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On the Charts: 'Frozen,' 'Lego Movie' Dominate

Finding good news in a sea of bad

Elsa from 'Frozen.'
Courtesy Disney
February 26, 2014 3:15 PM ET

Rather than rehashing the same old dismal music-sales news in this space (tracks down 12 percent, albums down 15 percent), let's focus on the good things. Like Pharrell's "Happy" — it's Number One, up 22 percent, selling 402,000 copies! Or John Legend's "All of Me" — it rose 23 percent, sold 203,000 copies and increased to Number Four! All we need are 700 more pieces of news like this and everything will be (see below) awesome.

THE SOUNDTRACK THAT WON'T GO AWAY (FOR HUMANS): Because my 11-year-old daughter and her middle-school friends refuse to stop singing "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?," to the obsessive point that we are deconstructing melodic similarities between that song and Michael Jackson's "Childhood," it's the perfect time to revisit the Frozen soundtrack's chart dominance so far this year. After a brief Eric Church interlude, Frozen sold 89,000 copies (actually a decrease of 11 percent) and hits Number One for the fifth week. (That's five separate weeks, not five weeks in a row.) I've been arguing that the album is huge because it's the only thing out, not counting warmed-over Beyonce and Katy Perry releases from 2013, but the songs are super-catchy and rich in that Annie-Lion King musical sort of way. (Church's The Outsiders, by the way, dropped 74 percent in sales, with 74,000 copies, and is at Number Two.)

THE SOUNDTRACK THAT WON'T GO AWAY (FOR LEGO PEOPLE): Speaking of stupidly catchy songs from kids' movies, "Everything Is AWESOME!!!" [note correct punctuation], the Tegan & Sara-Lonely Island-Mark Mothersbaugh centerpiece to The Lego Movie, is perhaps poised to make a run up the charts. As of last week, according to Billboard, it was at Number 11 on the dance-electronic songs chart, and it made its debut at Number 37 on the latest Ultimate Chart, which often predicts future hits. The video is up to a respectable 3.5 million YouTube views and the song hit Spotify's most-viral-tracks list, although, curiously, it's not available on the service at the moment.

ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Justin Timberlake hasn't done anything new, near as I can tell, to promote his album The 20/20 Experience, Part 2, and yet it jumped into iTunes' Top 10 albums this week. Maybe it's the history-of-rap-part-five video he did with Jimmy Fallon during the talk-show host's new Tonight Show gig last week? Maybe it's the fact that his U.S. tour has finally kicked in, although he had to postpone a show in Buffalo due to health reasons? Or maybe it's because his wife Jessica Biel did some shopping?

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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