WINNER OF THE WEEK: One Direction. A few weeks ago when we suggested that the Wanted might herald the return of boy bands, a publicist emailed us immediately. One Direction is the band you want to write about, said the flack. We're starting to come around to that point of view – or at least, to the idea that these bands might be developing a Backstreet Boys vs. 'NSync rivalry for the Recession Generation. Although floppy-haired hunks One Direction sold just 176,000 copies of their Up All Night LP in its first week on sale, that's enough to make them the first U.K. group to hit Number One with a debut album. They also just announced a North American tour this morning, in which the biggest venues are arenas. This can't be right. Didn't the last boy band era just end? Eleven years ago feels just like yesterday.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Bruce Springsteen. And that's after kicking off a world tour with his E Street Band and giving the best keynote speech of all time at SXSW. None of this was enough to buttress the drop of Springsteen's latest album, Wrecking Ball, from its Number One debut last week to Number Four, with just 57,000 copies sold – a decrease of 71 percent. Fan-made YouTube videos of Springsteen's SXSW performances have hit the tens of thousands, but that's not nearly enough to give him a hit single on the Ultimate Chart, which measures online engagement. Like so many of his veteran rock star peers, Springsteen will have to content himself with a sold-out trek.
YOU STILL CAN'T BEAT THESE PRICES: The price wars between Google Play and AmazonMP3 continue to boost sales. Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits, the latest digital album to go on sale for 25 cents, jumped this week from Number 31 to Number Three, selling 85,000 copies for an increase of 618 percent. On the flip side, NOW 41 dropped from Number Three to Number Eight with 29,000 copies, or a loss of 81 percent, after its 25-cent deal ended. Even the less dramatic price slashes are pretty enticing this month: Google Play is selling Katy Perry's Teenage Dream for $2.99, and Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne, Rihanna's Talk That Talk and Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle are available for $3.99 apiece.