Listening Station: ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’

CD cover for “O Brother, Where Art Thou? [10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition]Ó released by Lost Highway.
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Also combing through the archives is songwriter Stephin Merritt, who cleans house with this collection of B-sides, covers and other rarities.

Mr. Merritt has a seemingly infinite supply of music, which he has released over the years under a seemingly infinite supply of aliases. Magnetic Fields may be his most famous outlet, but such pseudonyms as Buffalo Rome, the 6ths and the Gothic Archies also provide material for “Obscurities,” which mops up the electro-folk songs that Mr. Merritt left on the cutting-room floor during the first decade of his career.

Three of these cuts are from “The Song of Venus,” his unfinished science fiction musical. They’re the most interesting of the bunch, sounding less like rightfully discarded demos and more like the dry, hook-filled tunes that fill some of his better albums. Other songs don’t fare as well, though, making “Obscurities” the sort of odds-and-sods collection that appeals only to the most fanatical members of an artist’s fan base.

Katy Perry: Queen of Pop?

With “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” sitting at the top of Billboard’s singles chart this week, Katy Perry has become the second artist in history to produce five No. 1 hits from the same album. The other? Michael Jackson, who dominated the charts with “Bad” in 1987.

Take a look at actual sales, though, and the King of Pop still reigns supreme. “Bad” has sold more than 30 million copies, making it one of the highest-grossing albums ever released. Miss Perry’s individual singles may be multiplatinum hits, but the “Teenage Dream” album has yet to sell more than 5 million copies worldwide.

Musicologists may want to file this one alongside the record number of Hot 100 singles released by “Glee.” The TV show has technically charted more hits than the Beatles, even though the Fab Four sold approximately 25 million records in 1964 alone, more than double “Glee’s” total since 2009.

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