This Is What the Truth Feels Like was released on March 18 through Interscope Records and is Stefani’s first solo album since 2006’s The Sweet Escape, which debuted and peaked at No. 3 (243,000 sold in its first week). Prior to that, she reached No. 5 in 2005 with Love. Angel. Music. Baby., which was released in 2004 (bowing with 309,000 sold in its first week).
The new album is supported by its current single, “Make Me Like You,” which recently reached the top 30 of the Pop Songs airplay chart.
Stefani is, of course, also the lead singer of the band No Doubt, which previously topped the Billboard 200 with its breakthrough album, Tragic Kingdom. The set -- No Doubt's first to reach the list -- led the chart for nine nonconsecutive weeks in 1996 and 1997. The group has since clocked five more charting efforts, including four that hit the top 10.
With Stefani’s solo No. 1, she joins an exclusive club of artists that first reached No. 1 as part of a band or group, and then later earned their own solo leader. (In fact, she's one of only five women to achieve the feat.)
She stands alongside artists like Beyonce, who has five solo No. 1s, in addition to a pair of leaders with the group Destiny's Child. (The group notched chart-toppers in 2001 and 2005; Beyonce's No. 1s happened in 2003, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2013.)
Other solo/group No. 1 combos include: Eric Clapton and Blind Faith and Cream; John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival; George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney (including No. 1s with Wings, as well as solo) of The Beatles; Lauryn Hill and Fugees; Janis Joplin of Big Brother & the Holding Company; George Michael and Wham!; Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac; Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel; Justin Timberlake and *NSYNC; Steve Winwood and Blind Faith; and Neil Young of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Rob Thomas and Bobby Brown are almost in that group, but they notched their No. 1s in reverse order. Thomas' solo No. 1 came in 2005, well after Matchbox Twenty’s 1997 chart debut, but before the band got its first No. 1 in 2012. As for Brown, he earned his solo No. 1 in 1989, years after New Edition's chart debut, but before the group scored its first No. 1, in 1996, with Home Again.
Also worth noting: Eminem has led the list seven times as a soloist between 2000 and 2013, and also visited the top twice as part of the group D12 in 2001 and 2004, and once with Bad Meets Evil in 2011
Elsewhere on the new Billboard 200 chart, Jordan Smith debuts at No. 2 with Something Beautiful (54,000 units; 52,000 in pure album sales). Smith is the most recent winner of NBC’s reality competition series The Voice.
Smith earns the highest charting album and best sales week ever for a contestant from The Voice, surpassing, respectively, the No. 6 peak of both Melanie Martinez’s Cry Baby and Sawyer Fredericks’ The Voice: The Complete Season 8 Collection (both in 2015), and the opening sales week of Cassadee Pope’s Frame by Frame (43,000).
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Rihanna’s Anti slips from No. 1 to No. 3 with 52,000 units (down 3 percent), Adele’s 25 moves 2-4 (51,000 units; up less than 1 percent), Justin Bieber’s Purpose dips 3-5 (47,000 units; down 3 percent), Chris Stapleton’s Traveller rises 7-6 (33,000 units; down 4 percent) and Twenty One Pilots’ Blurryface is up 8-7 (32,000 units; down 1 percent).
The soundtrack to Fox TV’s live special The Passion: New Orleans bows at No. 8 with 31,000 units (28,000 copies sold). It’s the first top 10-charting TV soundtrack since Disney Channel’s Descendants debuted at No. 1 on the chart dated Aug. 22, 2015 with 42,000 units (and 30,000 copies sold).
Country singer Kane Brown debuts at No. 9 with his new Chapter I (EP), his first release through Zone 4/RCA Nashville. It launches with 30,000 units (23,000 copies sold). Brown previously reached No. 40 with his self-released Closer EP, which has sold 38,000 copies since its release last June.
Joey + Rory’s Hymns rounds out the new Billboard 200’s top 10, as it descends 4-10 with 27,000 units (down 38 percent).
(Note: This story was updated at 2:39 p.m. PST on March 29 to adjust revised unit and sales information for Kane Brown's album.)