J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only enters the Billboard 200 at in the top spot, becoming his fourth consecutive No. 1 album. The album moved 492K in equivalent units, which includes 363K in traditional album sales. Those are the third-biggest first-week tallies so far this year, behind Drake’s Views and Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
4 Your Eyez Only was released on Dec. 9. Cole’s previous album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, was released on the same date two years ago. (It debuted at No. 1, interrupting Taylor Swift’s reign at No. 1 with 1989.) This is significant because the weeks leading up to Christmas are traditionally the most competitive time of the year for albums.
Cole’s debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, opened at No. 1 in October 2011. His sophomore album, Born Sinner, opened at No. 2 in July 2013 (behind Kanye West’s Yeezus), but rose to No. 1 in its third week.
Each of Cole’s four albums has sold more copies in its first week (in traditional album sales) than the one before it. The progression is 217K, 297K, 354K, and 363K. (This is also true of Swift’s albums. Each of her five albums has sold more copies in its first week than the one before it.)
The spelling of 4 Your Eyez Only seems to be a nod to Prince, whose albums included The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, Lotusflow3r/MPL Sound, and 4Ever.
Deep trivia: In terms of No. 1 albums, J. Cole is second only to R. Kelly among artists who use an initial in place of their first name. R. Kelly has had six No. 1 albums. If you’re wondering, the initials stand for Jermaine (Cole) and Robert (Kelly).
All 10 songs from Cole’s album enter the Hot 100 this week, led by “Deja Vu,” which opens at No. 7. It’s the week’s second-highest new entry, just behind the Zayn/Taylor Swift collabo “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker).” Cole has two other songs on this week’s Hot 100 (for a total of 12). Both of these songs, “Everybody Dies” and “False Prophets, are from his recently released 4 Your Eyez Only documentary.
“Deja Vu” is Cole’s first top 10 hit. His previous highest-charting single was “Work Out,” which peaked at No. 13 in early 2012.
As mentioned above, the Zayn and Taylor Swift’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)” debuts at No. 6. It’s Zayn’s sixth top 10 hit (counting four hits with One Direction); Swift’s 20th. It’s Swift’s 13th single to debut in the top 10, which extends her lead among all artists.
The song is from Fifty Shades Darker, the upcoming sequel to the 2015 hit, Fifty Shades of Grey. That movie spawned two five hits, the Weeknd’s “Earned It” and Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do.”
This is Swift’s second collaboration to crack the top 10. The first was “Bad Blood,” her 2015 smash which featured Kendrick Lamar. It’s Swift’s second top 10 hit that originated in a movie. It follows “Today Was a Fairytale” (from Valentine’s Day), which reached No. 2 in 2010.
Swift co-wrote the song with Jack Antonoff (of fun. and Bleachers) and Sam Dew. Swift and Antonoff also co-wrote an earlier song from a movie, “Sweeter Than Fiction” from the 2013 film One Chance.
Two factors kept “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” from debuting higher. First, the track was withheld from Spotify during the tracking week (though it was available on Apple Music, Tidal, and other subscription-only streaming services). Also, no official music video for the song has yet been released. (The song may well move up in its second week. A lyric video was released Dec. 15. The song was on Spotify as of Dec. 16.)
“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” sold 188K digital copies in its first week, the largest tally any song has attained in the past 14 weeks. It enters Top Digital Songs at No. 1, displacing Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles,” which spent five weeks on top. This is Swift’s 11th No. 1 hit on the Digital Songs chart, which puts her in a tie for second place with her rumored nemesis Katy Perry (their falling out supposedly inspired “Bad Blood”). Only Rihanna has amassed more No. 1 hits on that chart (14).
This is Zayn’s second No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart in 2016. His first solo single, “Pillowtalk,” entered the chart at No. 1 in February. Zayn is only the second artist to land two No. 1 hits on that chart (as a lead or co-lead artist) this year. The first was Drake, who scored with “Pop Style” (featuring the Throne) and “One Dance” (featuring WizKid and Kyla).
Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles” (featuring Gucci Mane) tops the Hot 100 for the sixth week in its 14th week on the chart. Just two Beatles songs logged six or more weeks at No. 1. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was on top for seven weeks in 1964. “Hey Jude” led for nine weeks in 1968.
The Weeknd’s “Starboy” (featuring Daft Punk) holds at No. 2 in its 13th week. This is its eighth non-consecutive week at No. 2. It’s the first song to log eight weeks at No. 2 without reaching the top spot since Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” nearly two years ago.
The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” (featuring Halsey) holds at No. 3 in its 20th week. The song logged 12 weeks at No. 1.
Bruno Mars’s “24K Magic,” the first single from Mars’s album of the same name, holds at No. 4 its 10th week. This is its highest ranking to date.
Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side” (featuring Nicki Minaj) holds at No. 5 in its 16th week. The song has climbed as high as No. 4.
“Juju on That Beat (TZ Anthem)” by Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion drops from No. 6 to No. 8 in its 12th week. It reached No. 5 three weeks ago.
DJ Snake’s “Let Me Love You” (featuring Justin Bieber) dips from No. 8 to No. 9 in its 19th week. The song reached No. 4.
Maroon 5’s “Don’t Wanna Know” (featuring Kendrick Lamar) drops from No. 7 to No. 10 its 10th week.
twenty one pilots’ “Heathens” and “Bad Things” by Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello drop out of the top 10 this week. (It was announced today that Cabello has decided to leave Fifth Harmony.)
Pentatonix have two albums in this week’s top five. A Pentatonix Christmas moves up from No. 3 to No. 2 in its eighth week. That’s Christmas to Me (which spent two weeks at No. 2 two years ago) rebounds from No. 8 to No. 5 in its 31st week on the chart. Billboard‘s Keith Caulfield notes that Pentatonix are the first act to put two albums in the top five simultaneously since Prince did it in April, following his death. (David Bowie and Whitney Houston also achieved the feat posthumously.) The last act to have two albums in the top five while still living (always the preferred way to do things) was Adele, who scored in March 2012 following her sweep of the Grammys.
This is its third non-consecutive week at No. 2 for A Pentatonix Christmas. It has ranked No. 2 behind three different No. 1 albums (by A Tribe Called Quest, the Weeknd, and now J. Cole). As for That’s Christmas to Me, the album is No. 1 on Top Catalog Albums for the 13th (cumulative) week.
The Weeknd’s Starboy dips from No. 2 to No. 3 in its third week. The album debuted at No. 1 two weeks ago.
Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic rebounds from No. 6 to No. 4 in its fourth week. The album debuted and peaked at No. 2.
Post Malone’s debut album, Stoney, debuts at No. 6. Post Malone is the second white rapper to debut in the top 10 in the past two months. Mac Miller bowed at No. 2 in September with The Divine Feminine. Stoney includes three Hot 100 singles, including “White Iverson,” which reached No. 14.
The Hamilton Broadway cast album rebounds from No. 11 to No. 7 in its 64th week. The album peaked at No. 3 in the wake of the Tony Awards in June.
The Moana soundtrack dips from No. 7 to No. 8 in its fourth week. The album peaked at No. 5. It’s No. 1 on Top Soundtracks for the second week.
Michael Bublé’s Christmas rebounds from No. 13 to No. 9 in its 54th chart week. The album logged five weeks at No. 1 in its first holiday season five years ago.
The Rolling Stones’ Blue & Lonesome drops from No. 4 to No. 10 in its second week.
Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. The Hamilton Mixtape drops from No. 1 to No. 14. Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!” drops from No. 5 to No. 20. Grace VanderWaal’s Perfectly Imperfect EP plummets from No. 9 to No. 53. Kane Brown’s Kane Brown dives from No. 10 to No. 47.
Tech N9ne lands his ninth top 20 album as The Storm debuts at No. 12. The title echoes the title of his 1999 debut album, The Calm Before the Storm.
I have both good and bad news for Garth Brooks fans. First, the good news: His 10-CD opus The Ultimate Collection is in its fifth week of release and thus is finally eligible to appear on various Billboard charts. (Billboard bars low-priced albums from charting in their first four weeks of release. But for that rule, the album would have appeared in the top 10 on the Billboard 200 in its first three weeks.) Now, the bad news: The collection enters that chart at No. 13, just missing becoming Brooks’s 18th top 10 album.
There is a consolation prize of sorts for Brooks: The collection enters Top Country Albums at No. 1, displacing Kane Brown’s Kane Brown. It’s Brooks’s 16th No. 1 country album; his second in the space of five weeks (following Christmas Together, a collabo with his wife, Trisha Yearwood). Brooks is the only artist to land two No. 1 country albums in 2016. Moreover, this the first time Brooks has had two No. 1 country albums in the same calendar year since 1999, when he scored with Double Live (a holdover from 1998) and Garth Brooks & The Magic of Christmas. Finally, The Ultimate Collection is the third box set to top the country chart. The first two were also by Brooks — The Limited Series (1998) and Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences (2013).
Neil Young’s 37th studio album, Peace Trail, debuts at No. 76. In 1971, Cat Stevens had a top 10 hit that was just one letter off — “Peace Train.”
Coming attractions: Look for debuts next week by Gucci Mane’s The Return of East Atlanta Santa, Kid Cudi’s Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’, and the score soundtrack from this past weekend’s No. 1 movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.