If Lady Gaga's 'ARTPOP' Debuts at No. 1, Is It Still a Flop?

Also: Do we hate the Beatles or just paying for awesome music?

Lady Gaga ARTPOP Beatles Now Billboard Chart
Clerk to Gaga: "You're going to pay for those, right?" Photo by Getty Images
Chris Martins WRITTEN BY
Chris Martins

First! All lamely hail ARTFLOP — er, ARTPOP. To be fair, selling 258,000 copies of an album in 2013, as Lady Gaga did according to Billboard, is no small feat. Only 5.4 million units were moved this past week across the board. And when Eminem sold 792K last week to land at No. 1, his total for The Marshall Mathers LP 2 was greater than the sum of Nos. 2 through 32. All that said, 2011 wasn't all that long ago, and that's when Mother Monster released Born This Way, debuting with a hearty 1.1 million, the result of a 99-cent album fire sale. This whopping drop-off occurs despite mock-sexin' with R. Kelly on Saturday Night Live, throwing that multimillion-dollar "ArtRave," balling while singing at the YouTube Music Awards, and copping to a Snoop Dogg-worthy weed habit. As far as "Dope" goes ... you are what you smoke?

Further reading: SPIN's 'ARTPOP' Issue with Gaga, M.I.A. Basquiat, DONDA, Yoko, and more.

2 to 10: Further illustrating the point, Eminem slides to No. 2 this week with a 73% sales dip, which still gives him 210K to play with. After that, the cultural death knell that is Now 48 arrives at No. 3, doing 114K — the series' biggest haul since Now 41. There are a couple of other new arrivals of note. The excellent six-disc Beatles set On Air: Live at the BBC, Volume 2 lands at No. 7 with 37K. The prequel arrived all the way back in 1994 and did 360K in its first week. We're not sure which scenario is worse: that the power-of-10 decrease is due to a flagging industry, or waning interest in one of the greatest creative forces in music history. We are, however, happy for Solange and Drake associate Jhené Aiko, whose Sail Out EP debuts at No. 8 (34K). The rest: Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas is in at No. 4 (66K); Katy Perry's Prism slips a slot to No. 5 (46K); newly impregnated Kelly Clarkson's holiday set Wrapped in Red stays put at No. 6; Drake's Nothing Was the Same nabbed No. 9 (33K); and the kid Lorde's Pure Heroine stays in the picture at No. 10 (32K).

Mathers? Nah, Mathis: Kelly Clarkson and the cast of Duck Dynasty aren't the only one feeling the holiday spirit. Easy-listening icon Johnny Mathis just scored his 50th adult contemporary hit at the age of 78 with "Sending You a Little Christmas," a duet with spring chicken Jim Brickman, 52, that debuts on the chart at No. 27 just above a "Run Run Rudolph" rendition and Mary J. Blige's "This Christmas." Mathis is the sixth artist to ever reach this mark, and he's in iconic company: Elton John, Barabara Streisand, Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley, and Barry Manilow. Stuff your stocking. Or something:

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