WINNER OF THE WEEK: As natives of Detroit who still lionize the Lions, we were amused by the Nickelback-halftime-performance controversy on Thanksgiving Day. Some opponents of Nickelback's appearance tried to spin it as "a Canadian band shouldn't get to perform in Detroit given so many great available local musicians!" but we preferred to interpret it as "everybody thinks Nickelback sucks!" Well, said Canadian band gets revenge this week, with Here and Now at 227,000 copies and making its debut at Number Two on the pop charts, beating out Rihanna's Talk That Talk and selling only 4,000 fewer than Michael Buble's Number One Christmas. Will Here and Now stick to the charts in the future? It's possible. Although rock bands from Cake to the Strokes have been jumping into the top 10 all year, only to plummet the following week, Nickelback's "When We Stand Together" video has racked up almost 39 million YouTube views since its launch just a week ago – an encouraging (for them) sign of longevity.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Our 9-year-old daughter, a devout Taylor Swift fanatic, will kill us for this, but Swift deserves placement here because of her precipitous decline down the most recent Ultimate Chart, which measures both old-school radio and sales as well as new-school YouTube views and Facebook likes. It would seem that her spike from the American Music Awards abruptly came to an end – "If This Was a Movie" and "Ours" shot to Numbers Three and Six, respectively, then dropped 19 and 18 slots the subsequent week. And it wasn't just Swift; AMA compatriots the Band Perry ("If I Die Young") and Justin Bieber ("Mistletoe") declined steeply as well. (We're tempted to blame the Biebs' problems on the paternity-suit shenanigans plaguing his career, but as you know, all publicity is good publicity.) (Except in the case of Michael Jackson.)
AND A NOTE ON THE RECORD INDUSTRY: We'd like to drip a thimble of cold water onto the story that sales are up this year for the first time since 2004. The story is technically true: Albums sales have increased from 247 million to 255 million, or 3 percent, and when you throw in "track-equivalent albums," which represents bundles of 10 digital tracks, the increase jumps to 5.3 percent, according to Soundscan. Much of this success, as usual, has to do with blockbuster hits, like Adele's 4.3 million-plus-selling 21, at Number Seven this week ("Someone Like You" hangs onto Number Six on the iTunes songs chart). But much of the bump has to do with deep discounts – and we're not just talking about the $1.99 Amazon sale that helped Lady Gaga's Born This Way reach 1 million in its first week. "When you're selling $5 discs at Walmart and Best Buy, music revenue is actually down," says a major-label source. "I'm very troubled by that." (Billboard recently announced that albums sold for less than $3.49 will not be included on their charts.) So, recovery? Maybe not.
LAST WEEK: Drake Comes Out Swinging