Taylor Swift's "Red" didn't win a thing at the Grammys or the Country Music Assn. Awards. But the album accomplishes something this week that makes up for those slights: It tops the 4 million mark in U.S. sales. All four of Swift's studio albums have reached that threshold. Swift's eponymous debut album has sold 5,419,000 copies since its release in 2006. "Fearless" has sold 6,818,000 copies since its release in 2008. "Speak Now" has sold 4,405,000 since its release in 2010.
Swift is just the third artist to top the 4M mark with his or her first four studio albums since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking music sales in 1991. She follows Garth Brooks (who did it with his first five non-holiday studio albums) and Eminem.
Swift's achievement is all the more remarkable because the album sales market has been shaky throughout her career. By contrast, it was strong when Brooks released his first album in 1989, and it was at its peak when Eminem released his first album in 1999.
A word of explanation: Brooks' first two studio albums were released before the start of the Nielsen SoundScan era, but they have each sold more than 4M copies since the meters were turned on in January 1991.
It's not just a coincidence that two of the three artists to have achieved this feat since 1991 have a strong country base. Country sells. This next item offers more proof of that.
Eric Church's "The Outsiders" sold 288K copies in its first week. That's the biggest one-week sales tally so far this year; the biggest for a country album since Luke Bryan's "Crash My Party" opened with sales of 528K in August. It's nearly twice the first-week sales of Church's previous album, "Chief," which sold 145K copies in its first week in July 2011.
"The Outsiders" enters The Billboard 200 at #1. "Chief" also debuted in the top spot. Church is just the third country male solo artist to top the big chart twice in the 2010s. He follows Bryan and Kenny Chesney.
"Chief" was Church's first album to sell more than 1 million copies. It is up to 1,702,000. In addition, it won the CMA award for Album of the Year. It also spawned Church's biggest hit to date, "Springsteen" (2,403,000).
"The Outsiders" sold 144K digital copies, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums. ("Chief" sold 45K digital copies in its first week, when it, too, topped the digital chart.)
Incidentally, The Outsiders was the name of a pop/rock group which had a top five hit in 1966, "Time Won't Let Me." This isn't the first time that the title of a #1 album has been the same as the name of a once-prominent group. Just last fall, Katy Perry reached #1 with "PRISM." A Canadian rock group with that name had five Hot 100 singles and three charted albums in the late '70s and early '80s.
"Frozen" holds at #2 for the second straight week. The album tops the 1 million mark in U.S. sales in its 12th week. It's the first soundtrack to reach 1M this quickly since Michael Jackson's "Michael Jackson's This Is It," which did it in seven weeks in the closing weeks of 2009. Since that was such a special case (it's basically Michael Jackson's Greatest Hits), it's arguable that it shouldn't count as a soundtrack. If you don't count it, "Frozen" is the first soundtrack to hit 1M in 12 or fewer weeks since Miley Cyrus's "Hannah Montana: The Movie," which did it in 10 weeks in the spring of 2009.
"Frozen" is #1 on Top Soundtracks for the 12th week. The movie was in the top 10 at the box-office for the 12th weekend.
Imagine Dragons' "Night Visions" rebounds from #12 to #6 in its 76th week, boosted by a $6.99 iTunes sale. (The sale also boosted Miley Cyrus's "Bangerz" and Journey's "Journey's Greatest Hits," among others.) "Night Visions" tops the 2 million mark in U.S. sales this week. Three songs from the album (Radioactive," "Demons" and "It's Time") have sold a combined total of 12,857,000 copies.
Pharrell Williams's "Happy" moves up to #1 on Hot Digital Songs (329K), displacing "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry featuring Juicy J. Will it also move up to #1 on the Hot 100, or will it need another week to do that? You'll find out later today when we post my Songs blogs.
Here's a recap of this week's top 10 albums.
The Top Five: Eric Church's "The Outsiders" debuts at #1 (288K). It's his third top 10 album … The "Frozen" soundtrack holds at #2 for the second week in its 12th week (100K). This is its 10th week in the top 10 …"Now 49" drops from #1 to #3 in its second week (77K) … Beyonce's "Beyonce" rebounds from #7 to #4 in its 10th week (48K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time … Bruno Mars's "Unorthodox Jukebox" drops from #3 to #5 in its 62nd week (48K). This is its 24th week in the top 10.
The Second Five: Imagine Dragons' "Night Visions" rebounds from #12 to #6 in its 76th week (41K). This is its 25th week in the top 10 … Lorde's "Pure Heroine" inches up from #8 to #7 in its 20th week (38K). This is its 15th week in the top 10 …Toni Braxton & Babyface's "Love, Marriage & Divorce" drops from #4 to #8 in its second week (33K) … Katy Perry's "PRISM" inches up from #10 to #9 in its 17th week (31K). This is its 16th week in the top 10 … Miley Cyrus's "Bangerz" rebounds from #18 to #10 in its 19th week (29K). This is its eighth week in the top 10.
Three albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Broken Bells's "After The Disco" drops from #5 to #30. Little Mix's "Salute" drops from #6 to #38. "2014 Grammy Nominees" drops from #9 to #11.
The Glitch Mob's second album, "Love Death Immortality," debuts at #13.
The Beatles' "1" jumps from #37 to #20 in its 161st chart week; its first full week following the initial airing of a TV special marking the 50th anniversary of the group's first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." The album returns to #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the first time since September 2011. This is its 13th week on top of that chart … Another Beatles album, "Abbey Road," jumps from #119 to #82 in its 170th chart week. The album this week becomes the first album from the 1960s to top the 5 million mark in sales since 1991.
Crosses' "+++" debuts at #26 … Frankie Ballard's "Sunshine & Whiskey" debuts at #35 … Band Of Horses' "Acoustic At The Ryman" debuts at #37. It's among the most successful albums recorded at the historic Nashville auditorium. Levon Helm's "Ramble At The Ryman" peaked at #144 in 2011. Emmylou Harris & the Nash Ramblers' "At The Ryman" reached #174 in 1992.
"The LEGO Movie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" jumps from #48 to #45 in its second week. The movie was #1 at the box-office for the second straight weekend.
The "Wicked" Original Broadway Cast Recording vaults from #180 to #66 in its 100th chart week. The 2003 album this week becomes the first original cast album to top the 500K mark in digital sales. The album has sold 2,439,000 copies overall (digital and CDs combined).
Metallica's "Through The Never" is #1 on Top Music Videos for the third straight week. It sold 8K copies this week, bringing its four-week total to 46K.
Coming Attractions: Cole Swindell's "Cole Swindell" is expected to be next week's top new entry. Also due: Phantogram's "Voices" and Candice Glover’s "Music Speaks.