Forbes let the news drop today that Madonna’s twelfth album, MDNA, is set to endure the largest plunge in second-week sales in the history of charting these things, from 359,000 in its first week, to 46,000 in the second week; that’s an 88% drop in sales. What’s worse is that in order to get that big, rosy, sales figure that shot MDNA to number one in its first week, Madge cheated, sort of. Copies of the album were included in the sale of concert tickets for her upcoming tour, which Nielsen and SoundScan allowed to be counted, and that inflated the figures dramatically.
This is surprising, but not terribly; even for someone like Madonna, album sales aren’t driven entirely by an artist’s popularity; fans care about the material that’s actually on the record, and MDNA’s first single was almost universally panned. In “Give Me All Your Luvin,” she stuffed two of the most popular and interesting female recording artists working today, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., into claustrophobic verses on a melodically basic track that’s essentially about her own greatness. The track had the best possible premiere–Madonna performed it during the Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show, with Minaj and M.I.A. in tow–and pretty much the only thing watchers took away from the performance was M.I.A. flipping off the camera.
More telling still is that “Give Me All Your Luvin” peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, and currently sits at number 87 after 6 weeks on the chart. It fared better on the Dance/Club Play songs chart, which “is compiled by Billboard exclusively from playlists submitted by nightclub DJs who must apply and meet certain criteria to become “Billboard-reporting DJs,” and is some weird, cabalistic calculus if we’ve ever heard one. The epigram that precedes the clip for “Give Me All Your Luvin” reads “Fans can make you famous, a contract can make you rich, the press can make you a superstar, but only luv (sic) can make you a player.” All of that is maybe true, but only hits make hits.