WINNER OF THE WEEK: Rick Ross. It’s all good news for the bearded Florida rapper and record mogul, whose God Forgives, I Don’t LP arrives at Number One and earns the MC his best-selling debut week ever – 218,000 copies, compared to 198,000 for Trilla four years ago. But we can’t help feeling the hip-hop veteran is just a few years behind his time, economically speaking. To compare him to another MC with godly album titles, DMX’s Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood debuted with 670,000 copies in 1998, and in 1999, his And Then There Was X set scored first-week sales of 698,000. Over a decade later, Ross’ LPs sell a less than a third of DMX’s, despite having cameos from the biggest stars in the business, including Jay-Z, Usher, Dr. Dre and Ne-Yo, and a monthlong $5 sale on Amazon. That’s the depressed record business for you.
It’s possible, though, that big sales for God Forgives are just getting started. Ross’ prolific, Lil Wayne-style approach of spewing out new singles to YouTube every few months – from “You the Boss” last October (6.1 million views) to “So Sophisticated” (3.4 million) and “Touch N’ You” (1.8 million) in June to “Hold Me Back” (1.6 million) last month – may ultimately pay off.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Rock music. Rarely have the genre’s sales been this depressing, with the exception of a few hyphenated acts – Denver’s folk-rock Lumineers hit Number Eight on iTunes, soul-rock singer Joss Stone’s The Soul Sessions, Vol. 2 just cracked Billboard’s Top 10 with 24,000 copies, and pop-rockers fun. continue to dominate both the singles and albums charts. Even Gotye’s sort-of-rocking “Somebody That I Used to Know” has finally vanished from the Top 10. What’s worse, on the Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria, the few rock bands that have made appearances in recent weeks are in rapid decline – No Doubt’s “Settle Down” dropped 39 spots to Number 52, and Linkin Park’s “Burn It Down” dropped 28 spots to Number 68. Why the rock malaise? It’s part of a larger trend – nobody’s buying rock albums anymore, rock radio stations aren’t nearly as powerful as they used to be, and therefore record labels aren’t signing as many potential rock stars. The pendulum could swing back, as it often does, but this sales downturn has been disturbingly lengthy.
OLYMPIC ‘IDOL’: Whoever thinks this year’s laidback American Idol winner Phillip Phillips is going the way of Justin Guarini hasn’t been watching the Olympics. Phillips’ single “Home” was the ubiquitous soundtrack for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team during the London Games, launching from Number 47 to Number One on Billboard’s digital-songs chart (it also hit Number One on iTunes long after dropping out of the Top 10). “Home” sold 228,000 digital copies overall, according to Billboard (Fox publicists report sales of 278,000 downloads), for a jump of 472 percent this week.