January music-sales numbers are always weird, so don't read too much into the 15 percent drop in album sales and 11 percent drop in digital-track sales so far in 2014. An Adele-style blockbuster could come along at any moment. Anyway, streaming is taking over from sales, right? That's certainly what Beats Music is banking on, as the headphone giant Beats by Dre prepares to launch its new $10-a-month subscription service next Tuesday. Until then, enjoy another week of Frozen and Beyoncé chart success.
Where Does Katy Perry's 'Roar' Rank on the 100 Best Songs of 2013?
THE FIRST BIG 2014 SINGLE?: Pop stars and the record business are just starting to wake up from the holidays this week – Bruce Springsteen's High Hopes came out yesterday, which to me represents the unofficial beginning of the 2014 album-release schedule. But for now the only thing resembling a new hit is Katy Perry's "Dark Horse," which came out in September but, after scoring almost 23 million YouTube views, has taken off on the radio. It jumps from Number Four to Number One on Billboard's Digital Songs chart, selling 243,000 downloads, an increase of six percent – already a better showing than her last single, "Unconditionally," which peaked at Number 15.
THE FIRST BIG 2014 SINGLE RELEASED IN 2013?: It's a new year, with new ideas, new energy, new songs and . . . Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines"? Last year's best-selling single (6.5 million copies) is unexpectedly surging on both Billboard's Hot 100 (from Number 28 to Number 19) and BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart (from Number 36 to Number 22). Why? It could be a combination of lingering holiday iTunes gift-card purchases and pre-Grammy anticipation. Or it could be the news that Marvin Gaye's children, who own the rights to the Motown classic "Got to Give It Up," have finally settled their copyright-infringement claims.
THE FIRST BIG 2014 CHART COMEBACK SPURRED BY ROCK CRITICS?: The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics' poll is out today, and every now and then it registers a chart blip. This year the beneficiaries are likely to be Kanye West's Yeezus, which was the Number One album, and Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," the Number One single. Kanye is the more likely candidate for a resurgence, because the hip-hop superstar's dissonant-sounding album didn't sell nearly as well as his previous releases, and retrospective critical praise could have some viral impact. "Get Lucky," on the other hand, peaked many months ago as a huge summer single and is unlikely to come back. But you never know.