While satellite photos of the Apollo astronauts’ footsteps on the moon have been in the news, providing a sad reminder of the diminishment of the American space program, MTV’s “moon men” have proven to still be very relevant.
The highest-rated MTV Video Music Awards ever translated into a sales bonanza for some of the show's performers in the days that followed -- especially Lil Wayne, whose “Tha Carter IV” went on sale online less than an hour after the telecast’s end, and Adele, whose riveting performance of her new single pushed it to the top spot on the digital songs chart.
Lil Wayne's blockbuster album moved an even-better-than expected 964,000 copies, per SoundScan. That’s the second-best debut of the year, trailing only Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” which opened with 1.11 million.
Wayne’s album had a more profitable debut, in any case, since more than 40 percent of Gaga's first-week tally came via Amazon loss-leader 99-cent sale, while “Tha Carter IV” entered the race without any such pricing-handicap advantage.
The 964K figure wasn’t very far off Wayne's career best, which came in 2008, when “Tha Carter III” debuted with 1.01 million. Even a widely pirated leak of the album in the days before the MTV Awards didn’t put much of a crimp in the rapper's “blunt blowin’” style.
Having a harder time keeping pace with past successes were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who, possibly to their detrminent, were not the lone token rock band invited to appear on the guitar-avoidant MTV Awards.
“I’m With You” debuted at No. 2 with 229,000 copies -- monumental by most standards, but only about half the 442,000 their previous effort opened with five years ago.
If this was merely an arena-sized debut, compared with the massive figures for 2006's “Stadium Arcadium,” some of that could be due to fans taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the new music after the departure of the Chili Peppers' long-time guitarist, John Frusciante.
The other two top 10 entries were dance guru David Guetta’s “Nothing But the Beat,” in at No. 5 with 58,000, and country singer Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” which sold 55,000, more than doubling his previous best.
Two returning veterans slipped into the top 30: rock revivalist Lenny Kravitz settled for No. 18, while Glen Campbell’s purported final album came in at No. 24.
The already indomitable Adele got yet another leg up from her strikingly stark MTV appearance.
Already the bestselling album of the year, “21” enjoyed an 88 percent sales increase, selling 154,000 and holding steady at No. 3. Her previous release, "19," also saw a 60 percent increase and moved back up to No. 17 on sales of 20,000.
Even more significant was the boost for Adele's new single.
Some questioned her choice to do a slow ballad on the MTV Awards instead of the familiar, up-tempo "Rolling in the Deep."
But her simple performance of the searing, lovelorn “Someone Like You” quickly became one of the telecast's water-cooler moments, at least among the few viewers who still look to the MTV Awards for music -- or the greater number who are pleasantly surprised when it unexpectedly occurs.
The teary tune leapfrogged to the top of the digital songs chart by selling 275,000 downloads, a week-to-week increase of 191 percent.
On the album chart, the biggest MTV-related percentage increase belonged to the relatively unknown band Young the Giant, who, for reasons not immediately apparent, took the token rock slot on the telecast that the Chili Peppers might have enjoyed.
Their self-titled album benefitted from a 189 percent uptick, although, coming from such a low position, that only amounted to 10,000 in sales.