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On the Charts: One Direction's Big Debut, Springsteen's Slide

Plus: Price wars boost sales of Guns 'N Roses 'Greatest Hits'

One Direction performs on NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.
Al Pereira/WireImage
March 21, 2012 12:30 PM ET

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.

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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