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- The news didn't stop just because we were stuffing our faces. The number one record in the country last week was Susan Boyle's The Gift. For the second week in a row, the Scottish warbler's Christmas collection topped Billboard's album chart, actually registering an increase over its first week's sales. Two other holiday albums debuted in the top ten: O Holy Night by ten-year-old Jackie Evancho lands at number 2, and the Glee Cast's Christmas Album comes in at number 8. Josh Groban's Illuminations, which is not a Christmas album, despite its title and wintry album cover, sold well enough to make it to number 4.
- Sales numbers also emerged for The Beatles' first week on iTunes. Apple reported that its download service sold 2 million individual songs by the band in addition to 450,000 albums. As Billboard points out, six of the ten top-selling tracks are unavailable on the band’s "hits" collection 1, "So perhaps casual fans -- who likely already own 1 -- cherry-picked tunes that they were lacking in their iTunes library," the magazine supposes. The only shocking aspect of this story: the idea of a "casual" Beatles fan.
- The sales period for determining the next chart champion has already closed, but, as the Los Angeles Times' Pop & Hiss blog noticed, a coupon from Amazon for three dollars off mp3 downloads (good until midnight tonight) means you can get new releases from Kanye West, Ne-Yo and Robyn for as little as 99 cents.
- Big-time New York music critics go all-in on hip-hop today. The New York Times' Jon Caramanica reviews the reunion show of underachieving Harlem crew the Diplomats ("This raucous night was the group's own Summer Jam, full of hits and obscurities and split into five parts: first, an opening group set; then three solo sets, by Jim Jones, then Juelz Santana, then Cam'ron; then everyone reunited to close the show."); in the New Yorker, Kelefa Sanneh looks at the effort of two recent books -- The Anthology of Rap, edited by Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois, and Jay-Z's Decoded -- to position rap as poetry ("They are, all of them, trading cachet, and their eagerness to make this trade suggests that they are trading up -- that hip-hop, despite its success, still aches for respect and recognition."); while Sanneh's NYer colleague Sasha Frere-Jones measures the "lusty" pop music made by Kanye West against the rapper's many non-musical avatars ("Although West is adept at making idiosyncratic records, he has dominated 2010 by doing so many different things that it feels almost naïve to discuss him as a recording artist.").
- Last week, Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox posted four collections of new demo recordings by his solo side project Atlas Sound on his blog for free download; Friday, Sony Music's anti-piracy department sent Cox an email telling him that they had deleted three of the sets. This is confusing, as neither of Cox's projects are signed to Sony-affiliated labels, and none of the material on the deleted collections is owned by the company. Cox has posted Sony's emails and re-uploaded the tapes. [via Pitchfork]