WINNER OF THE WEEK: Rock. Good old album-oriented rock took three of the four slots in Billboard’s Top 10, including Incubus’ If Not Now, When? (Number Two, 80,000 copies), Theory of a Deadman’s The Truth Is … (Number Eight, 38,000) and Sublime with Rome’s Yours Truly (Number Nine, 35,000). But this is a bit of a mirage. Rock bands, to they extent that they can still make money, do so through touring. These three bands will undoubtedly sell a few extra tickets given their new or resurgent chart success, but check out the digital charts this week. With the exception of OneRepublic’s “Good Life” (which is only sort of rock and is already dropping down Billboard’s digital sales chart after one good week), there’s almost no rock on BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart, which suggests low online buzz and little chance for sales staying power. In 2011, the story of rock on the charts is One Good Week, Then a Drop-Off. Radio companies are clearly noticing: The last remaining rock station in New York City, WRXP, flipped formats last week – to hot adult-contemporary.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Beyoncé. We feel bad saying it, because 4 makes us dance around the room, but after last week’s Number One, sales dropped 37 percent, to just 37,000 copies. Our instinct is to attribute this to the anemic nature of album sales in general these days – Beyoncé and Lady Gaga are two of the planet’s biggest pop stars, and their strong new pop albums sold disappointingly. But maybe we’re seeing a changing of the guard this year, what with the resilience of Adele and Mumford & Sons and the flightiness of pop fans, at least on the traditional charts. In both cases, unlike Beyoncé and Gaga, those artists had strong singles whose strength built over time online, dominating BigChampagne’s Ultimate Chart and especially YouTube. They didn’t leap onto the album charts thanks to a little radio play here and there or some kind of niche fan base. That said, Beyoncé could still surge – we hear hit singles all over 4, but would it kill her or Sony Music to venture into some kind of cutting-edge, Radiohead-style Internet giveaway campaign to expand her base? Relying on radio is so 1997.
ON THE OTHER HAND: Middle-of-the-road chauteuse Colbie Caillat is no stranger to Internet marketing campaigns – remember when she was the Out-of-Nowhere Queen of MySpace? But this week she seems to have pulled off a version of what we just advised Beyonce not to do: put out an album with no big Internet single (she’s not in the Ultimate Chart’s Top 100, which means she hasn’t taken off on YouTube or Facebook, and she has no single in iTunes’ Top 10). Yet she still scored itunes’ Number One album this week, All of You, dropping Blake Shelton’s Billboard Number One, Red River Blue, to Number Two. (Caillat hit just number Six on Billboard, with 70,000, while Shelton, the judge on NBC’s “The Voice,” sold 116,000.) This suggests to us that a lot of people are still buying Blake’s album the traditional way, while Caillat’s fan base is, perhaps given her online history, mostly on iTunes.
LAST WEEK: Beyoncé Holds On to Number One