Beyonce's "Beyonce" sold 617K copies in the U.S. in its first three days of release. That's the fourth highest one-week sales total so far this year, following Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience" (968K), Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" (792K) and Drake's "Nothing Was The Same" (658K).
Both Timberlake and Drake are featured on B's star-studded album, which consists of 14 songs and 17 videos. The album is an iTunes exclusive for now. A CD/DVD combo is due on Friday.
This is the greatest one-week total for an album by a female artist since Taylor Swift's "Red" bowed with sales of 1,208,000 in October 2012. It's the greatest total for an album by an R&B artist (though Beyonce obviously transcends that label) since Mary J. Blige's "Growing Pains" bowed with 629K in December 2007.
This is the fastest start for a Beyonce album. The old record was held by 2006's "B'Day," which sold 541K in its first week. "Beyonce" sold nearly twice as many copies in its first week as B's 2011 album, "4" (310K).
This was a stealth release that few knew about as late as last Thursday, when initial sales projections had Garth Brooks holding on to the top spot for a second week. Beyonce's album was put on the market without any advance hype; as Hits magazine put it, "without any wind-up, preamble or tease." This is contrary to the usual pattern with superstar releases, where there is a carefully-planned build-up that entails from two to four months.
Only one album has ever sold more digital copies in one week. That's Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," which bowed with 662K in May 2011. (An estimated 440K of those were sold for just 99 cents in Amazon's MP3 store).
Beyonce's album sets a new record for the fastest start by a digital-only release. The old record was set by the all-star "Hope For Haiti Now," which sold 171K copies in its first week in January 2010.The old record for a digital-only release by a single artist was Lil Wayne's "I Am Not A Human Being" which sold 110K in its first week in October 2010.
With this debut, Beyonce becomes the first female solo artist to reach #1 on The Billboard 200 with each of her first five studio albums. Only one other artist in chart history has hit #1 with his or her first five albums: Rapper DMX, who achieved the feat between 1998 and 2003.
Only three other African American women in chart history have amassed five or more #1 albums. Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey lead with six. Alicia Keys has also had five. (Carey and Keys are biracial.)
In just one week, "Beyonce" has topped Rihanna's "Unapologetic" as the year's top (non-rap) R&B album. And it's closing in on P!nk's "The Truth About Love" as the year's best-selling album by a female artist. (Both of those albums sold additional copies in 2012.)
Beyonce needed a career lift. Her last album, "4," was her least successful. It has sold "just" 1,381,000 copies (great for most artists, a disappointment for Beyonce). It was also her first album to fail to spawn at least one top 10 single. The album's highest-charting single, "Best Thing I Never Had," stalled at #16.
"Beyonce" is the seventh album of 2013 to sell 500K or more copies in its first week. This is the first year that seven albums have sold 500K in their first week since 2008.
The chart news isn't as good for another female megastar. Britney Spears' "Britney Jean" tumbles from #4 to #22 in its second week. It's Spears' first studio album to fall out of the top 10 after just one week. Her previous shortest run in the top 10 for a studio album was 2007's "Blackout," which spent two weeks in the top 10.
Michael Jackson had amassed 43 weeks at #1 on The Billboard 200 (with "Thriller" and "Bad") before Garth Brooks landed his first #1 album, "Ropin' The Wind," in September 1991. But last week, Brooks pulled ahead of Jackson in terms of total weeks at #1. Brooks' bargain-priced box set "Blame it All On My Roots: Five Decades Of Influences" brought his career total of weeks at #1 to 52. Jackson logged 51 weeks at #1. Two artists have had more weeks at #1 than Brooks: The Beatles (132 weeks) and Elvis Presley (67 weeks).
Brooks' album dips to #2 this week. It holds at #1 on Top Country Albums for the third week. It's Brooks' longest-running #1 album on the country chart since "Scarecrow" held tight for seven weeks in 2001-2002.
