If you’re looking for record-industry good news, album sales have actually climbed 4 percent—but that’s just compared to last week. Overall, they’re down 16 percent this year (actually a staggering number), and track sales are down 13 percent (which is even more disturbing, considering the decline in CDs and the not-yet-arrived rise of streaming services). But maybe a new boy band will rescue everybody, forever!
TWO HOT BOY BANDS = ALWAYS BETTER THAN ONE: Remember that time when Jonas Brothers vanished and One Direction replaced them? Or that other time that other boy band disappeared and some other boy band replaced it? This week may be another time like that. 5 Seconds of Summer, four hunky boys from Australia with perfect haircuts and breezy pop songs that mention major clothing brands, put out just four songs on their new EP She Looks So Perfect, but the album sold 143,000 copies and made its debut at Number Two, below the impenetrable Frozen soundtrack. Boy bands come in twos —just as Backstreet Boys and ‘NSYNC had the same manager, Lou Pearlman, and fed off each other for greater and greater record and ticket sales, 5 Seconds and One Direction have the same management, Modest, and are touring together.
THE U.S. MARKETING IS OCCASIONALLY TRICKY FOR SHAKIRA: With so many chart debuts this week—including bluegrass trio Nickel Creek’s comeback A Dotted Line, which sold 27,000 copies and landed at Number Seven—Shakira’s self-titled album had no place to go but down. This surprises me, because her single “Can’t Remember to Forget You” contained a Rihanna duet and arrived with an extremely sexy video, which has more than 250 million YouTube views, and the song placed well in Shazam’s hit-predicting charts earlier this year. But after hitting Number Two last week, Shakira dropped 66 percent in sales, selling just 29,000 copies and falling to Number Five. Maybe her new single “Empire,” whose sad-wedding video has racked up almost 19 million views since it came out in late March, can bring the album back to life.
CHART-WATCHERS, UNDERESTIMATE LADY GAGA AT YOUR PERIL: Last year’s Artpop wasn’t a bad Lady Gaga album, and I’ve been waiting for something to rescue it from flopland. That thing may be “G.U.Y.,” a not-bad song with a characteristically weird and sexy video, containing awesomely incongruous images of Michael Jackson and Jesus. It has scored more than 31 million YouTube views since it came out in late March, and climbed 38 spots, to Number 15, on BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria and often predicts hit songs.