Week Ending May 26, 2013. Albums: Daft Punk Gets Lucky
Daft Punk’s fourth studio album, Random Access Memories, enters The Billboard 200 at #1 with first-week sales of 339,000. That’s the second best opening so far this year, trailing only Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, which opened with sales of 968K in March. While Timberlake has been putting up these kind of numbers for 15 years, dating back to his days with *NSYNC, this is a breakthrough for Daft Punk. The duo’s biggest sales week before this week came when its soundtrack to TRON: Legacy sold 71K in its first week in December 2010.
These two albums have something in common besides their blockbuster first weeks. Both albums were made available for free streaming on iTunes for a week prior to being released commercially. The idea behind this strategy is that the buzz and word-of-mouth created during the free streaming period offsets the lost sales. And it seems to be working. Billboard’s Alex Phem reports that more than 30 other artists have participated in Apple’s promotional program since it began in August 2011 with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ I’m With You. Other outlets have gotten in on the action, including YouTube, Spotify and Pandora.
Daft Punk, which consists of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, is one of the few French artists to reach #1 on The Billboard 200. Conductor Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra were #1 for five weeks in March 1968 with Blooming Hits. The album included the #1 instrumental smash “Love Is Blue.”
Random Access Memories is the first dance/electronic album to reach #1 since Madonna’s MDNA debuted at #1 in April 2012.
Random Access Memories sold nearly three times as many copies this week as Daft Punk’s previous studio album, 2005’s Human After All, has sold in its entire run (127K). That album was a dud for the duo. Its first two studio albums both sold better. Homework has sold 674K copies since its release in 1997. Discovery has sold 802K since its release in 2001. Discovery rebounds from #104 to #59 on The Billboard 200 this week. (It peaked at #44 when it was first released.) The album jumps to #1 on Top Catalog Albums, displacing George Jones’ Super Hits.
Two other factors lifted the new album to these heights. Daft Punk’s score for Disney’s TRON: Legacy boosted the duo’s profile and stature. (The album reached #4 in January 2011 and has sold 588K copies.) And the success of the top 10 single “Get Lucky” (featuring Pharrell Williams) has given the act heavy radio exposure for the past month. The glossy pop-disco track sounds like it would have been a smash at Studio 54 in the 1970s.
Random Access Memories sold 221K digital copies and enters Top Digital Albums at #1. TRON: Legacy headed the digital sales chart for three weeks in late 2010 and early 2011.