WINNER OF THE WEEK: Bruno Mars. The R&B sleeper made two smart moves this fall. He put out “Locked Out of Heaven,” a catchy little thing with excellent beeping noises that has drawn almost 37 million YouTube views and sold 197,000 copies, rising from Number Five to Number One on Billboard‘s Digital Songs Chart. And he planned his album, Unorthodox Jukebox, for yesterday, during a slow week that still appears to be recovering from post-Black Friday malaise. It’s a dead zone for big albums at the moment, other than the Game, Big Boi and a couple of Glee collections, none of which stands a chance, chart-wise, against Bruno next week. But Taylor Swift’s Red may be resurgent – this week it sold 167,000 and returned to Number One.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Rihanna. Maybe this paragraph should be titled “Schizophrenic Pop Star of the Week.” Rihanna’s latest album Unapologetic dropped from Number One to Number Six last week, then out of the Top 10 this week. And yet digital-song sales for “Diamonds” jumped 17 percent to 143,000, pushing her from Number Eight to Number Two. I have three theories about Ri-Ri’s albums-versus-singles dichotomy: First, Unapologetic isn’t as obviously great as Rihanna’s previous albums, and its prices ($12 on iTunes, $10 on Amazon and $15 for a CD) are too high to draw casual fans. Next, Rihanna didn’t allow Unapologetic on Spotify, thus preventing Mumford and Sons-style online buzz (I wonder if Ke$ha’s Warrior is having the same problem this week). Finally, some people are singles artists, some people are album artists and that’s how the story goes.
GOOD GOD, IT’S CHRISTMAS: Christmas always means cash in the music industry – in addition to country stars like Kenny Rogers and Martina McBride dragging holiday extravaganzas on tour, Rod Stewart’s Merry Christmas, Baby appears to be holding in the perpetual Josh Groban slot, selling 127,000 copies, an increase of nine percent, and hitting Number Three. Michael Bublé’s Christmas is surging this week, increasing sales by 61 percent and selling 106,000 copies, rising from Number Seven to Number Five. Also, Blake Shelton’s “Cheers, It’s Christmas” rose 29 percent, selling 68,000 digital songs, landing at Number Eight on that chart, and next week Glee the Music: The Christmas Album, Volume Three, is likely to come ring-ting-tingling into view as well.