So physical CD sales are so bad that digital sales are about to take over. Yet digital sales are terrible too – tracks are down 11 percent this year. (Albums, too, are down 15 percent, but that number includes a mixture of CDs and digital albums.) Streaming better kick in, fast, or some poor record-label employees are going to lose their jobs.
NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL NUMBER ONE?: Finally, a hot new debut album to lead 2014 out of its winter doldrums, scintillate pop-music fans everywhere, launch the record industry to dizzying new heights, cure cancer and unite the world in peace and harmony! Hang on. The album is Now 49 – containing the same old hits we've been hearing for the past year, from Lorde's "Royals" to Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball." Cancel the excitement. Now 49 sold 98,000 copies and hit Number One in its first week, the 17th such Now compilation to do so over the years. But it's just a reminder that the year's charts have been so dismal; with the exception of Bruce Springsteen's High Hopes a month or so ago, the year is just holdovers and retreads. Interestingly, NOW 49 appears to be a physical-CD phenomenon, as it's just Number Six on iTunes' albums chart; online listeners have the tracks already and don't need an album.
DIVORCE AND DISCO: To be fair, new albums have hit the charts – Toni Braxton's Babyface collaboration Love, Marriage & Divorce, Broken Bells' After the Disco and Little Mix's Salute. Braxton's album overcame Billboard's estimates, selling 67,000 and making its debut at Number Four. Which would be a good thing, unless you figure Eighties-Chart Toni would scarf up 2000s-Chart Toni in one bite. Anyway, Broken Bells and Little Mix sold 44,000 and 43,000, respectively, hitting Number Four and Number Five, each a few thousand copies less than their previous debut weeks.
BETTING ON THAT NEXT BIG HIT? Insider's tip: Shakira's "Can't Remember to Forget You," which arrived two weeks ago with a writhing-on-the-bed-in-tight-undergarments video co-starring Rihanna, could be 2014's first big song. Check out the metrics: nearly 111 million YouTube views; Number Three last week on Shazam's charts; more than 10 million Spotify streams; and a surge of 29 spots, to Number Three, on BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart. The song is charting well internationally, and it's a sure thing to break in the U.S. over the next few weeks.