Friday, March 23, 2012

The Week In Music: Meet History-Making U.K. Boy Band One Direction

So sorry, Boss. After a single week atop the Billboard 200 albums chart with Wrecking Ball, spanking new U.K. boy band One Direction supplants Bruce Springsteen at No. 1 by achieving the seeming impossible: The vocal quintet makes history as the first U.K. group ever to bow at the summit with a debut album. Its Up All Night sold 176,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

While most grown-ups are likely saying, “Who?” SYCO/Columbia has engineered a marketing blitz to saturate the group with its intended tween and teen audience. The pretty boys have appeared at numerous album-signing events in shopping malls over the past month, and attracted 10,000 screaming fans for an NBC Today appearance March 12, its first live TV performance in America.

One Direction also recently wrapped a 10-date stateside tour, opening for Big Time Rush. They are scheduled to appear April 7 on Saturday Night Live. One Direction mania will maintain center stage into the summer. Wednesday it was announced they will headline a first-ever North American Tour, starting May 24 in arenas and large theaters in New York, Toronto, L.A. and points in between.

Formed on the 2010 U.K. version of X Factor (which also spawned No. 1 album artist Leona Lewis in the States), One Direction comprises Brits Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson, and Irishman Niall Horan—four of whom are still in their teens. The act has scored three top three U.K. singles and its debut album hit No. 2 last November. Meanwhile, in the U.S., debut single “What Makes You Beautiful,” is No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Their album is also No. 1 on the Digital Albums tally.

Elsewhere on the Billboard 200’s top 10, Adele holds tight at No. 2—her 16th week in the runner-up position, alongside 23 No. 1 weeks; Guns N' Roses catapults from No. 31 to No. 3 with its 2004 collective Greatest Hits (after being priced at 25 cents at Google Play and AmazonMP3 one day last week); while last week’s No. 1, Wrecking Ball from Springsteen dissipates to No. 4, with a whopping 71% decline in sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The set has spawned no hit singles on the Hot Digital chart. Whoops.

Passion’s White Flag live set debuts at No. 5 and also launches at No. 1 on Top Christian Albums; Whitney Houston's The Greatest Hits holds at No. 6; as does Drake's Take Care at No. 7; while the Now 41 compilation falls 5 to No. 8; Gotye's Making Mirrors climbs 16-9; and fun.'s Some Nights, returns to the top 10, up from No. 13, despite a 2% decline in sales. Their single “We Are Young,” featuring Janelle Monae, spends a third week atop the Billboard Hot 100.

Next week: The appetite for Hunger Games mania is likely to gobble up the top spot for its soundtrack on the Billboard 200 album chart. It includes new tracks from Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, The Decemberists, Maroon 5, Kid Cudi and Arcade Fire.

Also debuting is the first album for Esperanza Spalding since she unexpectedly won the Best New Artist Grammy in 2011. The fringe artist’s new Radio Music Society jazz-pop-funk-soul template is allegedly gunning to take the artist more mainstream. Evidence: The first single is called “Radio Song.”

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