the record business were the stock market, traders would be throwing themselves out the window around now. Album sales continue to plunge, hitting minus-nine percent compared to last year, and track sales remain four percent lower than 2013. One Direction, Britney Spears and Black Friday (that's a day, not a band) could stem some of the damage, and maybe there will still be a last-minute, Jamie Foxx-in-2005-style Christmas surprise, but for now: AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!
HOT MESS: The Billboard 200 is a mess this week – all retreads, except Five Finger Death Punch's The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2, which opens at Number Two, with 77,000 sales, a number certain to drop significantly next week. Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2 returns to Number One with 120,000, a sales drop of 43 percent from last week; Lady Gaga's Artpop plunges from Number One to Number Eight, with 46,000, down 82 percent; and even holiday sure-things such as Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas and Kelly Clarkson's Wrapped in Red are flatlining. (Robertson sales are down nine percent, enough to hold at Number Three, while Clarkson's are actually up six percent, but the album still dropped from Number Six to Number Nine.)
TEN ONE DIRECTION SONGS HAVE MORE THAN 8 MILLION SPOTIFY STREAMS: Look for a rebound, of sorts, next week. In addition to Black Friday, which has an annual habit of boosting sales of just about everything, One Direction's Midnight Memories will kick in. It came out two days ago and is already at Number One on iTunes' albums chart in a number of countries, including the U.S. Billboard predicts a first-week debut of more than 500,000 sales, which isn't much compared to 2013 blockbusters by Eminem and Justin Timberlake, but it'd still be one of the year's best-selling albums. Meanwhile, Britney Spears' Britney Jean is due next Tuesday, after leaking and streaming on iTunes Radio this week. So for once, the charts should put up a couple of good weeks in a row.
AND IT'S AN OLD SONG, TOO: You can tell Rihanna has a hot single because the song's YouTube page contains an ad from a major car company. "What Now" scored almost 27 million views over the past 12 days – a jump of 152 spots, to Number 16, on BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria and often predicts future hits. Rihanna is already at Number One on the Digital Songs chart, as the featured singer on Eminem's "The Monster," which sold 241,000 downloads this week and dropped just one percent in sales.
Last week: Lady Gaga's 'Artpop' Debuts at Number One