BTS' 'Love Yourself: Tear' Becomes First K-Pop Album to Hit No. 1 on Billboard 200 Chart

It’s a big week for K-pop, as Korean boy band BTS debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with Love Yourself: Tear -- the first chart-topper for the K-pop genre.

The set, which was released through BitHit Entertainment on May 18, launches with 135,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending May 24, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 100,000 were in traditional album sales.

The set launches at No. 1 on the listed dated June 2, and the chart will post in full to Billboard’s websites on Wednesday, May 30.  

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).

Here’s a look at some of the chart achievements BTS has earned with the arrival of Love Yourself: Tear:

First No. 1 Album for K-Pop: Love Yourself: Tear is the first K-pop album to lead the Billboard 200. It’s also only the second top 10 for the K-pop genre, following BTS’ own Love Yourself: Her, which peaked at No. 7 in 2017.

Biggest Unit & Sales Week Ever for K-Pop: Love Yourself: Tear also logs the biggest week yet for K-pop, both in overall units and traditional album sales. The previous high-water mark was earned by BTS, as well, with Love Yourself: Her, when it debuted and peaked at No. 7 on the Oct. 7, 2017-dated list with 31,000 units in its opening frame and 18,000 of those in traditional album sales.

First Foreign Language No. 1 Album Since 2006: Notably, as Love Yourself: Tear is performed mostly in the Korean language, it’s the first primarily foreign-language No. 1 album in over 12 years. In 2006 classical crossover vocal quartet Il Divo topped the list with Ancora (on the chart dated Feb. 11, 2006), which blends songs performed in Spanish, Italian and French, along with a track sung partially in English.

First World Music Album at No. 1 on Billboard 200: For genre-classification purposes, K-pop is considered world music, and titles within the K-pop genre also chart on the World Albums chart. Love Yourself: Tear also starts at No. 1 on the World Albums chart, and marks the group’s sixth No. 1 on the tally. (World albums can include titles that feature Hawaiian, Cuban, Celtic, European, Asian, Middle-Eastern, African, and South American music, in addition to any other music style that is native to lands outside of the contiguous United States.) BTS’ Love Yourself: Tear is the first Billboard 200 No. 1 also to chart on the World Albums tally.

Second-Biggest Week for a Group in 2018: With 135,000 units earned, Love Yourself: Tear logs the second-biggest week for an album by a group in 2018, trailing only the No. 1 debut of Migos’ Culture II (199,000 units; Feb. 10).

Interestingly, BTS tops the Billboard 200 after having notched only two previous entries on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart (through the list dated May 26). That’s the first time that an artist has achieved a first No. 1 album with so few Hot 100 hits since last October, when rapper NF bowed at No. 1 with Perception (Oct. 28, 2017) without earning any previous Hot 100 entries.

It’s not like BTS and NF were unsuccessful within their respective genres before their No. 1 debuts. BTS has tallied 57 entries on the World Digital Song Sales chart (K-pop is classified as world music, alongside other country-specific genres), while NF had logged 27 hits on the Hot Christian Songs chart, before he started to cross over to pop audiences with Perception (and his eventual No. 1 Pop Songs airplay chart hit, the Perception single “Let You Down”).

The common thread between BTS and NF is their dedicated fan bases, which both turned out during release week to propel the acts’ respective albums to No. 1. (And, certainly in NF’s case, his album arrived to market in a very uncompetitive week -- the set launched with just 55,000 units. That was the smallest sum for a No. 1-debuting album in 2017 and the fifth-smallest unit total for a No. 1 album overall since the chart began ranking titles by consumption units in late 2014.)

Speaking of BTS’ fan base: while the group's presence on U.S. radio has been low-key (with zero hits on the all-genre Radio Songs chart, and just one entry on the Pop Songs chart, the No. 25-peaking “Mic Drop”), the group's fans have been incredibly socially engaged. BTS has been No. 1 for 75 nonconsecutive weeks on the Social 50 chart, which measures the most popular music acts -- globally -- on social networks. On May 20, the group took home its second Billboard Music Award in a row for the fan-voted Top Social Artist category. And, the act performed on the BBMAs, singing “Fake Love,” from Love Yourself: Tear. (Incredibly, BTS fans in the arena -- as heard on NBC’s TV broadcast -- were audibly louder than the fans of any other act on the show.)

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