WINNER OF THE WEEK: Psy. Yes, horse-dancing YouTube phenom Psy’s new song “Gentleman” is a copy of “Gangnam Style,” but the video is just as breezy and funny, with an elevator reappearance of the Man Dressed in Yellow and the immortal line “WET . . . PSY!” It grabbed 22 million YouTube views on its first day, last Saturday, and was up to more than 122 million by Wednesday, enough for an embedded Tom Cruise movie ad. It’s smart timing, just as the post-“Gangnam Style” backlash and the controversy about the Korean pop star’s long-ago anti-U.S. comments have died down. My only objection is the video’s misogyny-disguised-as-teasing – all the victims of his jokes are women and they’re all publicly humiliated, particularly the one who gets a whiff of what’s inside Psy’s pants at a library. His “comeuppance” in the form of a pulled chair is not nearly sufficient. But my guess is that nobody will care and “Gentleman” will remain a hit for months, although not as omnipresent as “Gangnam Style.”
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Digital track sales. Maybe. They’re down one percent so far this year. But is that a statistical blip, or does it mean iTunes, celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month, is finally giving up its dominant market share to subscription-and-streaming services from YouTube to Spotify to Rhapsody? Data released this week by the NPD Group suggest the former: 44 million Americans downloaded one or more paid songs or albums last year, 38 percent of survey participants say they believe in owning music and 41 percent of Pandora and other free streaming services say owning music is important to them. Just as free FM radio broadcasts prompted music fans to buy albums in the old days, free (or cheap) streaming services are prompting them to buy music they like via iTunes. Music-buying isn’t what it used to be, but it isn’t dead yet.
SOMEBODY PREPARE THE HATER-VS.-BUYER CHART: Whenever masses of people rise up to declare they hate a song, as was the case a week or so ago with the Brad Paisley-LL Cool J collaboration “Accidental Racist,” my instinct is to listen to it repeatedly. That country-and-rap duet is more strange than offensive, reflecting the awkwardness blacks and whites feel talking about race these days more than any sort of political stridency. The rest of Paisley’s album, Wheelhouse, is all over the place and great – check out the domestic-abuse-and-revenge story “Karate” co-starring arch-conservative Charlie Daniels. Anyway, Wheelhouse lands at Number Two this week, selling 100,000 copies, behind Paramore’s characteristically straightforward, self-titled pop-and-punk album, which hits Number One with 106,000 copies. It’s the band’s first Number One ever – 2009’s Brand New Eyes sold 175,000 but only hit Number Two.