On the Charts: A Hard Week for Hard Rock - Rolling Stone
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On the Charts: A Hard Week for Hard Rock

Seether hits Number Two – but only sells 61,000 albums

WINNER OF THE WEEK: It’s a Wednesday, so it’s time to celebrate yet another rock band that managed to sell something like 50,000 or so albums and spend a week in the Top 10. Today it’s Seether, whose Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray is the highest-charting album of the band’s career. It hit Number Two, with 61,000 copies sold. The band’s previous album, Karma and Effect, sold 81,000 in 2005 – but that was only enough for Number Eight. So far this year, the Foo Fighters, the Strokes, Cake and Rise Against have hit similar first-week numbers then abruptly dropped down the charts. It’s a lukewarm sales climate for meat-and-potatoes rock bands these days.

LOSER OF THE WEEK: The week itself. Seriously, people, these numbers are bloody. According to the May 26, 2001, issue of Billboard, Destiny’s Child’s Survivor hit Number One with 359,000 copies sold; Paul McCartney made its debut in second place with Wingspan, at 220,500; and Janet Jackson’s All for You dropped to Number Three with a mere 216,000 units. This week’s Top Three: Adele’s 21, at 137,000; Seether, 61,000; and NOW 38, 50,000. Yeah, we know, things have changed, people get stuff for free, piracy is rampant. It’s still disturbing.

HAPPY LADY GAGA WEEK, EVERYBODY!: Actually, chart-wise, it’s not technically Gaga Week yet, because Nielsen Soundscan figures sales don’t come out until eight or nine days after any given record release. So Born This Way, which arrived Monday and which Billboard estimates will sell between 450,000 to 750,000 in its debut week, has yet to take over as expected from Adele’s 21 at Number One. Those predictions seem low, if only compared to Taylor Swift’s Speak Now, which hit 1,047,000 in its first week last November. We’ve long believed that Gaga and Swift are the only music superstars of the modern, sales-challenged era who can approach these kinds of numbers. Plus, while Swift partnered with Target to release her album, Gaga has gone synergy-crazy, teaming with Starbucks, Google Chrome, Gilt Groupe, Best Buy and FarmVille (“GagaVille,” anybody?). Gaga is spraying hot singles onto the charts as if from her gun-bra, pushing the new “Hair” to Number Five (147,000 sales) just as last week’s “The Edge of Glory”drops from Number Two to Number 14. She has three songs on BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart (the aforementioned two and “Judas”), which means the Internet still likes her plenty. This bodes well for future sales, but for the first week, anything less than 1 million is actually a disappointment.

LAST WEEK: Lonely Island’s Schtick Lands Them at Number Three


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