Frank Ocean's 'Blonde' Bows at No. 1 on Billboard 200 With Third-Largest Debut of 2016
Frank Ocean earns his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with the arrival of Blonde. The set, which was released on Aug. 20, bows atop the list with 276,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Aug. 25, according to Nielsen Music.
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 Sept. 10-dated chart (where Blonde bows at No. 1) will be posted in full to Billboard’s websites on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
Of Blonde’s start of 276,000 units, 232,000 were in traditional album sales, while the rest were SEA (44,000 units).
Only two albums started bigger than Blonde in 2016: Drake’s Views (1.04 million units earned in its debut frame) and Beyonce’s Lemonade (653,000). Blonde also logs the third-biggest sales start -- behind, again, just Views (852,000 copies sold in its first week) and Lemonade (485,000).
Blonde was available exclusively to stream via the Apple Music service and for sale through the iTunes Store (but only as a full album -- none of its tracks were sold a la carte). The songs on the Blonde album generated 65.4 million streams during the week. It was the second-most streamed album on the chart, behind only Drake’s Views, with 67.5 million streams.
Blonde arrived two days after Ocean released the long-form video Endless (which many have referred to as a visual album). It is available exclusive to stream via Apple Music.
Both releases are Ocean’s first full-length offerings since his debut album, Channel Orange, which came out in 2012. The set debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, and sold 131,000 copies in its first week. It was released on July 10, 2012, initially exclusively through iTunes, and a week before its advertised street date of July 17.
The bulk of Channel Orange’s first-week sales were digital, though there were some on physical CD, as brick-and-mortar retailers began selling the title mid-week following iTunes’ exclusive launch.
California was released on Blink-182’s own Viking Wizard Eyes LLC, licensed to BMG and distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA). Cleopatra was released on Dualtone Records, and the album was also distributed by ADA.
Blonde is different from both albums in that it was released by Ocean himself directly to Apple and iTunes -- bypassing a traditional distribution company. The last set to reach No. 1 in the same manner was Garth Brooks’ 2013 box set, Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences. The hefty box (six CDs and two DVDs) was issued through Brooks’ Pearl Records and sold exclusively through Walmart stores. It debuted at No. 2 with 164,000 sold, and rose to No. 1 the following week -- for one frame -- selling 146,000.
Before Brooks, Pearl Jam’s Backspacer also hit No. 1 (in 2009) without a traditional distributor. The set, which bowed with 189,000 sold, was released on the band’s Monkeywrench label, and initially sold exclusively through Target, iTunes, Pearl Jam’s website and independent retailers. Slightly less than two years earlier, Eagles flew in at No. 1 with its self-released Long Road Out of Eden, exclusively sold through Walmart. It debuted with 711,000 copies sold on the Nov. 17, 2007-dated chart.
Back on the new Billboard 200 chart, Drake’s Views holds at No. 2 with 77,000 units (up 9 percent) and the Suicide Squad soundtrack falls from No. 1 to No. 3 with 76,000 units (down 18 percent).
Tory Lanez arrives at No. 4 with his debut studio album, I Told You, earning 52,000 units (32,000 in pure album sales). The album follows a pair of top 10-charting singles for Lanez on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, where he has reached No. 10 with “Say It” and No. 9 (so far) with the still-building “Luv.” Both cuts are available on the new album, which also starts at No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Lindsey Stirling claims her second top 10 album, as her new Brave Enough launches at No. 5 with 49,000 units (45,000 in traditional album sales). It follows the violinist’s 2014 effort, Shatter Me, which debuted and peaked at No. 2 with 56,000 copies sold in its first week. The new effort also leads the Classical Albums, Classical Crossover Albums and Top Dance/Electronic Albums charts -- her third No. 1 on all three lists. The classical-meets-EDM artist previously led all three charts with Shatter Me and her self-titled debut.
Twenty One Pilots’ Blurryface dips 5-6 on the Billboard 200 (33,000 units; down 19 percent), Adele’s 25 rises one rung to No. 7 (28,000 units; down 1 percent), Rihanna’s Anti climbs 9-8 (just over 27,000 units; down 2 percent) and DJ Khaled’s Major Key slips 6-9 (27,000 units; down 19 percent). The original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton closes out the top 10, as it ascends 11-10 with 23,000 units (down 3 percent).