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Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” is #2 on Billboard this week! Thanks to all who are buying the album!
— Merge Records (@mergerecords) August 18, 2010
Yeah, so their sales got cut in half and they only retained the #2 spot by the grace of one of the slowest release weeks in the entire year — but Arcade Fire are still mostly on top! (On top of the Disney Channel’s Camp Rock 2: the Final Jam, but whatever.) The indie band sold 52,000 copies their second week out, a plunge from last week’s 156,000, and nowhere near Eminem’s casual return (at 133K) to the top of a chart he’s been dominating since Recovery came out two months ago. And though the Amazon-discount-did-it theory seems more and more persuasive, as far as explaining the band’s somewhat shocking #1, let’s just pause to note that though the numbers aren’t all that impressive, Arcade Fire are still very much at the top of the popular firmament.
What that means depends on whom you ask. Us, we’re still of the mind it means something: the intersection of two lines, let’s say, one representing the crashing prospects of the record industry, the other representing the increasing rise of “indie rock” as something that’s more and more synonymous with rock music, period. Popular culture may not be all that popular now but Arcade Fire have at least proved, over the past two weeks, that they have a place in it. Could Pavement have said the same?