First! Bruno Mars had his best sales week ever, but the catbird seat still belongs to Taylor Swift, whose record-crushing Red notches its fifth (non-consecutive) week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. SPIN’s No. 39 album of 2012 sold 208,000 copies last week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Nipping at her heels is Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox, whose better-than-predicted sales of 192,000 easily beats the 61,000 units his debut Doo-Wops & Hooligans moved in its best week in early 2011. Per Billboard, the label sources who had expected sales more in the 140,000-to-150,000 range say the holiday shoppers out in droves over the weekend gave Mars a boost. So perhaps he should be thanking Santa Claus early this year.
2 to 10: With the question of Bruno settled, the only other new entry in the top 10 is Game’s Jesus Piece, which bows at No. 6 (86K) despite our congregation deeming it Worst New Music. At least the Compton rapper’s latest is interestingly mediocre, inspiring more words than we’ve been inclined to spend on Michael Buble’s Christmas (No. 3, 138K). Meanwhile, One Direction’s Take Me Home stays put at No. 4 (127K), but it sold enough to make the Brit boy band the only group to sell one million copies of two different LPs in 2012. Most of the rest of the sub-Buble Top 10 is, indubitably, sub-Buble, including Rod Stewart’s Merry Christmas Baby (No. 5, 108K), Phillip Phillips’ The World From the Side of the Moon (No. 7, 68K), and Blake Shelton’s Cheers, It’s Christmas (No. 8, 68K). Elsewhere, Alicia Keys’ solid Girl on Fire edges down two spots to No. 9 (61K), while Lady Antebellum’s On This Winter’s Night nabs No. 10 (60K). Do you know it’s Christmas?
Not Fucking Justin Bieber: Green Day, whose Billie Joe Armstrong’s pre-rehab non-Belieber-ing made SPIN’s 25 Most Outrategoues, Memorable, and Obnoxious Quotes of 2012, didn’t quite sell like the Bieb, either. The Bay Area rockers’ ¡Tré!, the last album in their recent triology, entered at No. 13 in its first week (58K). Also debuting this week is the Nashville TV soundtrack, at No. 145 (56K). As for Green Day going Nashville, just wait a few years. Maybe Rick Rubin can produce? Gravitas!
Another Seven Days of ‘Heaven’: Mars might’ve missed the top spot on the album chart, but he proved his Hot 100 victory last week for “Locked Out of Heaven” was no fluke. The song gained 12 percent in overall chart points, pulling out further ahead of the No. 2 song, Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” which had enjoyed a three-week run at the top before “Locked Out” busted in. Mars has had the No. 1 song four times, including guest spots, and now each of those has held on for more than one week. Only eight other male solo artists in the chart’s 54-year history have had their first four No. 1 songs maintain multi-week leads, paced by George Michael and Elvis Presley who each had their first six No. 1 songs hang on for multiple frames. Heaven, it seems, is a place near the King.