WINNER OF THE WEEK: Discounts. The one-week surge of Mumford & Sons’ Babel is continuing evidence that reasonable prices on newish titles spark serious sale: a $6.99 iTunes promotion last week pushed the album to 91,000 sales, an increase of 34 percent. It hit Number Two, when it hadn’t been in the Top 10 for weeks. (Number One was the Les Misérables soundtrack, which barely overcame the Mumford competition, selling 92,000.) Also surging due to iTunes sales in the super-soft second week after Christmas: Phillip Phillips’ The World from the Side of the Moon (63,000, jumped from Number 11 to Number Four); Alicia Keys’ Girl On Fire (44,000, from Number 18 to Number 9); and Pink’s The Truth About Love (41,000, from Number 14 to Number 10).
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Holiday hits. I’m not just talking about those brief smash albums by Rod Stewart and Michael Buble, which are, mercifully, unlikely ever to glimpse the Top 10 again. Many big albums throughout late December dropped this week – including, for the first significant time, Taylor Swift’s Red, which lost 72 percent of its last-week sales and dropped from Number One to Number Three, with just 69,000. (Last week, Red received an iTunes boost thanks to a $1.99 sale. Will it drop further, or will it sustain throughout 2013 like Adele’s 21? My money is on the latter – Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” single remains at Number One on the latest Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria. Plus, the album is packed with sure hits, and her people know how to time and market them.) Also dropping this week: One Direction’s Take Me Home (61,000, down 49 percent, from Number Three to Number Five) and Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox (55,000, down 50 percent, from Number Four to Number Six).
PSY’S NEXT MOVE: As we all learned from Spike Lee’s recent documentary about Michael Jackson’s Bad, it’s crushingly difficult to follow up one of the most popular recorded works of all time. And Psy has been marketing “Gangnam Style” like a maniac since last summer, pushing it to more than 1.1 billion views and a YouTube record. So what can he possibly do next? I was about to write that he was pushing a follow-up, “What Would Have Been?,” which hit Number 19 on the Ultimate Chart, but now I’m confused. The most dominant YouTube video (18,000-plus views) of the new song is actually not Psy at all but a version of Shaggy’s “Boombastic.” And there is no mention whatsoever of this Psy song on the Korean singer’s official Facebook page. And the primary Psy news of the week is his upcoming appearance in a Super Bowl commercial for pistachios. So what is Psy’s real next single? “It’s not done yet,” he tells an interviewer.