'Fifty Shades Darker' Soundtrack Set for No. 1 Debut on Billboard 200 Albums Chart
Plus: Big Grammy gains expected from Adele, Beyoncé and the Trump-dress-wearing Joy Villa
The soundtrack to the film Fifty Shades Darker is bound for a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 albums chart, according to industry forecasters. Those in the know say the album could earn perhaps 135,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Feb. 16, which should easily grant the set a chart-topping bow. The multi-artist album, which boasts Zayn and Taylor Swift’s hit single “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” was released Feb. 10 through Republic Records.
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 top 10 of the new March 4, 2017-dated Billboard 200 chart (where Fifty Shades Darker could debut at No. 1) is scheduled to be revealed on Billboard’s websites on Sunday, Feb. 19.
Fifty Shades Darker is the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, which saw its companion soundtrack debut and peak at No. 2 on the chart dated Feb. 28, 2015. The set has earned 2.3 million equivalent album units, of which 922,000 are in traditional album sales. The album launched a pair of top 10-charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100: The Weeknd’s “Earned It” and Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do,” which both peaked at No. 3 on the list.
If Fifty Shades Darker opens at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, it will be the first soundtrack to lead the tally since the Suicide Squad album spent two weeks atop the list (Aug. 27-Sept. 3, 2016).
Elsewhere in next week’s top 10, watch for a number of Grammy Awards-fueled gains, including expected increases for Adele’s 25, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic and The Weeknd’s Starboy. All four acts performed on the awards show, which was broadcast live on Feb. 12. Former No. 1s 25 (which won album of the year) and Lemonade could return to the top 10, with perhaps 45,000 and 40,000 units, respectively (up from 20,000 and 13,000, in the week ending Feb. 9). 24K Magic could see a mighty gain, rising from 32,000 units to perhaps 55,000 units. On the Grammy Awards, Mars performed the album’s current single, “That’s What I Like,” and celebrated Prince with a performance of “Let’s Go Crazy.” As for The Weeknd -- who performed two Starboy cuts on the Grammy Awards: the title track and “I Feel It Coming,” both with Daft Punk -- his album could rise from 47,000 units to north of 50,000.
In other Grammy Awards news, singer Joy Villa -- who turned heads on the show’s red carpet by wearing a dress emblazoned with President Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” -- has a chance of debuting straight into the top 10 with her 2014 album I Make the Static. On Feb. 12 and 13, the album sold around 15,000 copies (according to Nielsen Music) -- up from a negligible figure in the days leading up to the Grammys. Forecasters suggest that if the album continues to be a surprisingly hot seller, it could move more than 35,000 copies for the week, which could enable a top 10 debut (and grant Villa her first Billboard chart entry).
Based on reviews in the iTunes Store, it appears the album is generating sales largely from Trump supporters previously unaware of the artist. Reviews include sentiments like “thank you for supporting TRUMP!! Will buy now! Thanks!,” “I’m buying the album just because of the dress. Way to go girl!” and “I don’t know this artist, but it doesn’t matter. I am supporting her bravery on Grammy night for standing for what she believes, whether others agree or not.”