With Black Friday upon us this week, the blockbusters have finally kicked in — will Taylor Swift and One Direction make a dent in the numbers? Album sales ticked down another notch this week to down 12 percent year-over-year (as opposed to last week, when they were down 13 percent). Track sales, however, remain stuck, down 13 percent from the previous year.
COULD ONE DIRECTION FINALLY MEAN “DOWN”?: After three weeks of Swift dominance, One Direction’s Four hits Number One with 387,000 sales, making it the year’s second-biggest debut. But buried within this happy holiday news is a darker trend. The previous One Direction album, last year’s Midnight Memories, sold 546,000,copies and Billboard‘s retail experts had predicted a debut week total of 420,000. Maybe One Direction is preparing to pass the boy-band baton to 5 Seconds of Summer — conspicuously, 1D has zero singles on the Digital Songs chart or iTunes’ Top Songs.
WHY IS “JULIO, GET THE STRETCH!” NOT A RINGTONE ALREADY?: Rather than concentrating on the depressing return of post-grunge to the album charts (Nickelback‘s No Fixed Address sold 80,000 copies and made its debut at Number Four), I’d like to direct your attention to the welcome return of Seventies-style funk to the singles charts. “Uptown Funk,” in which bandleader Mark Ronson and pop star Bruno Mars channel Kool and the Gang and Tower of Power, jumps from Number 18 to Number Three on the Digital Songs chart, selling 111,000 copies (an increase of 107 percent). Somebody timed this surge perfectly — the video posted on Vevo last week, days before Mars and Ronson performed it on “Saturday Night Live.” It has nearly 6 million views.
TAYLOR SWIFT WATCH: “What’s with the slew of Taylor Swift articles lately?” asks a friend. Well, in addition to being 2014’s biggest pop star by far, she makes irresistible moves for us music-business reporters, pulling her catalog from Spotify and declaring repeatedly that music shouldn’t be free. Would free Spotify streaming have cannibalized her album sales? It’s hard to say. The album has sold more than 2.21 million copies so far, making it the year’s biggest-selling album, although last year’s Frozen soundtrack has sold 3.27 million in 2014. But Swift may want to think about recharging 1989 with a splashy Spotify return; the album loses 32 percent in sales and drops to Number Two.