WINNER OF THE WEEK: One Direction. Officially taking the boy-band baton from Jonas Brothers, Backstreet Boys, 'NSYNC, New Kids on the Block and Bay City Rollers, One Direction's Take Me Home sold 540,000 copies, the third-highest first-week sales of 2012 after Taylor Swift's 1.2 million and Mumford & Sons' 600,000. I also wonder if 1D is seizing the shrieking-tween market from Justin Bieber, whose Believe sold 347,000 copies in its first week and has just one single in the latest Top 20. Earlier this week at the American Music Awards, the Biebs said: "This is for all the haters who thought maybe I was just here for one or two years." Was this his way of saying, "Mission accomplished"?
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Christina Aguilera. Number Seven isn't bad in a vacuum, but Xtina has not only a history of smash pop albums but an enviable marketing platform in NBC's The Voice, which has revived Adam Levine's Maroon 5 on the charts. Aguilera's Lotus sold just 73,000 debut-week copies, 37,000 fewer than her last major album, 2010's Bionic, a dud released in the pre-Voice era that led to a canceled-summer-tour debacle. Also, singles sell albums, and while Maroon 5's "One More Night" is at Number Two on the digital-songs chart (losing Number One this week to Rihanna's "Diamonds"), nothing from Lotus is even close to the Top 50 on either the Billboard Hot 100 or the Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria. Although it must be noted that her first single, "Your Body," has logged 28 million YouTube views since its September release.
MERRY BLACK FRIDAY, EVERYONE: We have reached the eye of the holiday shopping season, with several likely blockbusters dropping this week, timed for the all-important Black Friday: Rihanna's Unapologetic is perhaps the biggest, although the pop megastar has yet to prove she can sell albums in addition to singles, but Pitbull's Global Warming, Kid Rock's Rebel Soul (his first LP to get a simultaneous iTunes release) and Phillip Phillips' The World from the Side of the Moon are likely to have big weeks as well. Album sales are down four percent this year, but that seems skewed, given the dominance of Adele's 21 throughout 2011. This holiday season seems like a throwback to the old days of the record business, when labels competed to backload their biggest releases into the final three months.