WINNER OF THE WEEK: Justin Bieber. I knew the Biebs would be back! After sales were (relatively) low for his Believe album last year, he didn’t receive any Grammy nominations, his singles stalled on the charts, One Direction was undercutting him among tweens and he wore those ridiculous overalls upon meeting Canada’s prime minister, he made a smart comeback move. Believe Acoustic, including yearning versions of standbys such as “Boyfriend” and “As Long As You Love Me” and three new tracks, was perfectly timed for a dead sales month in which consumers have such little new music to buy that they’re still flocking to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack. Believe Acoustic sold 211,000 copies, becoming Bieber’s fifth Number One album, and was especially dominant online – 75 percent of its sales were by download, and 25 percent by iTunes pre-orders.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Anybody other than Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child. After her eight-song, girl-power, haters-be-damned Super Bowl halftime performance last weekend, it seems like Beyoncé may finally be achieving her potential as an all-consuming pop star. Not that she didn’t act like it before – it’s just that her solo sales have never been as robust as those of upstarts such as Lady Gaga or Adele. But post-Super Bowl, her digital-album sales reportedly increased more than 230 percent and digital songs 85 percent. (Destiny’s Child had even greater online boosts, but that’s only because nobody was buying Destiny’s Child music the week before the Super Bowl.) Beyonce’s official sales numbers won’t kick in on the charts until next week, when competitors may as well give it up.
THE RETURN OF BRUNO: I’ve been waiting for Bruno Mars to make his move on the charts since Unorthodox Jukebox came out late last year. Although his Police-like single “Locked Out of Heaven” appears to be in freefall, dropping 17 percent in sales this week, from Number Seven to Number Eight on the Digital Songs chart, he finally released the antidote – “When I Was Your Man.” The weepy soul-man ballad arrived at the right time, selling 105,000 copies, a rise of 87 percent, and jumping from Number 28 to Number Seven while boosting its Top 40 airplay and surging on BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria. The single’s success appears to have boosted Unorthodox Jukebox, too, which sold 37,000 copies and rose two spots to Number Six.
Last week: Lumineers Jump Up in Dead-Slow Week