Black Panther: The Album debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, launching with 154,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Feb. 15, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 52,000 are in traditional album sales.
The set, which features music from and inspired by the blockbuster Marvel Studios film Black Panther, garners the biggest week for a soundtrack — in terms of total units earned — in a year-and-a-half. The last soundtrack to score a larger week was Suicide Squad: The Album, which bowed atop the Aug. 27, 2016-dated list with 182,000 units earned. Black Panther: The Album was released on Feb. 9 through Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope Records.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new Feb. 24-dated chart (where Black Panther: The Album starts at No. 1) will be posted in full on Billboard's websites on Wednesday (Feb. 21) — one day later than usual, due to the Presidents’ Day holiday in the U.S. on Feb. 19.
The Black Panther album includes a number of songs by Kendrick Lamar, who curated and produced the hip-hop-heavy album with Top Dawg Entertainment’s founder/CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith. The set’s tunes also boast contributions from The Weeknd, SZA, Khalid and James Blake, among others. The album is the fifth No. 1 for Top Dawg, following a trio of leaders from Lamar (DAMN., untitled unmastered. and To Pimp a Butterfly) and ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron.
Black Panther is the second soundtrack to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2018, following The Greatest Showman, which spent two weeks atop the list (dated Jan. 13 and 20).
The 14-track Black Panther album’s debut is powered mostly by streams, as the set collected 93,000 streaming equivalent album units. (The remainder of its bow came from traditional album sales: 52,000; and track equivalent album units: 9,000.) It’s not unusual to see such a large streaming number for Black Panther: The Album, as hip-hop albums tend to perform well on streaming services.
Black Panther: The Album’s 93,000 SEA unit launch equates to 138.9 million on-demand audio streams for the album’s songs in the week ending Feb. 15. That’s the largest streaming week ever for a soundtrack, surging past the 40.4 million on-demand audio streams The Greatest Showman collected in the week ending Jan. 25.
Of Black Panther: The Album’s 14 songs, three are heard in the Black Panther film. According to Top Dawg and Walt Disney Studios (Marvel’s parent company), this is the first time in Marvel Cinematic Universe history that Marvel Studios has integrated multiple original recordings specifically for a film. (The Marvel Cinematic Universe includes 18 films that have been released thus far, stretching back to Iron Man in 2008.)
Black Panther: The Album isn’t the first chart-topping soundtrack set to consist mostly of music inspired by a film, with few tracks actually heard in its companion movie. It follows similar albums such as The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond (2012) and Men in Black: The Album (1997).
At No. 2 on the new Billboard 200, Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods falls a spot in its second week on the list, with 74,000 units (down 75 percent). The Greatest Showman soundtrack holds steady at No. 3 with 72,000 units (down 10 percent), while Migos’ Culture II slips from No. 2 to No. 4 with 68,000 units (down 23 percent).
The soundtrack to Fifty Shades Freed bows at No. 5 with 58,000 units (of which 36,000 are in traditional album sales). It’s the third soundtrack in the Fifty Shades film trilogy to reach the top five, following Fifty Shades Darker (No. 1 in 2017) and Fifty Shade of Grey (No. 2 in 2015). Fifty Shades Freed features songs by Liam Payne, Rita Ora, Julia Michaels, Jessie J and Sia.
With Black Panther: The Album, The Greatest Showman and Fifty Shades Freed at Nos. 1, 3 and 5, the chart houses a trio of soundtracks in the top five for only the second time in the last 10 years. The only other time three soundtracks have populated the top five in the last 10 years was on the May 30, 2015-dated list, when Pitch Perfect 2 debuted at No. 1, Fifty Shades of Grey moved 6-3 and Furious 7 rose 7-5.
Back on the new Billboard 200, Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) is pushed down 4-6, despite a gain, as it earns 42,000 units (up 5 percent). Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic falls 5-7 with 32,000 units (down 7 percent), Post Malone’s Stoney descends 6-8 with 31,000 units (down 4 percent) and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. dips 7-9 with just under 31,000 units (down 5 percent). Camila Cabello’s Camila closes out the top 10, moving 8-10 with 29,000 units (down 9 percent).