Lay Makes His Solo Debut on the Billboard 200 With New Album

Courtesy of Lay Zhang Studio
Lay Zhang 

The Chinese singer-songwriter marks a rare victory for M-pop on America's main albums charts.

Lay makes a major move as a solo artist and for Mandarin-pop music on the Billboard charts this week, earning his first Billboard 200 entry.

The Chinese singer-songwriter and member of EXO sees his newly released NAMANANA: 03 album debut at No. 21 on the Billboard 200 with 24,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Oct. 25, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 23,000 were in traditional album sales.

The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption as measured in equivalent album units. Units are comprised of traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new Nov. 3-dated chart -- where Lay debuts and the A Star Is Born soundtrack spends its third week at No. 1 -- will be posted in full on Billboard's websites on Tuesday, Oct. 30, along with the rest of Billboard's weekly charts dated Nov. 3.

In addition to his first Billboard 200 entry, Lay also earns his first No. 1 on the World Albums chart with NAMANANA. Lay now claims four entries on the chart, entering the chart at the top of the year with his Winter Special Gift EP (that peaked at No. 8) and scoring top 5 entries in 2017 (02 SHEEP hit No. 4) and 2016 (his Lose Control EP also peaked at No. 4). As a member of EXO, Lay has also been at No. 1 spot three times.

NAMANANA is Lay's fourth overall release, but stands out for ambitiously having all 11 tracks recorded in Mandarin Chinese and English for a 22-track project altogether. Lay had a heavy hand in the production and writing of the record that sees him involved in every track on the LP, including "Give Me a Chance" that has production and English lyrics from "Beautiful" hitmaker Bazzi. From the exuberant confidence on the title track to the slick and stealthy electro-pop on cuts like "Lay U Down" or "Mapo Tofu," the 27-year-old is keen to prove his versatility and hunger as a solo star.

Prior to this week's charts which have a flood of activity from international artists, BTS member J-Hope peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard 200 with his mixtape Hope World at the time making him the highest-charting K-pop solo artist on America's definitive albums charts at the time. With NAMANANA at No. 21, does this mean Lay can claim the title?

The answer isn't as easy as you may you think as technically Lay does come from the K-pop world, as a member of EXO and releasing music in Korea since the beginning of his career. But the NAMANANA songs were recorded in both Chinese and English, not Korean, making it hard to exactly call this "K-pop" and perhaps making Mandarin Chinese-pop, better known as "M-pop," a better term for the release.

Lay is expected to make a splash on the charts next month as well when EXO's highly anticipated comeback album Don't Mess Up My Tempo drops on Nov. 2, The release follows the band's 2017 summer album The War which hit No. 87 on the Billboard 200. EXO also sent 2015's Exodus to No. 95 on the Billboard 200.

Check back to Billboard.com on Tuesday morning when all the charts are refreshed to see the full scope of Lay's latest chart activity.