Led by Kanye West's Yeezus, all of the top four albums on the Billboard 200 this week are new entries. West's Yeezus arrives with 327,000 -- the third-largest sales week of the year. It's bested only by the debuts of Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience (968,000) and Daft Punk's Random Access Memories (339,000).
J. Cole's Born Sinner enters at No. 2 this week with 297,000, his best sales week yet. It's the largest debut at No. 2 since the Dec. 11, 2010, chart, when Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday bowed with 375,000. Coincidentally, she was stuck behind a debut from West as well. That week, his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy launched at No. 1 with 496,000.
Behind Cole this week is the third rap debut in the top three: Mac Miller's Watching Movies With the Sound Off, starting at No. 3 with 102,000.
Kelly Rowland's fourth studio album, Talk a Good Game, is the fourth and final arrival in the top 10. It lands at No. 4 with 68,000, marking her third 10 set. The arrival is Rowland's smallest start, dipping below the 77,000 that launched her last album, 2011's No. 3-debuting Here I Am.
But let's get back to West. The sales launch for Yeezus is softer than industry sources had forecast. On the Friday before its release (June 14), it had been tipped to start with perhaps 500,000. However, a week later, its sales projection had fallen to 330,000 to 340,000.
On the other hand, Cole blew past expectations, selling about 100,000 copies more than the 150,000 to 200,000 that was forecast on June 14. Even better, its start is larger than the projection made on the day after its release on June 18, when insiders said it could do 270,000 to 290,000.
As for Miller, his album starts on target with forecasts made on June 19. However, his bow is smaller than that of his last release, 2011's No. 1-debuting Blue Slide Park (144,000).
With West, Cole and Miller all starting north of 100,000, it's the first time since November 2006 that three rap albums have debuted with sales that exceed 100,000. That Thanksgiving week saw the release of Jay-Z's Kingdom Come (680,000 sold first week), Snoop Dogg's Tha Blue Carpet Treatment (264,000) and 2Pac's Pac's Life (159,000).
This is also the first week since last October where two albums -- regardless of their genre -- started with more than 200,000. It last happened on the Nov. 10-dated chart (reflecting the sales week ending Oct. 28). That week, Taylor Swift's Red arrived with 1.2 million while Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D City started with 241,000.
As for the rest of the top 10 this week, last week's No. 1, Black Sabbath's 13, falls to No. 5 with 46,000 (down 71%). Daft Punk's Random Access Memories slips 2-6 with 40,000 (down 17%). Hunter Hayes' Hunter Hayes flies 80-7 for its highest chart rank yet, following the album's deluxe reissue on June 18. With nearly 40,000 sold (up 539%), it’s also the set's second-largest sales frame. It sold slightly more (exceeding 40,000) during Christmas week last year.
Rounding out the top 10 albums: Florida Georgia Line's Here's to the Good Times, which is pushed back 5-8 with 33,000 (down less than 1%). Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience slides 3-9 with 32,000 (down 8%) and Imagine Dragons' Night Visions rises 11-10 with 26,000 (down 7%).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," featuring T.I. and Pharrell, remains at No. 1, earning the largest sales week of 2013: 424,000 downloads. It's the biggest week for a song since the week ending Dec. 30, 2012. That week, two songs sold more: Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" (582,000) and Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" (497,000). Both tunes profited from the redemption of digital music store gift cards received for the Christmas holiday on Dec. 25.
At No. 2 on the Digital Songs chart this week is Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise," rising one spot to No. 2 with 244,000 (up 19%). Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" falls a rung to No. 3 with 231,000 (though it’s up by 11%).
Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," featuring Pharrell Williams, remains at No. 4 with 205,000 (up 5%). Bruno Mars' "Treasure" rallies 12-5 with 185,000 (up 71%) and its best sales week and chart rank yet. The song profits from its performance by Mars on NBC's "The Voice" on June 18.
The music video premiere of Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" helps the song's sales surge by 74%. The cut rebounds 17-6 with 161,000 in its third week. It debuted with 214,000 at No. 3 and then fell to 93,000 last week.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Can't Hold Us," featuring Ray Dalton, descends 5-7 with 151,000 (down 5%), and Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light 'Em Up)" climbs 10-8 with 115,000 (up 2%). Blake Shelton's "Boys 'Round Here" falls 6-9 with 115,000 (down 15%), and Selena Gomez's "Come & Get It" dips 8-10 with 113,000 (down 12%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending June 23) totaled 5.5 million units, up 5% compared with the sum last week (5.3 million) and down 7% compared with the comparable sales week of 2012 (6 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 137 million, down 5% compared to the same total at this point last year (144.7 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 26.5 million downloads, up 3% compared with last week (25.6 million) and up 5% stacked next to the comparable week of 2012 (25.2 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 657 million, down 2% compared to the same total at this point last year (672.7 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2012 when: Linkin Park's Living Things debuted at No. 1 with 223,000, barely ahead of Maroon 5's also-arriving Overexposed, at No. 2 with 222,000. The previous week's No. 1, Justin Bieber's Believe, fell to No. 3 with 115,000 (down 69%).