Week Ending Oct. 27, 2013. Albums: Katy Perry Takes Female Record
Katy Perry’s third album, PRISM, sold 286K copies in its first week, which establishes a new record for a female artist in 2013. She edges out Miley Cyrus, whose Bangerz sold 270K in its first week two weeks ago. PRISM got off to a considerably faster start than Perry's last album, Teenage Dream, which sold 192K in its first week in August 2010.
Teenage Dream will forever be held up as Exhibit A when it comes to not dismissing an album based on a weaker-than-expected debut. Many pooh-poohed that album's first-week tally, given that the lead single, "California Gurls" (featuring Snoop Dogg), was a blockbuster. It had sold 3,319,000 copies by the time the album came out.
You don't need me to tell you that Teenage Dream confounded the naysayers. The album (which re-enters the chart at #106 this week) has sold 2,782,000 copies. It became the first album in a generation to spawn five #1 hits on the Hot 100. It even received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.
Some, no doubt, will say that PRISM should have should have sold more than 286K copies. Perry, after all, is one of the biggest and most broadly popular music stars of the past five years. But I think we have to accept the reality that album sales aren't what they used to be and that 286K is a solid total for a pop album. It's probably the equivalent of 750K or so in the early 2000s, when album sales were at their peak.
The last female artist to sell more than 286K copies in a week was Taylor Swift, whose Red sold 1,208,000 copies in its first week and 344K in its second late last year. Swift is in a class by herself in terms of album sales. Also, she has a country base, which Perry and Cyrus don't have.
The tally for Perry is the ninth biggest opening of the year, behind albums by Justin Timberlake (968K), Drake (658K), Jay Z (528K), Luke Bryan (528K), Timberlake again (350K), Daft Punk (339K), Kanye West (327K) and J. Cole (297K).