Fill in the blanks: According to Nielsen Soundscan, album sales are down ___ percent and tracks are down ___ percent. Did you guess 15 and 13? Congratulations! You have been paying attention to 2014’s strangely consistent download-business collapse. Your prize, a beautifully retro RIAA platinum-album certification plaque, will arrive any day.
WEIRDEST COMEBACK EVER: I admit to giving up on “Weird Al” Yankovic after an unfortunate period in the late Nineties when my 11-year-old nephew insisted on loudly singing his parodies, then correcting me when I inadvertently sang the originals instead. But Al’s new Mandatory Fun is surprisingly great — “I’ll fix your plumbing when your toilets overflow,” he sings on “Handy,” a spin of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” — and his video-a-day marketing campaign should serve as a music-business manual for all artists putting out albums. It’s also the first Number One for Yankovic in his 31-year career, with Fun track “NOW That’s What I Call Polka!” (notably not one of the eight videos released) topping Spotify’s Viral Charts in seven countries. Unbelievably, Mandatory Fun, which sold 104,000 copies, is the first Number One comedy album since Allan Sherman’s My Son, the Nut in 1963. (That’s the one with “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” and, yes, the album is available on Spotify.)
DOG DAYS OF SUMMER—OFFICIALLY: The top 10 was dominated by debuts as Jason Mraz (Number Two, 81,000 copies), Rise Against (The Black Market, Number Three, 53,000) and Kidz Bop (Number Four, 46,000) all joined Weird Al. Aside from the singles collection NOW (Number Eight, 23,000) and Blake Shelton (Based On a True Story . . ., Number 10 with a 386 percent sales increase thanks mostly to $5.99 iTunes prices), many albums dropped sharply this week, with Frozen, Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour, Ed Sheeran’s x and Trey Songz’ Trigga losing sales in the double-digit percentages. These are supposed to be our biggest pop albums! Maybe artists will get fed up soon and stop releasing them.
OVER TO YOU, 5 SECONDS OF SUMMER: Three reasons Becky G’s “Shower” could be the summer’s sleeper hit: 1) It was produced by Dr. Luke; 2) it has 3.7 million YouTube views and 14.6 million Spotify streams; 3) it mentions the Fourth of July; 4) it mentions dancing in the mirror and singing in the shower; 5) “la-da-di, la-da-da, la-da-da”; 6) it jumped 18 spots, to Number 25, on the Ultimate Chart, which measures online criteria and often predicts hit singles; 6) Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea notwithstanding, it’s July 23rd and we haven’t experienced a truly all-encompassing summer single.