Week Ending March 24, 2013. Albums: Timberlake Sets Male Pop Record

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  • Justin Timberlake
    Justin Timberlake
    American artist and businessman
  • Taylor Swift
    Taylor Swift
    American singer-songwriter

Justin Timberlake

’s third solo album, The 20/20 Experience, enters The Billboard 200 at #1 with first-week sales of 968K. That’s the biggest one-week sales tally since Taylor Swift’sRed sold 1,208,000 copies in its first week in October. It’s the biggest one-week tally by a male artist since Lil Wayne’sTha Carter III opened with sales of 1,006,000 in September 2008. It’s the biggest one-week tally in the first quarter of the year (when sales are generally slower) since 50 Cent’sThe Massacre opened with sales of 1,141,000 in March 2005.

The 20/20 Experience also set a new record for the biggest one-week sales tally for an album by a male pop artist since 1991, when Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard. This stat excludes R&B (Usher), country (Garth Brooks) and rap (Eminem, 50 Cent and Lil Wayne). Who held the previous record? Try and guess. Details below.

First-week sales projections for Timberlake’s album were revised upward several times, from the initial forecast of 500K on March 11. About the only disappointment for Timberlake is that 20/20 just missed becoming the 19th album to sell 1 million copies in a week since 1991. No album has ever come so close to the magic 1M mark without quite reaching it.

Each of Timberlake’s three solo albums has sold more copies in its first week than the one that preceded it. Justified sold 439K copies in its first week in November 2002. FutureSex/LoveSounds sold 684K copies in its first week in September 2006.

Timberlake took a huge risk going 6-1/2 years between studio albums. That’s a lifetime in pop music. Swift, Lady Gaga, Adele and Justin Bieber are just a few of the artists who have debuted since Timberlake released his last album. You could say that Timberlake’s faith in his fans to remain loyal while he was off doing other things was Justified.

After just one week, The 20/20 Experience is already the best-selling album so far in 2013. The runner-up is Mumford & Sons’ Babel, which has sold 658K copies in this calendar year. Babel won a Grammy for Album of the Year in February. The 20/20 Experience is likely to be nominated for that award next February. Timberlake’s first two solo albums were both finalists for the award.

Timberlake has now had as many #1 albums on his own as he did with *NSYNC. That boy band topped the chart with 2000’s No Strings Attached and 2001’s Celebrity. It’s easy now to take Timberlake’s emergence from that group for granted, but it was a remarkable feat. Very few members of boy bands have gone on to successful careers as solo artists.

The 20/20 Experience is the 23rd album since 1991 to sell 900K or more copies in one week. Timberlake has three of them (counting the two aforementioned *NSYNC albums). No other artist has topped 900K in weekly sales with three albums. (Trailing with two albums at or above 900K are, in addition to *NSYNC, Eminem, Backstreet Boys, Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and Lil Wayne).

Timberlake has been a pop star for nearly 15 years (*NSYNC’s first album hit the chart in April 1998). It’s very rare for an artist who has been around this long to sell as many albums in one week as Timberlake did this week. In fact, only one act has ever done it before. The Beatles had been famous nearly 37 years when their hits compilation 1 sold 1,259,000 copies during Christmas week 2000.

This week’s debut also gives Timberlake back his title as pop’s reigning Justin. Justin Bieber’s biggest first-week total is 374K for Believe in June 2011.

The sales tally for The 20/20 Experience includes 452K digital copies. Only two albums have sold this many digital copies in one week. Lady Gaga’sBorn This Way sold 662K digital copies in its first week in May 2011. (For the record, an estimated 400K of those albums were sold for 99 cents at Amazon MP3). Taylor Swift’sRed sold 465K digital copies in its first week in October.

As a sign of how much the digital album market has grown, FutureSex/LoveSounds sold just 67K digital copies in its first week. And that now-modest tally constituted a new one-week sales record at the time. (FutureSex took the title from Coldplay’s X&Y.)

The 20/20 Experience also debuts at #1 on the Official U.K. chart. All three of Timberlake’s solo albums have reached #1 in the U.K.

“Suit & Tie,” Timberlake’s snazzy collabo with Jay-Z, has climbed as high as #4 on the Hot 100. The follow-up, “Mirrors,” is approaching the top 20. “Suit & Tie” has received mixed reviews (Kanye West felt compelled to diss it) but it has held up well under sustained airplay, which is the ultimate test of a hit single.

What album by a male pop artist held the previous one-week sales record? I’ll accept three different answers as correct. Kenny G’s Miracles—The Holiday Album sold 819K, but since he’s an instrumentalist, you may not have thought of him. Josh Groban’s Noel sold 757K, but since he’s a pop/classical hybrid, you may not think of him as pop. That brings us to Timberlake’s previous album FutureSex/LoveSounds (684K).

Incidentally, FutureSex/LoveSounds rebounds from #98 to #37 on The Billboard 200. That puts it at #1 on the Top Catalog Albums chart for the first time.

