On the Charts: Josh Groban, Tim McGraw Debut One-Two

Grammy bumps forthcoming for Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Lumineers

Josh Groban in New York City
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for iHeart Radio
February 13, 2013 11:55 AM ET

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Pop stars old people like. In a slow week, before the Grammy Awards have kicked in, the artists who sell the most albums are beloved by old-school record buyers. Josh Groban, whose perfect classical singing and sort-of-pop arrangements have led to 21.7 million in record sales over the years, hits Number One with 145,000 copies of All That Echoes. Tellingly, that's with zero hit singles, which means he isn't even bothering with The Kids, whose iTunes purchases have propped up Katy Perry, Rihanna, Gotye and Carly Rae Jepsen for years. Number Two is another throwback, country star Tim McGraw, whose Two Lanes of Freedom sells 107,000. Both stars are in the old-school music business – with no hit singles, their albums are likely to drop, but it won't matter, because they'll sell big-time concert tickets.

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Swedish House Mafia. Briefly, I had a fantasy that the Swedish trio's breezy "Don't You Worry Child" might sustain, Rihanna-like, on the singles charts and carry the entire electronic-dance-music genre with it for the long term. And it still could happen: The plunge of "Don't You Worry Child" from Number Four to Number Seven, with 117,000 sales, a decrease of four percent, may be just a statistical blip. But surprisingly, only a few songs of that style have cracked the Top 20, including David Guetta's "Titanium" (Number Eight), Calvin Harris' "Feel So Close" (Number 12) and Rihanna's collaboration with Harris, "We Found Love" (Number One). So far, EDM appears to be a live trend, able to sell hundreds of thousands of tickets to festivals such as the annual Electric Daisy Carnival without traditional, radio-fueled, Hot 100-style hits.

BUBBLING UP FROM THE GRAMMYS: The full Grammy-fueled sales week won't kick in until next Wednesday, but for now, the big sales winners appear to be: Maroon 5's "Daylight" (121,000 sales, an increase of 28 percent, from Number 10 to Number Seven); Bruno Mars' Unorthodox Jukebox album (41,000, up 10 percent after his duet with Sting, although it dropped on the charts from Number Six to Number Eight); the Lumineers' The Lumineers (39,000, up 21 percent, dropped from Number Nine to Number 10); and Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie" (120,000, up 33 percent, from Number 11 to Number Eight). These established artists are likely to sustain sales bumps through the next week or more, but I'm especially curious about whether rising R&B stars Frank Ocean and Miguel, both of whom rocked it during the Grammy show, get chart momentum as well.

Last week: Justin Bieber Hits Back, Acoustic

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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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