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On the Charts: She and Him, the Killers Score With Christmas Pop

Five holiday albums top iTunes sales

December 7, 2011 3:40 PM ET
she and him christmas
M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel of She & Him.
Autumn de Wilde

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Christmas music on iTunes. In a slow, post-Black Friday, pre-last-minute-shopping week, five albums on iTunes' Top 10 had holiday themes: the Killers' (RED) Christmas, She and Him's A Very She and Him Christmas, Glee's Christmas album and, of course, the lingering smashes by Michael Bublé and Justin Bieber. Interestingly, nary a holiday single made iTunes' top songs list, a phenomenon for which we have two theories. One is that cool, exclusive holiday singles such as My Morning Jacket's "When the Bells Start Ringing" and Kelly Clarkson's "I'll Be Home for Christmas" won't chart until next week. Another is that iTunes is packed with quality singles these days by specialists such as Bruno Mars, Rihanna, LMFAO and Katy Perry, so it's hard for Christmas novelties to squeeze them off the singles list. However, the week was pretty barren for hot new album releases.

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Rock music. Rather than knocking on Nickelback again – although, for the record, we did name the Canadian pop-metal goons "Winner of the Week" last time – we'll just use their album Here and Now as yet more evidence that the band's genre is no longer a chart  phenomenon. Over and over this year, from Cake to Coldplay, we've seen rock albums make strong Top 10 debuts then drop precipitously a week later. It's happening with Nickelback, too – with 78,000 in sales this week, the band dropped 66 percent, from Number Two to Number Five. That's despite a massive jump of 42 slots up the most recent Ultimate Chart, which measures online stuff such as YouTube views and Facebook likes, to Number Seven. Here's a clue to the big second-week decline: their "When We Stand Together" video landed more than 39 million YouTube views in its first week (it came out on November 23rd) but has slightly fewer than 41 million views today. To recap: 39 million in one week, two million the next. Not good.

THE GRAMMY NOMINATION BOOST?: Grammy nominations came out too late last week to place on the conventional charts, but we received an interesting list from Facebook regarding its "fastest-growing musicians, actors and songs." (We presume this refers to the fastest-growing popularity of musicians, actors and songs and not that, like, Rihanna is suddenly 75 feet tall.) The Top Three "most-listened-to songs" aren't too surprising – Rihanna, Katy Perry, LMFAO – but farther down the list are things such as thrash-dancer Skrillex's "First of the Year" and "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" and David Guetta's collaboration with Sia, "Titanium." This leads us to believe that the nominations served their purpose, at least in part, to help people learn about interesting new music that they might not have discovered otherwise amid the pop dominance of Lady Gaga and Adele.

LAST WEEK: Nickelback Defies Doubters

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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