Kelly Clarkson's "Wrapped In Red" holds at #3 for the second week. The album benefited from NBC's airing last week of "Kelly Clarkson's Cautionary Christmas Music Tale." As of this week, "Wrapped In Red" has a narrow lead over The Robertsons' "Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas" as the best-selling holiday album of 2013. "Wrapped" has sold 578K copies, 9K more than "Duck." There are two chart weeks to go in 2013. Which will come out on top for the entire year? Stay tuned.
R. Kelly's "Black Panties" debuts at #4. It's his 15th top 10 album. Only three other African American artists have amassed 15 or more top 10 albums. Johnny Mathis and Mariah Carey have each had 16. Jay Z has also had 15. ("Black Panties" is one of the most explicitly sexual album covers and album titles ever on a top five album.)
Childish Gambino's sophomore album "Because the Internet" debuts at #7. His 2011 debut, "Camp," peaked at #11. Gambino (real name: Donald Glover) was a writer on "30 Rock" and is a cast member on "Community." (Incidentally, this is the first album with the word "internet" in its title to crack The Billboard 200. What took so long?)
The "Frozen" soundtrack jumps from #11 to #10 in its third week. It's the first soundtrack to an animated movie to make the top 10 since Cars hit #6 in June 2006. Both are Disney movies. The album is #1 on Top Soundtracks for the third week. Idina Menzel and Demi Lovato are both climbing the Hot 100 with the album's key song. "Let It Go." The song was nominated for a Golden Globe last week.
"Say Something" by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera jumps to #1 on Hot Digital Songs (233K), displacing Timber" by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha, which dips to #2 (187K). "The Monster" by Eminem featuring Rihanna dips from #2 to #3 (175K). Which of these songs will top the Hot 100? You'll find out later today when we post my Songs blog.
Here's a recap of this week's top 10.
The Top Five: Beyonce's "Beyonce" debuts at #1 (617K). It's her fifth top 10 album…Garth Brooks' "Blame it All On My Roots: Five Decades Of Influences" dips from #1 to #2 in its third week (172K). It has been in the top five the entire time… Kelly Clarkson's "Wrapped In Red" holds at #3 for the second week in its seventh week (136K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time… R. Kelly's "Black Panties" debuts at #4 (133K). It's his 15th top 10 album…One Direction's "Midnight Memories" drops from #2 to #5 in its third week (123K). It has been in the top five the entire time.
The Second Five: The Robertsons' "Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas" dips from #5 to #6 in its seventh week (108K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time…Childish Gambino's "Because The Internet" debuts at #7 (96K). It's his first top 10 album… Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" drops from #6 to #8 in its sixth week (83K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time… Katy Perry's "Prism" holds at #9 for the second week in its eighth week (59K). This is its seventh week in the top 10… The "Frozen" soundtrack jumps from #11 to #10 in its third week (56K).
Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. I already told you about Britney Spears' "Britney Jean." In addition, Pentatonix's "PTXmas" drops from #7 to #26, Michael Buble's "Christmas" drops from #8 to #13 and Mary J. Blige's "A Mary Christmas" dips from #10 to #11. ("Christmas" returns to #1 on Top Catalog Albums, displacing Pentatonix's EP.)
Zac Brown Band's The Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1 debuts at #25. Dave Grohl produced the EP…Neil Young's "Live At The Cellar Door" debuts at #28. Young recorded the album at the Washington, D.C. club in 1970. This is his sixth live album to crack the top 30.
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug soundtrack debuts at #39. Howard Shore composed the score. The movie was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. The soundtrack to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey debuted and peaked at #30 a year ago.
Five albums top the 500K mark in sales this week: "Beyonce," aforementioned Christmas albums by Kelly Clarkson and The Robertsons, Lady Antebellum's "Golden" and Lorde's "Pure Heroine."
Eric Clapton's "Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013" moves up to #1 in its fourth week on Top Music Videos.
Coming Attractions: B.o.B's Underground Luxury is expected to be next week's top new entry.
To My Readers: Look for my recap of the year's top albums and singles today (Wednesday). Also, because of the holidays, Nielsen SoundScan will post the weekly charts on Thursdays, rather than Wednesdays, the next two weeks. That will push Chart Watch back one day for the next two weeks.