SoundScanner: An Unorthodox Sales Strategy Lands Bruno Mars At No. 1

Bruno Mars lays claim to his first No. 1 album on a chart that was shaped heavily by some deep discounting from Amazon’s MP3 store. Here’s a look at this week’s Nielsen SoundScan sales figures:

MARS LANDS AT NO. 1: Bruno Mars scores his first No. 1 album this week with Unorthodox Jukebox, which sold 95,000 copies this week. His first No. 1, really? Yep: Mars’ 2010 debut Doo-Wops & Hooligans debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the chart, and Jukebox arrived at No. 2 back in December with 192,000 first-week sales, losing out that week to Taylor Swift’s Red, which outsold it by 16,000 units. Jukebox climbs from No. 2 on last week’s chart with a 96 percent boost in sales thanks in large part to a deep discount at Amazon’s MP3 store, which sold the album for $1.99 for one day last week. With 960,000 copies sold to date, the Hawaiian heartstopper’s album stands a good chance of crossing the platinum plateau by next week’s chart. Mars, who will head out on his “Moonshine Jungle” tour this summer, also sees Jukebox’s second single, “When I Was Your Man,” jump up one spot to No. 2 on this week’s Digital Songs chart. The single has sold 1.3 million copies to date.

IF YOU DISCOUNT IT, THEY WILL BUY: The Amazon discount that gave Mars his chart triumph had a significant impact on this week’s chart, and is also responsible for surges in sales from Macklemore and Ryan LewisThe Heist (No. 4, up from No. 16), Muse’s The 2nd Law (No. 11, up from No. 55), Tegan & Sara’s Heartthrob (No. 19, up from No. 73), Passion Pit’s Gossamer (No. 33, did not chart last week), Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel (No. 74, did not chart last week) and more. In all, Amazon slashed prices on 20 big releases during its 24-hour sale. Macklemore and Lewis’ No. 4 showing marks the pair’s highest chart rank since they shocked the industry with a surprise No. 2 bow in October.

KE$HA’D OUT: Frankly, Ke$ha could use one of those Amazon discounts for her sophomore set Warrior. The album slips to No. 108 on this week’s chart, down from No. 88 last week, and 13 weeks after it was released it has sold only 234,000 copies. That’s a far cry from the 1.4 million copies Ke$ha moved of her 2010 debut Animal. Warrior’s lead single “Die Young” sold well, racking up 2.5 million sales on the Digital Songs chart, but second single “C’mon” is struggling, and has sold just 546,000 copies so far (it’s at No. 44 this week). Ke$ha: Release “Gold Trans Am” as a single now!

“HARLEM” SHAKY: Now that everyone you’ve ever known has done a “Harlem Shake” video —if you haven’t watched the one yet staring your mailman, your dry cleaner and your weird neighbor, you really should check it out! They really put a lot of effort into it!— Baauer’s viral video soundtrack dips a spot on this week’s Digital Songs chart, falling to No. 3. The song sold a still-impressive 228,000 copies this week, but that’s a 23 percent slide from last week, and may mark the waning of the “Harlem Shake” meme. Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” rises to No. 2 and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” holds on to No. 1, crossing the 4 million sales mark in the process. Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack” makes a No. 4 arrival on 215,000 first-week sales.

THE HILLSONGS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTIANITY: Thom Yorke’s Atoms for Peace outfit makes a No. 2 bow on this week’s chart with Amok, but the more puzzling debut comes from Hillsong United, whose set Zion debuts at No. 5. Here’s what we know about Hillsong United: The Australian Christian alt-rock group describes itself as “an evolving collaboration of pastors, worship leaders, musicians and songwriters,” and the church from whence they came, Australia’s Hillsong Church, was once tied to allegations of vote stacking on Australian Idol. Zion, which sold 34,000 copies this week, is the group’s top-charting effort to date. Crikey!

[Photo: Getty Images]