U2 Scores Eighth No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 Chart With 'Songs of Experience'
The band is now the only group with No. 1s in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.
U2 achieves its eighth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as the rock band’s new Songs of Experience debuts atop the tally. The set bows with 186,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Dec. 7, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 180,000 were in traditional album sales.
Songs of Experience nets the biggest week for a rock album in 2017, both in terms of overall units, as well as album sales. The last rock set to log a larger frame was Metallica’s Hardwired… To Self-Destruct, which launched at No. 1 on the Dec. 10, 2016-dated chart with 291,000 units, of which 282,000 were in album sales.
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 Dec. 23-dated chart (where Songs of Experience debuts at No. 1) will be posted in full on Billboard's websites on Tuesday (Dec. 12).
Songs of Experience’s debut benefits from a concert ticket/album bundle sale redemption promotion in association with the act’s 2018 Experience + Innocence Tour, which begins in May.
Songs of Experience is a companion album to the band’s last studio effort, 2014’s Songs of Innocence. The latter title was initially released as a free download exclusively through Apple’s iTunes program on Sept. 9, 2014, but was not eligible to chart until it was commercially released on Oct. 14. In its first tracking week of sales, it sold 28,000 copies, and debuted and peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200.
U2 last topped the Billboard 200 with 2009’s No Line on the Horizon, which bowed with 484,000 copies sold in its first week, according to Nielsen Music. (The Billboard 200 transitioned to a consumption units-ranked tally in late 2014.)
In total, U2 has now led the Billboard 200 with Songs of Experience, No Line on the Horizon, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004), Pop (1997), Zooropa (1993), Achtung Baby (1991), the Rattle and Hum soundtrack (1988) and The Joshua Tree (1987).
Songs of Experience is also the seventh rock album to lead the Billboard 200 in 2017, following The Killers’ Wonderful Wonderful, Foo Fighters’ Concrete and Gold, LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream, Brand New’s Science Fiction, Arcade Fire’s Everything Now and Linkin Park’s One More Light. (In all of 2016, 10 rock sets led the list.)
Also, among all acts with the most No. 1s in the history of the Billboard 200 chart, U2 is now tied with Kenny Chesney and Madonna for the sixth-most leaders (and third-most among groups). Ahead of them are The Beatles (with 19), JAY-Z (14), Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand (each with 11), Elvis Presley (10), and Garth Brooks and The Rolling Stones (both with nine). U2 is also just the fourth act — and only group — to have earned No. 1s in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, following Janet Jackson, Springsteen and Streisand.
Songs of Experience was led by the single “You’re the Best Thing About Me,” which reached No. 5 on the Hot Rock Songs tally in September, spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Adult Alternative Songs airplay chart (the act’s record-breaking 13th leader on the tally) and hit No. 21 on the Alternative Songs airplay chart (the band’s record-extending 42nd entry).
At No. 2 on the new Billboard 200, Chris Stapleton bows with his second studio effort of 2017, From a Room: Volume 2. It starts with 125,000 units, of which 116,000 were in pure album sales. It follows From a Room: Volume 1, which also opened (and peaked) at No. 2 (on the list dated May 27), with 219,000 units, of which 202,000 were in traditional album sales.
Stapleton is the first country act to notch two top-two charting albums in a calendar year on the Billboard 200 since 2013. That year, Luke Bryan claimed a pair of No. 1s with Spring Break… Here to Party and Crash My Party.
Taylor Swift’s Reputation slides to No. 3 on the new Billboard 200, after three weeks at No. 1. In its fourth week, the set collected 112,000 units (down 24 percent), with 70,000 of that figure in album sales (down 47 percent). The album’s SEA units rally by 344 percent (to 34,000 units) following the entire set’s release to streaming services on Dec. 1. Previously, only the album’s four pre-release tracks were available to stream.
Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) climbs one rung to No. 4 with 68,000 units (up 64 percent), with gains in album sales (19,000; 17 percent), TEA units (22,000; up 163 percent) and SEA units (27,000 units; up 61 percent). The set gains in the wake of the Nov. 30 release of the album’s new remix of its song “Perfect,” which is now a duet with Beyoncé.
Pentatonix’s A Pentatonix Christmas dips from No. 2 to No. 5 with 66,000 units (down 5 percent), while Demi Lovato’s Tell Me You Love Me (which debuted at its No. 3 peak in October) vaults from No. 21 to No. 6 with 63,000 units (up 168 percent), of which 46,000 were in traditional album sales (up 340 percent). Lovato’s album sales benefit from a concert ticket/album bundle sale redemption promotion with Lovato’s upcoming tour with DJ Khaled.
Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All falls from No. 3 to No. 7 on the Billboard 200 with 47,000 units (down 24 percent), while Michael Bublé’s Christmas climbs from No. 9 to No. 8 with 42,000 units (up 24 percent).
Miguel’s new War & Leisure bows at No. 9 with 40,000 units (16,000 in album sales), marking the R&B singer-songwriter’s third top 10 effort. He previously visited the region with Wildheart (No. 2 in 2015) and Kaleidoscope Dream (No. 3 in 2012). Like U2 and Lovato, Miguel also generated sales from a ticket/album bundle promotion for his upcoming tour.
Rounding out the top 10 is Garth Brooks’ The Anthology: Part I, The First Five Years, which falls from No. 4 to No. 10 with 40,000 units (down 30 percent).