WINNER OF THE WEEK: Vampire Weekend. It's hard to believe an indie-rock band with such a nuanced sound has scored its second Number One album in a row – Contra sold 124,000 copies during its first week in 2010, and the new Modern Vampires of the City trumps that with 134,000. These are hardly Nirvana-in-1992 numbers, and it's almost certain the album will drop steeply next week, but the chart showing is enough to keep Vampire Weekend's brand alive, likely boosting TV appearances and future ticket sales. In a departure from the Mumford & Sons strategy, which used Spotify to build buzz and rack up first-week sales last fall, Vampire Weekend is stonewalling the free streaming-music service. (As is Daft Punk with Random Access Memories, although the electronic-dance duo's album has been streaming free on iTunes for the past week.)
LOSER OF THE WEEK: The Great Gatsby. At least, on the Billboard chart. The movie soundtrack starring Jay-Z and Beyoncé dropped from number two to number four overall, selling 30 percent fewer copies than last week, a total of 95,000. Interestingly, it remains at Number One on iTunes' album chart, fending off the Vampire Weekend album as well as Demi Lovato's Demi (which sold 110,000 in its debut week). Why the disparity? The only theory I can come up with has to do with Spotify, which is streaming only the least sexy bits of the "Gatsby" album (i.e., not the Jay-Z or Beyoncé songs). Perhaps this is leading frustrated hip-hop and R&B fans to raid the iTunes store.
WHAT DOES RHYME WITH "HUG ME"?: Robin Thicke's sleek and sexy "Blurred Lines" is about to make a hostile takeover of Billboard's Digital Songs chart, bumping up against Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Can't Hold Us," but perhaps not for long. The song's sales jumped 204 percent, rising from number 23 to number two; its 206,000 sales are 25,000 copies behind "Can't Hold Us." See what a little viral gratuitous-nudity can do for a song? It's about that time of year when an omnipresent summer single begins to emerge – and "Blurred Lines" is as good as candidate as any.
Last week: 'Gatsby' Soundtrack Living the High Life