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).
From April 21 through April 28, Prince’s catalog of albums and songs sold a staggering 4.41 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music. (In the tracking week before his death, Prince’s music sold comparably little: just 5,000 albums and 14,000 song downloads in the week ending April 15.)
Album by Album: The Very Best of Prince greatest-hits collection is pushed down one spot on the May 14 Billboard 200 chart to No. 2 with 391,000 units (though it gains by 118 percent) and 216,000 copies sold (up 116 percent). (Why was the set pushed down despite its huge gain? Beyonce’s Lemonade album debuted at No. 1.)
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The Purple Rain soundtrack is also forced backward but with a gain, as it moves 2-3 with 150,000 units (up 117 percent) and 133,000 copies sold (up 113 percent).
Two more of Prince’s greatest-hits albums rank in the top 10: The Hits/The B-Sides hits a new peak, as it climbs 6-4 with 106,000 units (up 159 percent) and 56,000 in sales (up 134 percent), while Ultimate also zooms to a new peak, 61-6, with 40,000 units (up 319 percent) and 37,000 in sales (up 317 percent).
With Ultimate’s rise into the top 10 for the first time, it marks Prince’s 19th top 10 album.
One more Prince album features in the latest top 10: his fifth studio effort, 1999. It climbs 31-7 -- a new chart high -- with 36,000 units (up 154 percent) and 33,000 in sales (up 149 percent). 1999 previously peaked at No. 9 in 1983.
Prince is the first act to concurrently chart five albums in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 since 1963, when the chart merged its previously separate mono and stereo albums charts into one overall list.
An important note on the above chart feat: Presently, the Billboard 200 ranks the week's most popular albums in the U.S. -- regardless of their age. (All five of Prince’s albums in the top 10 are regarded as catalog, a term used to define those albums generally 18 months old.) The Billboard 200 has charted both new and catalog albums since the Dec. 5, 2009-dated tally, when the chart’s rules were revised to allow catalog titles onto the list. Previously, only new and recently released albums (referred to as current titles) could chart.
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Had the Billboard 200 allowed catalog albums to chart previous to Dec. 5, 2009, both Michael Jackson and The Beatles would have claimed five simultaneous top 10 titles that year.
On the now-defunct Top Comprehensive Albums chart (which ranked both new and old albums), Jackson posthumously claimed six out of the top 10 in two weeks after his death in 2009 (on the July 25 and Aug. 1, 2009-dated charts). Later that year, after The Beatles remastered and reissued its studio albums on CD, the band earned five of the top 10 (Sept. 26, 2009).
More Prince Chart Action: Over on the Top Album Sales chart -- which ranks the top-selling albums of the week based purely on traditional album sales -- Prince also has five titles in the top 10. He’s at Nos. 2-6 with The Very Best of Prince, Purple Rain, The Hits/The B-Sides, Ultimate and 1999, respectively. That’s the first time five out of the six top-selling albums of the week have been by one artist.
Previously, Jackson claimed six out of the top 10 (twice) in a pair of weeks following his death in 2009. Later that same year, The Beatles notched five out of the top 10 after their catalog was remastered and reissued on CD.
Prince Has Entire Top 10 on Catalog Albums Chart: Prince’s albums also make a historic showing on the latest Top Catalog Albums chart: He owns the entire top 10 (a first) and a record 20 titles on the 50-position list. (Previously, The Beatles held the record for the most simultaneous titles on the chart, with 16 in four weeks back in 2009.)
The nearly 25-year-old Top Catalog Albums chart is also a sales-based list, like the Top Album Sales chart, but the Top Catalog Albums tally is for older titles (generally those released at least 18 months ago).