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On the Charts: Jay Z Stays on Top

Also: Breaking down the midyear sales figures

Jay Z performs in London.
Joseph Okpako/Getty Images
July 24, 2013 1:05 PM ET

It was such a slow week that rapper Ace Hood's Trials & Tribulations made it to Number Four despite selling a relatively small 34,000 copies. Just 4.7 million albums were sold this week overall, down six percent compared to last week (also known as Magna Carta . . . Holy Grail week), down 12 percent compared to the same week last year and down six percent compared to last year's overall sales. Even digital tracks continue to droop, by three percent.

657,000 WITH AN ASTERISK: The impressive thing about Jay Z's Magna Carta . . . Holy Grail is that for each sales figure, you have to add one million to it, accounting for the number of downloads Samsung gave away to Galaxy smartphone users before the album came out in early July. MCHG sold 129,000 copies this week, bringing its official two-week total to 657,000 – Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan don't count the Samsung giveaways, but I can, so that makes 1,657,000. That'd be enough for the year's second-best-selling album to date, after Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience, which has managed 2.037 million. Not bad for two weeks.

LOOK AT BRUNO SELLING SINGLES AND ALBUMS: The rest of 2013's five best-selling albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan's mid-year report from last week: 2) Bruno Mars' Unorthodox Jukebox, at 985,000; 3) Mumford & Sons' Babel, at 884,000; 4) Blake Shelton's Based on a True Story, 703,000; and 5) Imagine Dragons' Night Visions, 692,000. The year's biggest single so far is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop," which sold 5,558,000, leaving Pink's "Just Give Me a Reason" (Number Two, 3.524 million) and Mars' "When I Was Your Man" (Number Three, 3.424 million) far behind. Last year, Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" hit 5.5 million by midyear and wound up with 6.8 million, so there's hope for "Thrift Shop"'s resilience. On the other hand, fun.'s "We Are Young" had 5 million at the break and landed just under 6 million.

LABEL MARKET SHARE UPDATE!: A few more sexy details from SoundScan's mid-year report: Universal Music Group's share of the record-selling market leaped from 29 to 38 percent, mostly because of the biggest label's purchase of the smallest one, EMI. The best-selling CDs were more or less the same as the best-selling albums overall, only artists with, you know, mature fans, such as Josh Groban and Michael Buble, popped into the Top 10. And the best-selling vinyl albums were Daft Punk's Random Access Memories (32,000) and Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires of the City (20,000). The most streaming pageviews came from Baauer's "Harlem Shake" (nearly 438.5 million), Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" (186.8 million) and Psy's lingering "Gangnam Style" (150.6 million).

Last week: Jay Z Lands 13th Number One Album

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Song Stories

“Bizness”

Tune-Yards | 2011

The opening track to Merrill Garbus’ second album under the Tune-Yards banner (she also plays in the trio Sister Suvi), “Bizness” is a song about relationships that is as colorful as the face paint favored by Garbus both live and in her videos. Disjointed funk bass, skittering African beats, diced-and-sliced horns and Garbus’ dynamic voice, which ranges from playful coos to throat-shredding howls, make “Bizness” reminiscent of another creative medium. “I'd like for them not to be songs as much as quilts or collages or something,” Garbus said.

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