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On the Charts: Valentine's Day Shows Love to Album Sales

Imagine Dragons, Miley Cyrus also get bump from iTunes discount

Miley Cyrus performs in Vancouver, Canada.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage
February 19, 2014 1:40 PM ET

The year's music-sales news continues to be bleak — track sales are down 12 percent, and album sales are down 16 percent  but this week suggests some hope. Thanks to Valentine's Day, album sales jumped 20 percent compared to the previous week, and track sales were up 7 percent. Can the trend continue? Depends. Will there be more hit records?

THE HIT DEBUT RETURNS  FOR ONE WEEK, AT LEAST: What's that? A hit album? Finally, for the first time in 2014  unless you count one so-so-selling Springsteen album and NOW 49  the endangered species "Number One debut" returns. Eric Church's The Outsiders sold a respectable 288,000 copies, and has a chance to hang around the charts for a while. Although its early videos are hardly in Miley Cyrus territory  "Give Me Back My Hometown" has about 1.1 million YouTube views  that song has performed well on Shazam's New Releases chart, which often predicts big hits. Also, while rock and hip-hop albums have frequently plunged in sales after their debut weeks over the past few years, upper-echelon country releases such as Luke Bryan's Crash My Party tend to stick around. Other debut albums in the Top 10 this week? None.

PHARRELL'S SUCCESS CONTINUES  AND MAYBE FOR THE LONG TERM: I thought 2013 was Pharrell's year, but it may have been the beginning of a two-year medley. Due in part to a boost from his ranger-hat appearance on the Grammy Awards a few weeks ago, the super-producer's new single "Happy" rose from Number Two to Number One on Billboard's Digital Songs chart, selling 329,000, an increase of 31 percent. The metrics for that slick Despicable Me 2 pop jam are excellent  it has 67 million YouTube views, more than 20 million Spotify streams and is also Number One on iTunes' top-selling songs list. Perhaps not coincidentally, Pharrell's label today announced a release date for his upcoming album, G I R L of March 3rd.

NOTHING SAYS "I LOVE YOU" LIKE A CHEAP MILEY CYRUS ALBUM: Valentine's Day no longer carries the power to singlehandedly launch an album the way Norah Jones' Feels Like Home turned into a smash after it came out on February 9th, 2004. But I'm guessing that numerous men picked Beyonce's self-titled album over flowers and chocolates, to the extent that it sold 48,000 copies this week, an increase of 26 percent and a jump from Number Seven to Number Four. Also Valentinious: Imagine Dragons' Night Visions, which scored 41,000 copies and increased 77 percent, from Number 12 to Number Six; and Miley Cyrus' Bangerz, 29,000, up 96 percent, from Number 18 to Number 10. Of course, in the Dragons and Miley cases, both received boosts from $6.99 iTunes sales, or so Billboard reports.

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