Had Lana Del Rey made Ultraviolence 15 years ago, she would have sold 10 million copies and become the Next Alanis Morissette. Instead, she lives in 2014, and all she gets is a miniscule Number One debut and the hope of selling a bunch of concert tickets. It’s sad, but she can warm herself at night with 5 million YouTube views and 3 million Spotify streams of “Shades of Cool.” Overall, album sales are down 15 percent and track sales are down 13 percent.
GLOOMIEST NUMBER ONE SINCE THE CIVIL WARS!: It’s weird how singer-songwriter Del Rey attracts controversy for doing nothing more than making really good albums. Ultraviolence, which sounds like one of those old James Bond-movie chaunteuses singing about gloom and despair, hits Number One with 182,000 sales in its debut week. That’s more than twice as much as she sold with her 2012 debut Born to Die, but I can’t seeing it stick to the charts long — Del Rey’s first video “Shades of Cool” had just 4.5 million YouTube views since it came out last week, which is nice, but not exactly following the Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” trajectory.
ON THE POP CHARTS THIS WEEK—ULTRAVIOLENCE AND LONELINESS: At Number Two this week on Billboard‘s album chart, British singer Sam Smith did far more to promote In the Lonely Hour than Del Rey did for Ultraviolence. Whereas she avoided TV appearances, he was on Letterman, Good Morning America and The View. Yet Ultraviolence hit Number One, relegating In the Lonely Hour to Number Two, with 166,000 copies. This suggests Del Rey has become one of those automatic pop stars, a recognizable name that needs to do little to promote herself in order to gain a significant number of fans. Smith isn’t there yet.
CONTINUING THE GLOOMY THEME—EVEN PSY IS HUNGOVER: After Psy’s “Gangnam Style” hit 2 billion views a couple of weeks ago, I read a bunch of Tweets suggesting all the big, important things people could have done in lieu of watching this video 2 billion times. But I am not ashamed! Pop music is supposed to be the best possible way of wasting your time. I’m not sure that logic applies, though, to Psy’s new “Hangover” video, co-starring Snoop Dogg in a series of snappy suits, which has nearly 81.5 million YouTube views and hit Number Four on BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria. The video shows Psy hurling in a toilet and Snoop whacking him on the back and contains little of “Gangnam’s” fizzy weirdness.