Chart Watch: Frank Ocean's Transatlantic #1 Album


Frank Ocean’s Blonde enters the Billboard 200 at #1 this week, displacing the Suicide Squad soundtrack. The album sold 232K copies in traditional album sales, which is the third-biggest one-week sales total so far this year. It’s topped only by Drake’s Views (852K) and Beyoncé’s Lemonade (485K). But both of those artists had long strings of #1 albums behind them. Ocean’s sales tally is the greatest for an artist who hadn’t had a previous #1 album since the Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness started with traditional sales of 326K nearly a year ago.

(Is it significant that the three biggest one-week sales tallies so far in 2016 are all by black artists? Yep. Black music is huge. Is it meaningful that all three of these albums have one-word titles? That’s mostly a coincidence. But we’ve been seeing more one-word song titles in recent years. It stands to reason that we’ll start seeing more one-word album titles. People’s attention spans are shrinking by the minute!)

Blonde is Ocean’s second studio album. His debut, Channel ORANGE, debuted and peaked at #2 in July 2012.

Ocean is the second artist with that surname to notch two top 10 albums. Billy Ocean (no relation) reached the top 10 with Suddenly (#9 in 1984) and Love Zone (#6 in 1986).

This marks the second time that an album with the word “Blonde” in its title has reached #1. Rod Stewart’s Blondes Have More Fun was #1 for three weeks in February 1979. (Bob Dylan’s classic Blonde on Blonde peaked at #9 in October 1966.)

Blonde also debuts at #1 on the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart.

Five songs from Blonde enter this week’s Hot 100, including the week’s top three new entries: “Nikes” at #79, “Ivy” at #80, and “Pink + White” at #84. Ocean’s two other new entries, a bit further down, are “Solo” at #96 and “Nights” at #98.

Ocean released Blonde directly to Apple and iTunes, bypassing a traditional distribution company. Blonde is the first album to reach #1 without a traditional distribution set-up since Garth Brooks’s Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences nearly three years ago. Brooks released that hefty boxed set (six CDs and two DVDs) through his Pearl Records. It was sold exclusively through Walmart stores.

Ocean’s 2012 debut album, Channel ORANGE, vaults from #142 to #27 in its 46th chart week. The album received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. “Thinkin Bout You” was a Grammy finalist for Record of the Year. Will Ocean repeat those achievements when this year’s Grammy noms are announced in December? Stay tuned.

Top Songs

The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” (featuring Halsey) holds at #1 on the Hot 100 for the second week. It’s #1 on Top Digital Songs for the third time in the past four weeks, having sold 143K copies in the past week.

Major Lazer’s “Cold Water” (featuring Justin Bieber and MØ) rebounds from #3 to #2 in its fifth week. This is its third week at #2. Will it reach #1? Stay tuned. The song logs its fifth week at #1 on the U.K.’s Official Singles Chart.

“Closer” and “Cold Water” also rank #1 and #2 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic charts.

twenty one pilots have two songs in the top five this week. “Heathens,” from the movie Suicide Squad, holds at #4 for the third straight week; “Ride” jumps from #6 to #5 in its 24th week. “Ride” tops the 1 million mark in digital sales this week. The duo’s previous hit, “Stressed Out,” is up to 2,354,000. Billboard‘s Gary Trust notes that twenty one pilots is just the third duo to put two songs in the top five simultaneously. They follow Outkast, who doubled up for 14 weeks in 2003-04 with “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move,” and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who scored for three weeks in 2013 with “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us.”

Shawn Mendes lands his second top 10 hit as “Treat You Better” jumps from #12 to #10 in its 12th week. His breakthrough smash, “Stitches,” reached #4 earlier this year. Mendes’ new single, “Mercy,” debuts at #95. Both “Treat You Better” and “Mercy” are from Mendes’s second album, Illuminate, which is due Sept. 23. Will it match the #1 success of Mendes’s 2015 debut, Handwritten? Stay tuned.

Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” drops out of the top 10 after a 15-week run. It drops from #9 to #12 in its 16th week.

Lukas Graham’s “7 Years” tops the 2 million mark in digital sales this week. The song was #1 on Top Digital Songs for three weeks, but stalled at #2 on the Hot 100. It was the first song in two years to log as many as three weeks at #1 on the Digital Songs chart without reaching #1 on the Hot 100. The last song before this to do that? Ariana Grande’s “Problem” (featuring Iggy Azalea).

Daya’s “Hide Away” tops the 1 million mark in digital sales this week. The song reached #23 on the Hot 100.

Disturbed’s “The Sound of Silence” didn’t quite make the top 40 on the Hot 100 — it peaked at #42 — but it has sold very well. The rock-ballad version of Simon & Garfunkel’s folk-pop classic tops the 1 million mark in digital sales this week. S&G’s original version was certified gold for sales of 1 million vinyl singles in February 1966.

Top Albums

Drake’s Views holds at #2 for the fourth straight week. It’s the first album in chart history to rank #1 or #2 for each of its first 17 weeks. Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard soundtrack ranked #1 or #2 for each of its first 16 weeks in 1992-93.

Tory Lanez’s I Told You debuts at #4. It’s the first studio album by the Canadian rapper, 24. Lanez’s current hit, “Luv,” jumps from #30 to #21 in its ninth week on the Hot 100.

Brave Enough, the third studio album by electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling, debuts at #5. Her eponymous debut album peaked at #23. Her follow-up, Shatter Me, reached #2. All three of these albums reached #1 on the Classical Albums, Classical Crossover Albums, and Top Dance/Electronic Albums charts.

twenty one pilots’ Blurryface dips from #5 to #6 in its 67th week. The album debuted at #1 in May 2015. The duo’s 2013 album Vessel rebounds from #33 to #31 in its 106th chart week. The album has climbed as high as #21. Vessel is #1 on the Top Catalog Albums chart for the seventh week.

The Hamilton cast album rebounds from #11 to #10 in its 48th week. This is its ninth week in the top 10.

Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. PARTYNEXTDOOR’s PARTYNEXTDOOR 3 drops from #3 to #25 in its second week. Justin Moore’s Kinda Don’t Care dives from #4 to #29 in its second week. Rae Sremmurd’s Sremmlife 2 dives from #7 to #28 in its second week. Now 59 drops from #10 to #12 in its third week.

Dolly Parton’s Pure & Simple debuts at #11. It’s the seventh top 20 album by the legendary country star. Parton’s previous album, Blue Smoke, reached #6 in 2014. This marks the first time in Parton’s long career that she has made the top 20 with back-to-back albums. Parton first made the top 20 in January 1978 with Here You Come Again. She has made the top 20 with at least one album in each of the last five decades.

Pure & Simple enters Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Justin Moore’s Kinda Don’t Care. It’s Parton’s seventh #1 album on that chart (and her first since 1991). Parton first topped the country album chart in May 1977 with New Harvest…First Gathering.

Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots, Barbra Streisand’s Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway and Britney Spears’s Glory will all make potent debuts next week.