WINNER OF THE WEEK: The Christmas Cage Match. Rod Stewart's Merry Christmas, Baby had emerged as the early holiday-season favorite, wavering around Number Three and Number Four since it came out in October. But look out! Michael Buble is taking the loaf of bread and bringing it home to his momma! (Thanks to Magic Johnson for that loaf-of-bread line from his short-lived NBA play-by-play career in the Nineties. What can I say? I'm slap-happy at Christmas.) Buble's Christmas leapfrogged Stewart on the charts, jumping from Number Five to Number Three, selling 138,000 copies, an increase of 30 percent. Poor Rod slipped from Number Three to Number Five, dropping 15 percent, selling just 108,000, completing the holiday flip-flop. In other top-of-the-chart news, Taylor Swift's Red is back at Number One (208,000 this week) and Bruno Mars' Unorthodox Jukebox makes its debut with a surprisingly low 192,000 copies.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Ke$ha. Time and circumstances have crippled Warrior on the charts. Last week, Warrior made its debut at Number Six, with a puny 85,000 copies; my theory is the tweens who lionized Ke$ha, Justin Bieber and, to an extent, Drake and Rihanna, back in the good old days of 2010, have grown up and moved onto Japandroids or whatnot. Had Ke$ha made a killer, best-of-career album, she might have overcome this trap, like Pink before her, but Warrior has four or five strong tracks and the rest is so-so. This week, bad luck: the album's first single, "Die Young," was abruptly pulled from dozens of radio playlists throughout North America after the Newtown, Connecticut, tragedy. It should be noted, though, that the track had already started to fade, dropping last week from Number Seven to Number 10 on the Billboard Digital Songs chart, and staying there this week with 94,000 copies.
THEIR GRAMMY NOMINATIONS MAY HAVE HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT: Denver's Lumineers are playing a dangerous game: The acoustic trio's Mumford and Sons-ish single "Ho Hey" is surging just as the holidays are kicking in. (It's Number Three on both iTunes' songs chart and Billboard's digital-songs chart, selling 131,000 copies; it has drawn 23.5 million YouTube views; and it jumped two spots, to Number Four, on BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria.) So album-adult-alternative radio stations might be all over "Ho Hey," for now, but soon programmers everywhere will kick out the Christmas music. Plus, everybody will be home for the holidays, rather than commuting in their cars and waiting for some KBCO-Denver or WXRT-Chicago to play "Ho Hey" another time. Still, speaking for Denverites everywhere, I'd like to officially root for the homeboys. Happy holidays, everyone!
Last week: Bruno Mars Aims for Big Week in Slow Season