Chart Watch: How Grande's New Album Stacks Up Against Her Pop Peers

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Ariana Grande's sophomore album, My Everything, sold 169K copies in its first week. That’s the ninth biggest first-week sales tally so far this year. Among albums by female artists, it’s third, behind Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence (182K) and Miranda Lambert's Platinum (180K).

Nobody’s going to have a “Problem” with that, to cite the title of Grande’s biggest hit, but it’s a mild disappointment, given how hot Grande has been at pop radio this year.

My Everything sold 31K more copies than Grande’s debut album, Yours Truly, when it opened at #1 in September 2013. At that point, Grande had had just one top 10 hit, “The Way” (featuring Mac Miller). She has since had three more top 10 hits and has become a high-profile media celebrity. In the last two weeks, she has appeared everywhere from the VMAs (where “Problem” won for Best Pop Video) to American Top 40, which she guest-hosted over the weekend.

For those reasons, I initially expected that My Everything would sell even more copies in its first week. It wouldn’t have been realistic to expect it to approach the first-week sales of Beyonce's Beyonce (617K) or Coldplay's Ghost Stories (383K). But I figured it would more or less match the first-week numbers of the latest albums by three other female pop stars, all of whom are in Grande’s “lane” at pop radio: Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Last fall, in the space of six weeks, all three of these women released new studio albums. Cyrus’s Bangerz sold 270K its first week. Perry’s Prism sold 286K. Gaga’s ARTPOP sold 258K.

My Everything handily outsold Selena Gomez's Stars Dance, which sold 97K in its first week in July 2013, and Sia's 1000 Forms Of Fear, which sold 52K in its first week in July 2014. But those artists weren’t at the same point in their careers as Grande is now. This is her moment.

The first two singles from Grande’s album—”Problem” (featuring Iggy Azalea) and “Break Free” (featuring Zedd)—both made the top five on the Hot 100. “Bang Bang” (a co-equal collabo with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj which is featured on the deluxe edition of Grande’s album) has climbed as high as #6. All three songs appeared in the top 10 on the Hot 100 two weeks ago. That made Grande only the second female artist to have three concurrent top 10 hits as a lead (or co-lead) artist. Adele was the first, in the first full week following her Grammy sweep in February 2012.

Grande is the first artist to reach #1 with both of his/her/its first two studio albums in the space of a year since One Direction scored in 2012. She’s the first female artist to achieve the feat since Susan Boyle in 2009-2010. (Grande made it just under the wire. Yours Truly hit #1 in the week ending Sept. 8, 2013. My Everything hits #1 in the week ending Aug. 31, 2014.)

Also, Grande is the first female artist in nearly four years to debut at #1 with her first two studio albums. The last female artist to do this was Boyle, who achieved the feat with 2009’s I Dreamed A Dream and 2010’s The Gift.

Besides these two women, just six other female artists have debuted at #1 with both of their first two studio albums: Britney Spears, Ashanti, Alicia Keys, Ashlee Simpson, Beyonce and Miley Cyrus.

Grande’s album has received favorable reviews. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Mikael Wood calls it “as strong a pop record as any so far this year.” He was most struck by “the confidence with which Grande expresses herself, a real shift from her charmingly tentative manner on Yours Truly.

My Everything enters the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart at #3. That beats Grande’s first album, which debuted and peaked at #7 in the U.K.

If the title of Grande’s album seems familiar, you’re on to something: Anita Baker released an album titled My Everything a decade ago. It reached #4 on The Billboard 200 in September 2004.

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