WINNER OF THE WEEK: Fall Out Boy. Save Rock and Roll is the title of the once-mighty emo band’s comeback album – and maybe it’s not even an exaggeration. That speaks to the health of rock & roll more than it does to Fall Out Boy, who sold 154,000 copies this week and made their debut at Number One, beating rapper Kid Cudi’s Indicud, which sold 136,000. With a few exceptions, such as Imagine Dragons, Fun. and Maroon 5, all of whom are more pop than strictly rock bands, well-known rockers tend to leap into the Top 10, and then drop off immediately. FOB may seem like a 2005 throwback – remember wacky bassist Pete Wentz’ celebrity marriage and sex tape? – but the band has a secret weapon in underrated frontman Patrick Stump, who is in fine voice on Save Rock and Roll. The band smartly “underplayed” for its spring/summer tour, selling out Houses of Blueses, ballrooms and theaters everywhere, then expanding to arenas in the fall.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Paramore. Speaking of well-known rockers quickly dropping down the charts, Fall Out Boy’s slightly punkier colleagues lost 74 percent in sales after last week’s Number One debut. Their album Paramore sold 27,000 copies, landing at Number 12. In the band’s defense, it was a slow week – Justin Timberlake‘s The 20/20 Experience lost 22 percent of sales (76,000, Number Three), Blake Shelton’s Based on a True Story lost 31 percent (42,000, Number Four), the Band Perry’s Pioneer lost 35 percent (37,000, Number Six) and Brad Paisley’s Wheelhouse lost 66 percent (34,000, Number Seven). Some good news – the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who are more arty and punky than Paramore and Fall Out Boy combined, hit the Top 10 for the first time. Mosquito‘s Number Five debut would have been Nevermind-level news if this were 1992 and Number Five albums sold the way they used to sell. Instead, look for a drop next week.
HE COULD HAVE SOLVED THIS BY MAKING A FEW MEN SNIFF HIS PANTS: A few readers pointed out that my critique of Psy’s new video “Gentleman” last week (“misogyny disguised as teasing”) ignored its Korean social commentary – Psy wasn’t perpetuating sexism when he made an unsuspecting woman in a library sniff whatever’s in his underpants, he was lampooning regional sexism, and we Americans wouldn’t understand. That may be true. I may be missing a layer. But I have a 10-year-old American daughter, and she no longer thought the jolly, funny guy from “Gangnam Style” was jolly and funny. Perceptions matter, and cryptic international subcontexts need to be explained, especially for a super-popular video like “Gentleman,” which is up to 216 million YouTube views since it came out last week. (That’s enough for just Number 12 on Billboard‘s Hot 100, which incorporates YouTube data these days, and Number Five on BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart, which emphasizes Internet criteria.) Notably, it has yet to place in Billboard‘s Digital Songs or iTunes’ Top Songs.
Last week: Psy’s ‘Gentleman’ Earns YouTube Love