First! Katy Perry’s Prism starts on the throne, which is fitting, since SPIN’s own Rob Harvilla writes that the pop star’s fourth album “mostly serves to forecast the milquetoast AOR queen that she, one day very soon, will stoop to aspire to become.” So, yeah, it’s not a great album, but it’s pretty much the only thing keeping the record industry afloat this week (more on that to come), moving 286,000 units according to Billboard and nabbing Perry her best sales week to date.
2 to 10: Last week’s winner dips to No. 2 — Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt, down 72 percent in sales with a so-so 46K. Drake’s Nothing Was the Same does 44K, which derails the album from its one-slot-per-week slide by bumping it up a notch to No. 3. Miley Cyrus’ perfectly American horror show (a.k.a. Bangerz) slips to No. 3 (43K), while Lorde’s less-than-great Pure Heroine ascends to No. 5 (40K). Next up are two new arrivals. A vocal quintet hailing from The X Factor — Fifth Harmony, as if you cared — hits No. 6 with Better Together (just stop) selling 28K. And Maybach Music-maker DJ Khaled snags his fifth top 10 set with Suffering From Success. Thankfully, lest the dude really experience some pain, it only starts at No. 7 (27K). Oddly, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2) climbs back in out of the cold, from No. 11 up to No. 8, even though it dipped 28 percent (26K). Chaotic goth opera-tists AFI return with Burials, bowing at No. 9 (25K), and Luke Bryan returns to Crash [Our] Party at No. 10 (25K).
Hooked: Pure Heroine may be a (slightly) tougher sell, but Lorde’s leads single “Royals” is still the one to beat. The bling-bashing track recently (ironically?) covered by Rick Ross notches a fifth week on top of the Hot 100, leading an all-lady trio rounded out by Perry’s “Roar” and Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” It’s now been seven weeks without another artist challenging that triumphant triumvirate.
Chawty Got Low: This has been nothing less (more?) than the worst music sales week in the entire SoundScan era, which began in 1991. Perry’s Prism did well, but the thing outsold Nos. 2 through 9 combined. Album sales are down 28 percent versus the comparable sales week in 2012, and digital track sales dip 6 percent. Overall album sales for the year total 223.4 million — that’s 7 percent less than last year at this time.