THE YEAR OF TAYLOR: By any measure, Nicki Minaj is one of the world's biggest pop stars — her last album opened at Number One, "Anaconda" has nearly 345 million YouTube views, "Bang Bang" has more than 137 million Spotify streams and she was, not long ago, a TV star. And her latest album, the Pinkprint, isn't bad, but sold just 194,000 copies, or 244,000 "units" by Billboard's newfangled system including streaming and track-sales data. The Pinkprint's so-so numbers demonstrate Taylor Swift's dominance — after two months, 1989 moved another 375,000 units this week, with sales of more than 3.36 million total. She's Number One, and Minaj is Number Two.
NOTABLY, NO BLACK MESSIAH TRACKS ARE IN D'ANGELO'S SPOTIFY TOP TEN: The Twitter hype for D'Angelo's long-awaited (and completely awesome) Black Messiah, sadly, didn't translate into sales. Lacking anything close to a hit single, the surprise pre-Christmas release sold just 111,000 copies, or 117,000 units, giving it a debut of Number Five, behind Swift, Minaj, Pentatonix' That's Christmas to Me (which moved 214,000 units and dropped 2 percent) and J. Cole's 2014 Forest Hills Drive (135,000 units, a drop of 64 percent, which was predictable given how most mid-range hits performed in 2014).
ITUNES FLIP-FLOP: Usually, iTunes sales closely match the overall Billboard album charts — but this week, the dominant albums are not 1989 (Number Four) but the Pinkprint (Number One) and Black Messiah (Number Two). This may be due to the last-minute pre-Christmas shopping rush. D'Angelo's album was well-timed to grab buyers looking for hot, new stuff, while Swift's fans already own her album (of her 375,000 units this week, just 331,000 were actual album sales, or 88 percent, compared to D’Angelo’s 95 percent).