We took a few weeks off from recapping the Billboard charts, as the Top 40 singles were in a state of stasis, merely shuffling deck chairs. But at last there’s some action, including last week’s crowning of a new No. 1. So on we go:
- “Diamond” Life. It’s an even dozen for Rihanna: the Barbadian pop princess has achieved her 12th chart topper with “Diamonds,” the lead single from her new album Unapologetic, which has some good news of its own. (See below.) Clearly, critics who wondered aloud about the song’s lyrical minimalism don’t know what they’re talking about. “Diamonds” is now in its second week at the pinnacle, with Ke$ha’s “Die Young” breathing anxiously down its neck. Ke$ha, for her part, has had quite the impressive start to her chart career; she’s yet to miss the Top 10 as a lead performer. Guess rehabbing endangered lions is good for the karma, or something.
- Speaking of Diamonds … Another member of pop’s reigning royalty has diamond-related news of her own. Adele’s monster 21 album has now exceeded 10 million in sales, according to the RIAA, giving it rare “diamond” status – the next echelon beyond gold (500,000 units sold) and platinum (1 million). As Billboard notes it’s only the 21st album since the 1991 debut of SoundScan sales measurement to reach that sales certification. (And the first since Usher’s 2004 Confessions set.) In an increasingly singles-dominated era, this may well be the last diamond-certified album we’ll ever see.
- Psy Close, Yet So Far Away. While “Gangnam Style” is now the most-viewed YouTube clip of all time, it wasn’t able to make it all the way to the top of the Hot 100. It’s now on its way down after seven weeks in the No. 2 position, joining such huge near misses as Missy Elliott’s “Work It” and Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl like You” (each of which spent 10 weeks in the runner-up slot). Foreigner eventually garnered a No. 1 of its own, and Missy at least had “Lady Marmalade” to hang a crown on; can Psy someday return to the upper echelon? We and all of Seoul certainly hope so.
- If It’s November, It Must Be Rihanna. For the fourth consecutive year, Rihanna released a new album in November. The difference this time: she finally has her first No. 1 in that realm. Unapologetic moved 238,000 units to end her unfortunate and surprising streak. (Her previous discs had peaked at Nos. 10, 5, 2, 4, 3 and 3.) Also debuting in the Top 10 this week are this interestingly diverse slate of artists: Phillip Phillips (The World from the Side of the Moon, No. 4), Kid Rock (Rebel Soul, No. 5), Led Zeppelin (Celebration Day, No. 9) and Keyshia Cole (Woman to Woman, No. 10).
- It’s a Woman’s World. Ri-Ri, Ke$ha and Adele aren’t the only ladies having great success this week. Taylor Swift matches the record for longest stay at the top of the Country chart for a female singer, as “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” lodges its eighth frame there. Pink surges from 50 to 18 on the Hot 100 with her latest single, “Try.” Voice competitor Cassadee Pope storms onto that chart all the way at No. 25 with her rendition of Miranda Lambert’s “Over You.” And lastly, Cher has issued a new single, her first release in a decade apart from her Burlesque work. “A Woman’s World” may be lyrically banal and about as tuneful as that parrot that sang Drowning Pool’s “Bodies,” but we’re glad to have her back all the same.
Got questions about the charts, past and present? E-mail me at Joseph_McCombs@timemagazine.com