Kacey Musgraves’

Same Trailer Different Park debuts at #2. It enters Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Luke Bryan’sSpring Break…Here To Party. It’s Musgraves’ fourth album; her first for a major label. Musgraves co-wrote Miranda Lambert’s current top 40 hit “Mama’s Broken Heart.”

P!nk’s The Truth About Love rebounds from #11 to #5. This is its ninth week in the top 10. That’s P!nk’s longest run in the top 10 since her 2002 blockbuster Missundazstood spent 23 weeks in the top 10. Both of these albums have spawned three top 10 hits on the Hot 100.

Les Miserables

rebounds from #59 to #8 in the wake of the release of a deluxe edition of the album, and the release of the DVD. The album returns to #1 on Top Soundtracks, displacing Sound City—Real To Reel. This is the sixth week that Les Miz has been the top-ranking soundtrack.

Mumford & Sons’ Babel holds at #9. This is its 20th week in the top 10, which surpasses the 19-week run of the group’s previous album, Sigh No More. Babel has sold 2,122,000 copies, which puts it just 722K behind Sigh No More. Will it surpass its smash predecessor? Place your bets.

“Just Give Me A Reason” by Pink featuring Nate Ruess jumps to #1 on Hot Digital Songs, displacing “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz, which spent the last 10 weeks on top. Could “Just Give Me A Reason” leap from #9 to #1 on the Hot 100? Or will “Thrift Shop” return to the top spot after five weeks at #2? Or will Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” remain on top for a sixth week? Or will Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” or “Stay” by Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko move up? You’ll find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

Here’s the low-down on this week’s top 10 albums.

The Top Five: Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience debuts at #1 (968K). It’s Timberlake’s seventh top 10 album (counting four albums with *NSYNC)… Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park debuts at #2 (43K). It’s her first top 10 album…Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox rebounds from #5 to #3 in its 15th week (41K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time…Luke Bryan’s Spring Break…Here To Party dips from #3 to #4 in its third week (38K). It has been in the top five the entire time… P!nk’s The Truth About Love rebounds from #11 to #5 in its 27th week (36K). This is its ninth week in the top 10.

The Second Five: Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions rebounds from #12 to #6 in its 29th week (29K). This is its fifth week in the top 10… Bon Jovi’s What About Now drops from #1 to #7 in its second week (29K)… The Les Miserables soundtrack rebounds from #59 to #8 in its 14th week (28K). This is its sixth week in the top 10…Mumford & Sons’ Babel holds at #9 for the second week in its 26th week (27K). This is its 20th week in the top 10… Rihanna’s Unapologetic rebounds from #13 to #10 in its 18th week (26K). This is its seventh week in the top 10…

The Sound City—Real To Reel soundtrack dives from #8 to #47. But the music video of the same name holds at #1 on Top Music Videos for the second week. Five other albums drop out of the top 10 this week. David Bowie’sTheNext Day drops from #2 to #11. Passion’s Let The Future Begin plummets from #4 to #60. Mindless Behavior’sAll Around The World drops from #6 to #33. Eric Clapton’sOld Sock drops from #7 to #23… Jimi Hendrix’sPeople, Hell And Angels drops from #10 to #20.

Clutch’s 10th studio album, Earth Rocker, debuts at #15. It’s the band’s first top 30 album…Draco Rosa’s Vida debuts at #30…It’s the highest-charting album to date for Rosa, whose Mad Love reached #119 in 2004. Rosa was a member of Menudo from 1984 to 1987. (Ricky Martin was also in the boy band in those years.)…Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s seventh studio album, Specter At The Feast, debuts at #35. It’s the band’s first top 40 album.

Taylor Swift’s

Red this week becomes the first album by an artist with a country base to sell 1 million digital copies. (Notice that I didn’t call it a country album, because it’s right on the line between pop and country. It will be interesting to see where it is slotted in the Grammy process this fall. It could compete for Best Country Album or Best Pop Vocal Album, but not for both awards). In any event, Red is the sixth album to sell 1 million digital copies; the third by a female artist. It follows Adele’s 21 and Lady Gaga’sThe Fame.

Croods was #1 at the box-office over the weekend.

Coming Attractions: Look for Justin Timberlake’s album to remain on top next week with sales in the 300K range. Debuts will account for the next five spots: Lil Wayne’s I Am Not A Human Being II at #2 (200K), Blake Shelton’s Based On A True Story… at #3 (180K), OneRepublic’s Native at #4 (55K), Depeche Mode’s Delta Machine at #5 (55K) and Alan Jackson’s Precious Memories, Vol. II at #6 (45K). The Strokes’ Comedown Machine will probably open at #8 (35K). Two other albums will open in the top 15: Sevendust’s Black Out The Sun (28K) and Thompson Square’s Just Feels Good (28K). Also due: Dido’s Girl Who Got Away, Fred Hammond’s United Tenors and will.i.am’s #willpower.