WINNER OF THE WEEK: Lionel Richie. What’s not to love about this formula? Beloved pop icon records an album of his best-known hits – only this time he sings them with a twang, hiring Nashville’s biggest stars for duets. And it doesn’t seem forced at all, since, really, there wasn’t a huge aesthetic difference between Kenny Rogers’ Seventies easy-listening lite-country hits and Richie’s Eighties easy-listening lite-funk hits. Anyway, Tuskegee sold 129,000 copies in its third week, enough for Number One, beating out Adele’s 21, which had 92,000 sales, a drop of 40 percent. Will Tuskegee hold on the charts for a year like 21? Unlikely. Richie has no hit singles on the charts at the moment, so he’s an album phenomenon, and those tend to drop quickly, especially with older artists like Bruce Springsteen and Madonna. But a huge tour wouldn’t surprise us – especially if he plays “Dancing on the Ceiling” with a fleet of banjos, just like the record.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: LMFAO. Remember those guys with the Sideshow Bob hair who got to hang around with Madonna during her Super Bowl performance? The ones who party-rocked all over the radio throughout 2011? Done! “Party Rock Anthem” dropped 11 spots on the latest Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria, to Number 38, and from Number 32 to Number 37 on Billboard’s Hot 100. “Sexy and I Know It” had a less precipitous decline on the Ultimate Chart, just one spot, to Number 22, but it went from Number 25 to Number 28 on Billboard’s Hot 100. And there appears to finally be no new sound-alike single to replace it. But the boys shouldn’t feel bad – “Anthem” is still huge in sports stadiums. “It’s one of those songs that every game I go to, it’s used as a T-shirt toss or pump-up [song],” Lee Merritts, the San Francisco Giants’ music director, told us recently. “That’s one that’s going to stay for a long time.”
BOY BAND HEGEMONY: One Direction appears to be winning the boy band war, solidifying its position at Number Five on Billboard’s album chart long after rival the Wanted has dropped out of the Top 10. Perhaps more important than the band’s 66,000 sales this week of Up All Night, “What Makes You Beautiful” is ensconced at Number Three on iTunes’ singles chart and Number Four on the Ultimate Chart. That indicates One Direction might last a while, at least for this album cycle, no matter how much parents of tween girls pray for the screaming to stop.