Week Ending Oct. 20, 2013. Albums: Justin’s Fast Fade
Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience is the best-selling album so far this year. It has been the front-runner to win the Grammy for Album of the Year virtually since the week it was released in March. But that doesn't mean the public was clamoring for a sequel—less than seven months after the album's release. The 20/20 Experience, 2 Of 2 spent just two weeks in the top 10 on The Billboard 200 before dropping out this week. (It falls from #5 to #11.) By contrast, the first album spent its first 14 weeks in the top 10 (and 18 weeks total).
The new album has a perception problem. Fans are savvy enough to know that the first album must have contained the strongest material from the 20/20 sessions. (That's especially true because it was Timberlake's first album in 6-1/2 years. It would have been foolhardy for him to return with anything but the strongest album he could muster.) So I'm sure a lot of people view this new album as a collection of leftovers; outtakes. It might as well have a sticker on it, "For Die-Hard Fans Only."
(It's a measure of Timberlake's tremendous popularity that he has enough die-hard fans that this album has sold 455K copies in three weeks.)
Some have suggested that Timberlake should have picked the best of the 2 of 2 songs for an Expanded Deluxe Edition of the first album. Or maybe even left them all in the vault and started from scratch on a follow-up album. The positive reaction to The 20/20 Experience—especially the proof that his fans had remained loyal through that long lay-off—must have been gratifying and energizing. As such, the new material would probably have been superior to these "leftover" tracks from the first sessions.
I have a little bit of good news for Timberlake: "Mirrors" tops the 3 million mark in digital sales this week. It's one of 10 songs to sell that many copies so far in 2013. As a lead artist, Timberlake has had just one bigger seller, "SexyBack" (featuring Timbaland), which has sold 4,340,000 copies.
It would have made a great chart comeback story: On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' arrival in the U.S., Paul McCartney lands his first #1 album as a solo artist in more than 30 years. (He was last in the top spot with 1982's Tug Of War.) But it wasn't to be. Instead, McCartney's New debuts at #3, behind Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt, which debuts at #1, and Miley Cyrus' Bangerz, which dips from #1 to #2 in its second week.
Lightning Bolt sold 84K digital copies, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums.