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On the Charts: Jack Johnson Goes 'From Here to Now' to Number One

Plus: Lorde's 'Royals' may be the song of fall

Jack Johnson performs in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images
September 25, 2013 12:40 PM ET

Head-scratching stories like this one notwithstanding, the bad news continues for record labels, especially the biggest ones. Song-download sales are down three percent and album-download sales are down six percent, and even though streaming revenues from advertising and content-licensing are good news, Jack Johnson's Number One album-sales trajectory reflects the industry's direction. But don't worry! Jack will be OK. He'll have concert tickets to sell eventually.

Watch Jack Johnson Recording New Album in Hawaii

YEP, IT'S A NUMBER-ONE JACK JOHNSON ALBUM: Jack Johnson looks exactly the same today as he did in 2010, or 2008, or even 2006 – he's still the laid-back surfer dude from Hawaii with the soothing curly hair and the muscular forearm strumming an acoustic guitar. His music hasn't changed, either, near as I can tell – "I Got You," the love song on his latest album From Here to Now to You, begins with the most relaxing whistling on a record in years. Yet From Here to Now to You sold 117,000 copies in its debut week, compared to 2010's To the Sea (243,000), 2008's Sleep Through the Static (375,000) and 2006's Curious George soundtrack (163,000). Johnson streamed the new album on iTunes a week in advance – a smart idea to compete with pirates downloading the album for free, but most likely these days, not a formula for boosting the album sales to 2008 or 2010 levels.

AT THIS POINT, LORDE MAY BE DRIVING CADILLACS IN HER REALITY: Katy Perry has the pop pedigree (at least in the last few years) and Miley Cyrus has the hype, but Lorde has the harmonies. Her "Royals" may be the song of the fall, selling 307,000 copies and rising from Number Three to Number One on Billboard's Digital Songs chart. Perry's "Roar" drops to Number Two (301,000, a decrease of 10 percent) and Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" slips from Number One to Number Three (301,000, a loss of 37 percent). It's the first time three singles have sold more than 300,000 apiece during a non-Christmas-season week in the Nielsen SoundScan era.

VIRAL SENSATION OF THE WEEK: In 22 days, Ylvis' ridiculously kid-friendly "The Fox" (sample lyric: "frog goes croak and the elephant goes toot") (other sample lyric: "wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow") (third sample lyric: "chacha-chacha-chacha-chow") (I could go on) has drawn more than 54 million YouTube views. Although it has yet to place on the Billboard charts, its online prowess was enough to push it from Number 27 to Number 11 on BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart, which measures online criteria and often predicts future trends. The Norwegian duo, who perform deadpan in furry fox costumes, recently signed a serious deal with major label Warner Music.

Last week: Miley Cyrus Takes 'Wrecking Ball' to the Competition

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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