DOLDRUMS TILL VALENTINE’S DAY: Welcome to the saddest music-sales week of the year, when nobody has money left to buy CDs or downloads, and iTunes gift cards have long been spent. With one exception – the Number Eight Into the Woods soundtrack, based on a film that came out on Christmas Day – every album in the Top 10 has lost big sales. Taylor Swift‘s 1989 (Number One) sold 172,000 copies, a drop of 47 percent; Nicki Minaj‘s The Pinkprint, holding at Number Two, sold 51,000, losing 52 percent; Ed Sheeran‘s X improved from Number Seven to Number Three while selling 39,000, a drop of “only” 38 percent; and Sam Smith‘s In the Lonely Hour rose from Number Five to Number Four with 48,000, a loss of 40 percent.
“PROBLEM” FANS STILL LIKE SINGLES AND STREAMING APPARENTLY: You may have noticed above that I’ve listed old-fashioned sales numbers rather than the “units” based on streaming and the track sales that determine the Billboard 200 these days. Sometimes it’s just easier to explain things in terms of, you know, copies. The charts haven’t changed much since Billboard instituted its policy in late November. The main beneficiary remains Ariana Grande‘s My Everything – in terms of sales, the album scored a lackluster 11,000, dropped 65 percent and languishes on the Top Album Sales chart at Number 26. But its units tallied 43,000, which despite a 45 percent drop is enough for a Billboard 200 slot at Number 10.
THE YEAR OF SREMMURD?: Any guesses as to which single is dominating early 2015? No fair listing last-year stalwarts like Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk!” Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” or anything by Meghan Trainor. May I suggest shouty hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd’s “No Type,” which has more than 20 million Spotify streams, 91 million YouTube views and jumps six slots, from Number 23 to Number 17, on BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart? “No Type” has more than outpaced the group’s decent-sized 2014 hit “No Flex Zone.”