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On the Charts: Rihanna's 'Ship' Sails

Plus: Moms rule, album sales back down

May 16, 2012 1:50 PM ET
rihanna
Rihanna performs at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California.
FilmMagic/FilmMagic

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Mother's Day. We're not comfortable generalizing about mothers' musical tastes – this writer's wife, who is a mother, favors George Jones, Parliament and the Sex Pistols – but stereotypical mom-oriented albums got a boost on the Billboard charts this week. Carrie Underwood's Blown Away sticks to Number One for a second straight week, selling 120,000 copies; Adele's 21 jumps from Number Four to Number Two, with 101,000 copies sold; and Lionel Richie's easy-like-Sunday-morning Tuskegee jumps from Number Six to Number Three, selling 71,000 copies. The surge is largely old-school and CD-focused. On iTunes, Underwood is Number One, but Adele is at Number Three and Richie isn't even in the Top 10. Similarly, while Norah Jones' Little Broken Hearts is at Number Five on Billboard (a three-slot drop), she's at Number 10 on iTunes.

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Albums. Last year, record executives expressed optimism that album sales were finally starting to inch back upwards, after plummeting for more than a decade in the post-Napster era. "Maybe we've reached bottom!" some suggested, in so many words, in interviews throughout the year. Or maybe Adele's 21 was an anomaly, and now that it's run its course, sales are dropping again. So far in 2012, record labels have sold 112.32 million albums compared to 113.79 million in 2011, a 1 percent drop. It's still early in the year, but we think it's safe to say that the post-Napster plummeting continues.

SEVEN DAYS OF RIHANNA VIRALITY: Rihanna isn't at the top of the charts at the moment, at least in the traditional Billboard sort of way, but her publicity blitz of the past week is paying off in serious viral action. In addition to doing prominent interviews for her upcoming movie Battleship, her racy video for "Where Have You Been" came out on April 30th and has logged more than 29.5 million views – enough for an 88-spot surge on the Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria. The new single lands at Number Eight, and "We Found Love" climbs 15 slots to Number 32.

LAST WEEK: The Beastie Boys Return to the Charts

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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