WINNER OF THE WEEK: Justin Timberlake. Of course. The 20/20 Experience sold 968,000 copies in its debut week, the most since Taylor Swift’s Red did 1.2 million last October. Swift may be a hotter pop star in the long run, but Timberlake’s publicity blitz of the last few months was more interesting – it centered on his personality, even more than his songs. Seems like we’ve been hearing about the first single “Suit & Tie” forever, from his surprise Twitter release to Super Bowl Weekend to the Grammy Awards to the commercials to Saturday Night Live to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Also smart: streaming The 20/20 Experience on iTunes (it was the top retailer for the album) and releasing an exclusive with a couple of bonus tracks through Target (the second-biggest retailer for the album). Can 20/20 sustain its sales? All depends on future singles – while “Suit & Tie” holds in the Top Five, “Mirrors” jumped 71 spots to Number 17 on the latest Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria, mostly thanks to radio play.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: American Idol. Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj may have individual star power, and Mariah and the Minaj are crazy enough, but ratings for the once-dominant talent show, now in its 12th year, are down 20 percent from the beginning of the season, crushed by Person of Interest and NCIS. NBC’s The Voice, however, seems to have weathered its own personnel changes, integrating new pop-star judges Usher and Shakira well enough that ratings are higher than they were in the fall – and the show may beat Idol in the ratings this week. Why is The Voice so stable compared to Idol? Two reasons: Adam Levine and Simon Cowell. Even the biggest pop stars have never made up for the departure of American Idol‘s most trusted/reviled star, while The Voice, in hanging onto Levine, can pretty much hire whoever it wants.
SINGLE WORTH WATCHING OF THE WEEK: Icona Pop’s “I Love It” came out last May, but it’s taking off to the extent that the world suddenly knows what this Swedish duo looks like. (Caroline Hjelt is the one with red hair; Aino Jawo kind of resembles Iman.) The group has spent the past month carrying its apathetic-yet-happy hit, which has the feel of new-wave Madonna, to SXSW earlier this month, Miami’s Ultra Music Festival last weekend and Dancing With the Stars last night (in tight white dresses, with dancers in black and neon). It has been steadily climbing on the Ultimate Chart, most recently surging 30 slots to Number 29, and TV ads are sure to follow.
Last week: David Bowie and Bon Jovi Debut Strong