Billboard Chart Decoded: Mumford and Sons Triumph

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Welcome to our latest recap of what’s happening on the charts from Billboard, the music industry’s longtime standard bearer in measuring airplay and sales of singles and albums. This week finds some major new action on the album charts, but only one new entry in the Top 10 singles. On we go:

  • I Got Maroon 5 on It. Be patient, waegukin! Psy may yet have his day in the sun here. But today is not that day. In a close race, Maroon 5 staves off the rush of “Gangnam Style” with enough sustained airplay and sales to keep “One More Night” at No. 1 for another week. It’s the band’s third straight Top 2 hit following a fallow period in which the singles from their previous album, Hands All Over, largely underperformed: lead single “Misery” made it only to No. 14 in 2010 and follow-up singles “Give a Little More” and “Never Gonna Leave This Bed” missed the Top 40 altogether.

(MOREPsy Talks ‘Gangnam Style’ and Newfound Fame)

  • Another Swift Rise. That sole new Top 10 entry this week? Surprise, surprise, it belongs to Taylor Swift. Her “Begin Again” storms onto the Hot 100 all the way up at No. 7, giving the youthful yet prolific singer-songwriter her 10th Top 10 hit, all coming in the past four years. (Spoiler: It’s a song about an ex-boyfriend who didn’t appreciate her. Clearly there’s still somehow plenty of territory for her to mine there.) Meanwhile, fellow Red single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” hangs in strong, holding at No. 4, and we can anticipate a high debut from Red’s title track next week.
  • Who Runs the World? Two other young ladies who have dominated the pop charts in recent years add to their hit collections this week in impressive ways. Ke$ha rockets in at No. 13 with “Die Young,” the lead single from her forthcoming disc Warrior, while Rihanna, the girl gone every which way but good, enters a few notches below at No. 16 with “Diamonds” — her 30th visit to the Top 20, counting guest appearances, if you can believe it.
  • The Word Is Mumford. But this week really belongs to a male folk-rock quartet from England. In the first week of sales for their sophomore album Babel, Mumford and Sons push a remarkable 600,000-plus units (plus a reported 8 million streams on Spotify), easily the best debut week of 2012. (Adele has the best week of 2012 overall, moving more than 700,000 copies of 21 the week after the Grammys.) For perspective, until now, only Justin Bieber and Madonna had sold 300,000 albums in their opening weeks. And the lads are impacting the singles chart as well: joining advance-released single “I Will Wait” on the Hot 100 this week are Babel’s title track (No. 60), “Lover’s Eyes” (85), “Whispers in the Dark” (86), “Holland Road” (92) and “Ghosts That We Knew” (94). An impressive week, and it’s hardly a surprise that bands are now imitating their sound to make a dent. (Hi, Lumineers!)
  • “Body” Hits the Floor. Christina Aguilera has encountered a bump in the road with “Your Body,” which we touted here last week as a potential big mover. It did so — but in the wrong direction: “Body” tumbles from its No. 34 debut position to No. 64, the song and video having gotten uneven reactions at best.
  • Liner Notes. Also entering this week’s album chart near the top are Green Day (whose Uno comes in at Numero Dos), No Doubt (Push and Shove, No. 3) and Lupe Fiasco (Food & Liquor II, No. 5). Further down the list we have Mumford and Sons’ debut album, Sigh No More, which on the heels of Babel’s arrival rebounds 29-12 in its 132nd chart week—and second-week collapses from Carly Rae Jepsen (whose Kiss tanks from 6 to 20), Grizzly Bear (Shields, 7 to 32) and Ben Folds Five (despite unceasing YouTube ads, The Sound of the Life of the Mind tumbles to No. 60 from its No. 10 entry point last week). Finally, at No. 152, the late Andy Williams makes his first appearance on the survey in years with the anthology 16 Most Requested Songs. His happy heart won’t soon be forgotten.

(MORE: TIME’s Salute to Andy Williams)

Got questions about the charts, past and present? E-mail me at Joseph_McCombs@timemagazine.com

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