WINNER OF THE WEEK: Nicki Minaj. Despite mixed reviews and a disturbing, but still somehow great performance during the Grammys, the pink-haired dervish tops the Billboard charts this week with her not-a-sequel album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. Minaj sold 253,000 copies, better than industry expectations, but not what you'd expect for The Future of Hip-Hop. Still, unlike other pop stars (see this week's "loser"), Minaj has a chance for chart longevity. Roman Reloaded is clearly packed with hit singles: "Starships" is at Number Five on iTunes and Number Eight on BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart (which measures Internet criteria), and "Beez in the Trap" sounded fantastic this morning on SiriusXM.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Madonna. The Material Girl has been causing a stir this week, and for once it's about something relevant to the music business. After making its debut at Number One last week with 359,000 copies sold, Madonna's MDNA album logged just 48,000 copies in its second week, for a drop of 86.7 percent. That's the largest second-week drop in the Soundscan era, after Lady Gaga's Born This Way (84.28 percent) and Mac Miller's Blue Slide Park (82.54 percent) from last year, and Jay-Z's Kingdom Come (79.42 percent) from 2006. While the media seem to be freaking out about this – a British tabloid reporter called us yesterday asking for comment about "Madonna fatigue" – we're not ready to bury the Queen of Pop's career just yet. First, like Amazon's price-slashing of the Gaga album last year, Madonna boosted sales with a concert-ticket-plus-CD promotion (Prince did the same in 2004), so the anomaly was really the high first-week number. Second, every veteran star seems to strike a big first week followed by a precipitous decline these days. Just a few weeks ago, Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball suffered a 71 percent drop in its second week. Third, Madonna's record company is essentially a concert promoter, Live Nation, and it could care less about record sales as long as fans buy $350 tickets for her tour.
THE ADELE WATCH: We at 'On the Charts' love Adele, but we're paying close attention to signs that the singer-songwriter's absurdly long-standing reign over the album and singles charts is coming to an end. Her 21 album remains at Number Two on the Billboard 200 with 153,000 copies sold, an increase of 26 percent. However, the album has dropped off iTunes' album charts and all of Adele's singles have disappeared from the Top 10 lists of iTunes, Billboard and the Ultimate Chart. Her highest-ranking single, "Set Fire to the Rain," is just Number 12 on Billboard (a drop of six slots) and Number 19 (a drop of three) on the Ultimate Chart.