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On the Charts: Hats Off to Pharrell

He gets Grammy lift; 'Frozen' soundtrack retakes Number One

Pharrell Williams performs in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS
January 29, 2014 12:45 PM ET

Last year: Sales are down! Streaming may be taking over! This year: Sales are ridiculously down! Streaming, please help us! So far in 2014, undoubtedly due to the crappiest monthly release schedule in recent history, track sales are down 12 percent and single sales are down 14 percent. It's still early, and there's plenty of time for some kind of Adele or Taylor Swift blockbuster to save the record industry, but it's grim out there. Here's this week's breakdown.

THE YEAR OF PHARRELL CONTINUES: Pharrell's Yogi Bear-style, giant park ranger hat seemed to be the dramatic Grammy Awards conclusion to the singer-producer's remarkable 2013: he appeared on both Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," in addition to numerous hits by other artists. But the public will still have one more chance to get sick of him, as his "Happy" jumps from Number 11 to Number Three on Billboard's Digital Songs chart, selling 188,000 copies, a boost of 57 percent. Why the surge? The Despicable Me 2 song is nominated for an Oscar, which means its hype should continue through early March, and it's prominently featured in new TV ads for Beats. The video has racked up more than 38 million YouTube views.

Hottest Looks From the Grammys Red Carpet

SALES? FROZEN. WEATHER? FROZEN. BEST-SELLING ALBUM? FROZEN: January 2014 has been a dead zone for new album releases – even more than usual. We're supposed to get excited about the Frozen soundtrack returning to Number One (87,000 in sales, up seven percent)? Or the Grammy Nominees album's annual march into the Top 10, selling 59,000 copies, landing at Number Two? Or Beyoncé's no-longer-surprising album rising from Number Four to Number Three despite a sales drop of 22 percent (48,000 total copies)? The only thing passing for "news" this week is Bruce Springsteen's predictable plunge (26,000 sales for High Hopes, minus 74 percent, from Number One to Number Eight) and Top 10 debuts for A Great Big World (Is There Anybody Out There? is Number Four, with 48,000) and Young the Giant (Mind Over Matter sold 34,000 and wound up at Number Seven, the band's best-selling first week by far).

GRAMMY SALES BUMPS?: Not yet. Not really. This week's charts reflect data ending Sunday night, so Grammy performers' post-broadcast sales grades are incomplete. Billboard identifies 13 albums with Grammy-related sales gains, including Lorde's Pure Heroine (37,000 sales, a gain of 19 percent, a jump from Number Seven to Number Five) and Katy Perry's Prism (25,000, up 11 percent, Number Nine this week and last). Perry's "Dark Horse" single, which she performed during the Grammy show, jumped in sales by 12 percent, selling 294,000 downloads and maintaining its Number One spot on the Digital Songs chart. Other winners: Imagine Dragons, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Bruno Mars and Kacey Musgraves (whose superb Same Trailer Different Park sold just 10,000 copies last week, but jumped 147 percent in sales, shooting from Number 81 to Number 28 on the album chart).

Last week: Bruce Springsteen's 'Hopes' Debuts High

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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.”

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