Well shut my mouth. A couple months ago, news emerged that AC/DC's new album, Black Ice, would be a Wal-Mart exclusive, and I, being a cynical sort, mocked the idea as forcing fans to "jump through hoops." It turns out that people like hoops, since the album (also available at Sam's Club and through the band's web site) debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts this week, selling 784,000 copies. That's second only to Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III for best opening-week sales all year. AC/DC topped the U.S. album charts once before back in 1982 with For Those About to Rock We Salute You, but this is their first #1 debut.
Elsewhere in the Top Ten Albums this week, High School Musical, Kid Rock, and other things that make me hope that suicide barrier at the Golden Gate Bridge will get installed soon prevail. But there are a few glimmers of hope further down the list. Georgia avant-popsters in crazy costumes Of Montreal landed at #38 with their 9th full-length, Skeletal Lamping, an album that critical consensus says isn't quite as spectacular as last year's Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer, but is still pretty good. Recent Riff feature Brett Dennen's Hope For the Hopeless debuted at #41, although he may just be riding some hope coattails. Hopetails?
The iTunes Top Ten is worse than ever, with Beyonce's baffling "If I Were a Boy" at #1. Oh, for the days of "Crazy In Love." Perhaps inspired by M.I.A., triple-time seems to be the cool thing right now, and both Britney Spears and Pink have top 5 hits that feature the same stomping, swinging rhythm. (Plus, don't get me started on Hillary Duff's new take on Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" that replaces the line "reach out and touch faith" with "reach out and touch me." Take that, Jesus!) They're all terrible, but Pink's in particular is produced so loudly it hurts your ears even at low volumes. Back off, studio guys!
Over in the UK, better-than-average pop combo Girls Aloud smashed into the top spot on the singles chart with "The Promise," a charming, if forgettable, retro-tinged ditty that's at least a welcome break from the screeching blasts of noise in the US top ten. And if you needed any more proof that rave is back, glowsticks and all, look no further than #3, where the 2008 remix of Guru Josh's ecstasy-fueled classic "Infinity" debuted this week. As UK chart historian James Masterson notes, Guru Josh hurt his career after "Infinity's" original chart run in 1990 by expressing sympathy for conservative politics, but apparently people have forgotten all about that. Plus, this is basically Kenny G with a beat. Oh, trance, you're like corn syrup for the ears: any primate with a beating heart can sense the sweetness, but too much will give you diabetes.