WINNER OF THE WEEK: The soundtrack on fire, The Hunger Games. The Billboard 200 chart is no stranger to dystopias, having been something of a barren wasteland itself in 2011 sales, but it is marking huge returns for the soundtrack of the most anticipated movie of the season. The theatrical adaptation to Suzanne Collins’ novel corralled Taylor Swift, the Arcade Fire, Miranda Lambert and other prominent artists for its soundtrack, which enters the charts this week at Number One. Swift’s “Eyes Open” also landed fourth on the singles chart.
The Hunger Games is only the sixteenth soundtrack ever to debut at the peak of the Billboard 200. (The last was Michael Jackon’s This Is It in November 2009.) The most recent multi-artist effort to reach a comparable showing was The Twilight Saga: New Moon in 2009, though its sonorous odes to bestiality/necrophilia actually entered Billboard at Number Two. If anyone’s surprised by Team Katniss’ victory this week, they must’ve had their eyes and ears shut tight: the film netted over $150 million in its opening weekend.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: One Direction, the British heartthrobs that could. Earlier this month, we posited that this could be a new golden age for boy bands, and that seemed vindicated last week when the U.K. singing sensations topped the charts with 176,000 sales of Up All Night. A bit inconceivably, the feat made them the first British group to ever reach Number One in the U.S. with a debut album. This week, however, One Direction took a precipitous 69 percent decline in sales, slipping to fourth with a tally of 55,000. What could account for this worrisome drop-off? We could shake our canes and pin it on the fickle nature of the group’s tweenage demographic (kids today, rabble rabble, etc.), but it’s probably more closely linked to that scamp Justin Bieber and the hype surrounding his newly released single, “Boyfriend.” At any rate, don’t discount One Direction just yet; their track “What Makes You Beautiful” gained one spot to number seven on the Ultimate Chart, which measures online trends, so their viral presence remains strong.
THE FUN. DON’T STOP: This week, “We Are Young” by Fun. featuring Janelle Monae became the best-selling song of the year, with a sixth week at Number One on the singles charts and 387,000 sold (up 11 percent from last week). They’ve moved 2.39 million copies/downloads of it to date and remain atop the Ultimate Chart this week, too – and the buzz means that their ubiquity as a band should outlast their current iTunes streak. Glee can take a lot of credit for this – they covered “We Are Young” in the past season – but its accountants must be frantic right now.