Luke Bryan celebrates his third No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart as his new release Kill the Lights makes a smashing debut atop the list. The album -- which was released on Aug. 7 through Capitol Records Nashville -- moved 345,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Aug. 13, according to Nielsen Music.
Of that sum, 320,000 were pure album sales.
Thus, Kill the Lights tallies the third-largest week of 2015 for an album, both in overall units and album sales. The only larger frames were racked by the debuts of Drake’s surprise album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (535,000 in overall units; 495,000 in album sales -- week ending Feb. 15.) and Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly (363,000 units; 324,000 album sales -- week ending March 22).
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new Aug. 29-dated chart (where Bryan debuts at No. 1) will be posted in full to Billboard’s websites on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
Kill The Lights’ start is also the largest sales week for a country album in three years -- since Bryan’s last studio effort, Crash My Party, started at No. 1 with 528,000 in the week ending Aug 18, 2013.
In addition to Kill the Lights and Crash My Party, Bryan also led the list with his Spring Break… Here to Party compilation in 2013.
Naturally, Kill the Lights also debuts at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart, marking his sixth leader on that list.
Back on the Billboard 200, Dr. Dre’s new Compton album makes a strong start at No. 2 with 295,000 equivalent album units (of which 276,000 are pure sales). The set -- his third, and first in nearly 16 years -- is exclusively available for purchase through the iTunes Store, and streaming through the Apple Music service. (The album, released through Aftermath/Interscope Records, is exclusive to Apple and iTunes for its first two weeks of release.)
Though the album is named Compton, it is not a soundtrack to Straight Outta Compton, the new film about Dre's breakthrough years in the group N.W.A. (There is no soundtrack album for the movie.) Certainly, interest in the film helped the album's debut, and vice versa. The movie opened with $56 million earned at the U.S. and Canada box office over the Aug. 14-16 weekend.
Dre’s previous album, Dr. Dre — 2001, was released in 1999 and peaked at No. 2. It spent four nonconsecutive weeks in the runner-up slot. Dre’s first album, The Chronic, peaked at No. 3 for six nonconsecutive weeks in 1993.
Compton also debuts at No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, his third chart-topper on that list. The Chronic ruled for eight weeks and 2001 led the ranking for four frames.
Bryan and Dre’s handsome debuts are a welcome sight on the chart, following a woeful week at the top of the list. A week ago, the Descendants soundtrack opened at No. 1 with both the lowest overall unit total (42,000) for a chart-topping set, and the smallest weekly sales figure (30,000) for a No. 1 since Nielsen Music started tracking sale in 1991. This week, the Descendants album falls to No. 8 with 30,000 units (down 27 percent).
Combined, Kill the Lights and Compton moved 640,000 overall units, and sold 596,000 albums. To put those numbers in perspective, the 640,000 sum is more than the combined total of Nos. 3-32 albums on the new Billboard 200. Further, the 596,000 sales tally -- which places the albums at Nos. 1 and 2 on the Top Album Sales chart -- is greater than the Nos. 3-65 titles on the Album Sales list.
Also, this week marks the first time two albums have shifted at least 294,000 units in a week since the Billboard 200 transitioned to ranking popularity based on overall units earned in December of 2014. Previously, the closest the chart came to that distinction was on the Feb. 28, 2015-dated list, when Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late started at No. 1 with 535,000 units, followed by the debut of the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack at No. 2 with 258,000 units.
And finally, this is the first week in eight months where two albums have sold at least 275,000 copies each. It last happened on the Dec. 27, 2014-dated chart (reflecting the sales week ending Dec. 14, in the thick of the Christmas shopping season), where J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive debuted at No. 1 with 354,000 and Taylor Swift’s 1989 moved 278,000 copies at No. 2 (its seventh week on the chart).
Outside of the excitement at Nos. 1 and 2 on the new Billboard 200, there is of course other news in the Top 10.
The new Now 55 compilation debuts at No. 3 with 76,000 units (all from album sales). The arrival continues the long-running Now That’s What I Call Music series’ hit track record, as every one of the numbered Now titles have reached the Top 10.
TobyMac’s This Is Not a Test enters at No. 4 with 38,000 units (of which 35,000 are pure album sales). The album is the follow-up to TobyMac’s chart-topping Eye on It, which debuted atop the list dated Sept. 15, 2012.
On the Christian Albums chart, This Is Not a Test concurrently debuts at No. 1 -- the artist’s fourth chart-topper.
Rounding out the rest of the Top 10 on the Billboard 200: Taylor Swift’s 1989 descends 3-5 (just over 33,000 units; down 4 percent), Ed Sheeran’s X dips 4-6 (33,000; but up 10 percent), Future’s DS2 slides 2-7 (31,000; down 16 percent), Sam Hunt’s Montevallo falls 6-9 (27,000; up 1 percent) and Drake's If You're Reading This It's Too Late is steady at No. 10 (21,000; down 7 percent).