Bear with me: I’m trying to mention Taylor Swift in every paragraph. Here goes: Album sales are still down 14 percent and track sales are down 13 percent, but next week, the record industry will see if 1989 can make a dent in these depressing numbers. More Swifty details below!
1989 WATCH: Billboard has upgraded its first-week Swift sales prediction from 750,000 to 1 million. If true, Taylor’s new 1989 would be the only 2014 release to go platinum. (Frozen hit the million-selling mark three times, but it came out in late 2013.) Could 1989 be a lesser Thriller, which sold so many copies that it rescued the record industry from its post-disco recession? Unlikely. Thirty years ago, major record labels were not navigating a downward spiral from selling expensive CDs to selling not-so-expensive iTunes downloads to selling $10 Spotify subscriptions. But 1989 could help.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT COLDPLAY, SLIPKNOT: Yes, Slipknot, the venerable metal band with the masks and the cookie-monster vocals, has hit Number One, selling 132,000 copies of its new album, .5: The Gray Chapter. But no, as one e-mail from the band’s label Roadrunner Records said, that does not make it “the highest debut for a rock record this year.” Perhaps the people who bring us Slipknot, Opeth, Stone Sour and Killswitch Engage do not consider Coldplay‘s Ghost Stories “a rock record”? Because it sold 383,000 copies in its first week in late May, hitting Number One at the time — still the year’s biggest first-week sales, although Swift’s 1989 is likely to smash that meager accomplishment next week.
SLEEPER OF . . . THE PREVIOUS WEEK: It’s too late to label Hozier‘s spooky, sin-obsessed “Take Me to Church” as “sleeper of the week” — the song has already jumped from Number 13 to Number Two on Billboard‘s digital-songs chart, a 107 percent sales increase, to 132,000. Why the surge? It’s in a new Beats by Dre TV ad with LeBron James, just as the NBA season begins, among other things. Will it stick around the top of the charts? My guess is no. Because you-know-who is on the way, even if her latest “Welcome to New York” made its debut at just Number Five, selling 84,000 copies.