It’s time again for our weekly recap on what’s happening in the charts from Billboard, the music industry’s longtime standard bearer in measuring airplay and sales of singles and albums. This week we have three new singles of note — and new chart methodologies of note as well. On we go:
- We’re Still Getting Adele. Reflecting the immediacy of digital single sales, this week three songs rocket into the Hot 100 all the way in the Top 10 — only the second time that has happened in Billboard’s 54 years of publishing charts. The surprising thing? Adele’s the lowest-ranked of the three. Her Bond theme “Skyfall” is her biggest debut to date, though it only comes in at No. 8. It could challenge “One Might Night” and “Gangnam Style” for the throne next week. But meanwhile, entering above her at No. 3 are the prepubescent lads of One Direction, who repurpose a Clash riff and some other overly familiar elements on “Live While We’re Young,” the first single from their sophomore album, Take Me Home. It’s no fun., but it’s already a bigger hit than their debut smash “What Makes You Beautiful.” The third of this week’s high debuts is, as anticipated, Taylor Swift, who swaps “Begin Again” (tumbling from 7 all the way to 52) for “Red.” Which is — wait for it — a song about an ex-boyfriend who didn’t appreciate her. Where does she come up with this stuff!
- Fourth-Quarter Offense. We’re about to see a flood of fresh material from megastars in the pop world, with new albums on the immediate horizon from Bruno Mars, Ke$ha, Rihanna and several others, plus a greatest-hits collection from Kelly Clarkson. Mars enters the chart at No. 34 with “Locked out of Heaven,” whose unexpected echoes of early Police songs have been noted by many already. Ke$ha’s “Die Young” (sadly, not an answer record to One Direction) hangs in at No. 14 on the basis of increased radio airplay, while Rihanna’a “Diamonds” slips from 16 to 18. All those songs should shoot upwards when their respective albums hit; indeed, “Diamonds” blasts from 66 to 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs slate.
- 2nd Law in 2nd Place. Over on the album side, Brit rockers Muse have their best debut yet with The 2nd Law. As if to prove to certain critics that rock is not dead, the album moved more than 100,000 units this past week — a healthy total, but not enough to dislodge Mumford and Sons, who keep Babel at the top with sales of almost 170,000. Another entry of note is Jackie Evancho’s Songs from the Silver Screen, entering at No. 7: it’s already the fifth charting album for the 12-year-old America’s Got Talent moppet. Evidence that somebody, thankfully, is living up to that show’s name.
- A Change Has Come. Billboard this week announced a revamping of its methodology for compiling the Country, R&B Hip-Hop and Latin Songs charts; they now incorporate digital download sales and streams along with radio airplay and physical-unit sales, for a more accurate assessment of what’s truly popular among fans of the genres. The change is immediately apparent on Country Songs, where Taylor Swift now holds the top two positions, knocking her own “Red” out of the top slot with a huge 21-1 rebound from former No. 1 “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” It will be interesting to see if the revised methodology ejects longtime genre stalwarts from their places at the table.
- Liner Notes. Doubly good news for Heart this week: the veteran rock outfit fronted by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson not only was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; it also sees a decent No. 24 debut on the album chart with Fanatic — not as impressive as 2010’s No. 10 debut with Red Velvet Car, but still evidence that the sisters are doing it for themselves, and doing it well. And he may be no Hall of Famer, but the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter known mononymously as Rodriguez gets a nice lift this week, as Searching for Sugar Man, the sound track from the movie that documents his improbable rediscovery, returns to the album list at No. 109, while his 1970 debut studio album Cold Fact makes its first ever chart appearance just beneath, at No. 113. The film’s worth checking out; the songs even more so.
Got questions about the charts, past and present? E-mail me at Joseph_McCombs@timemagazine.com