WINNER OF THE WEEK: Current Rolling Stone cover subject Adele (Number One, 88,000 this week, 1.03 million total) is old news. Our fave album of the year so far, Britney Spears' Femme Fatale, has not yet caught fire. So we turn our attention to Number Four – the Continuing Death of Rock. Whoops! We meant to say Hollywood Undead, the Los Angeles rap-rock band trying to resurrect the spirit of Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and the late Nineties. H.U. is backed by a big record label (A&M/Octone) with smart marketers (the people who brought us Maroon 5 and Flyleaf) and diverse sales ideas (exclusive deluxe CD for Best Buy, 12-inch picture disc for indie stores on Record Store Day, autographed booklet at indie record store chain Newbury Comics, free "Been to Hell" video at Amazon, etc.). The scarily masked band sold 66,000 copies this week, its biggest one-week number ever, and is relentlessly touring House of Blueses and Fillmores throughout the U.S. for maximum fanbase build-up. Could work.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: The entire week! After a long run of exciting new stuff like Wiz Khalifa's Rolling Papers, Britney, Grammy boosts for Mumford & Sons, fleetingly selling but interesting rock debuts such as the Strokes and Rise Against and Katy Perry's dominant Kanye-guest-starring single "E.T.," we've finally hit a release malaise. Other than Hollywood Undead, the only new album in Billboard's Top 10 is Asking Alexandria's Reckless & Relentless (Number Nine, 31,000 copies), and we have to look all the way down to Number 57 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles charts to find a new entry – Khalifa's "When I'm Gone." That song (Number 52), as well as Britney's "I Wanna Go" (61), Pitbull's "Give Me Everything" (83) and Far East Movement's "Girls On the Dance Floor" (85), are the only debuts this week on BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart, which measures not only traditional sales but also YouTube views, iTunes digital sales, Facebook hits and so forth. What happened? Everybody's busy searching for early Easter eggs?
ON A RELATED NOTE: Anybody remember Sam Adams, the rapper who was rumored to have bought 7,500 of his own digital singles and wound up Number One on iTunes? Adams and others have thoroughly denied these nefarious actions since the rumors popped up last March, but we wonder what the economics are of pulling off such a scam. This week, Adele's 21 sold 88,000 copies, hitting Number One; better yet, in notoriously slow January, Cake reached that pinnacle with just 44,000 copies. Let's say we recorded an album in our basement, then put it for sale digitally on Amazon for $5. In addition to (probably minimal) recording costs, we could conceivably spend $220,000 buying enough copies to reach Number One on the still-influential Billboard charts. That's enough to reach overnight-sensation level, right? (It'd be even cheaper with singles, but perhaps less reliable.) This would be far more marketing/promotion expenses than we (and just about every starving musician) could afford, of course, but certainly some desperate pop-star wannabe with a trust fund or government bailout money would have the means to reach this milestone and follow it up with crazy follow-up marketing. Of course, you'd have to not get caught.
LAST WEEK: Britney's 'Femme Fatale' Hits Number One