WINNER OF THE WEEK: Taylor Swift. Her album Red just came out yesterday, and Billboard's retail sources are already predicting 1 million in first-week sales. By today's piracy-plagued standards, that's gigantic – since Swift's previous album Speak Now came out in November 2010, the only other album to hit this mark in a week was Lady Gaga's Born This Way. And she needed a crazy Amazon 99-cent deal to do it. I'll get into more nuts and bolts next week about how Taylor accomplished this, but for now I'll just observe that Taylor has three singles in iTunes' Top Songs this week – the new "State of Grace" (Number Two, with 209,000 overall sales, according to Billboard), "I Knew You Were Trouble" (Number Three, with 156,000 overall) and the ubiquitous "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (Number Eight). Another note: Red hit Number Two on iTunes this week after just one day of sales.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Those of us who were hoping to put Christmas season off as long as possible. Hey, music business, it's October! Not even Halloween! And yet the first holiday hit is already here – Christmas with Scotty McCreery, by the American Idol winner, which sold 41,000 copies and made its debut at Number Four. Nothing against holiday albums, but isn't that what Black Friday is for? Buying holiday albums?
AND SPEAKING OF COUNTRY MUSIC: Rising country hero Jason Aldean's Night Train sold 409,000 copies, second-biggest debut of the year, behind Mumford and Sons' Babel, and hit Number One this week. That's 60,000 more copies than Justin Bieber's Believe sold in its first week in early September, and it's more than double the amount of Aldean's 2010 album My Kinda Party. (With a few exceptions, notably Adele and Taylor Swift, most stars' sales drop these days from album to album.) Another rare achievement for Aldean: for a few dates on his 2013 tour, he'll headline baseball stadiums.