It might surprise some pop and hip-hop fans to see Megan Thee Stallion — one of the most recognizable artists from the past half-decade of popular music, one responsible for multiple massive hits and culture-dominating catchphrases — debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 albums chart this week (dated Aug. 27) with her Traumazine set, three spots below the much less crossover-visible Rod Wave’s new Beautiful Mind LP.
Fact of the matter is, though, despite her major successes — which include two No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100 — Megan has never scored a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. While the Houston rapper has pop hits and a public profile the likes of which an artist like Rod Wave (who previously topped the Billboard 200 with 2021’s Soulfly) can currently only dream of, the latter is the artist who streams in greater volume when it comes to full albums: Beautiful Mind racked up 157.753 million on-demand official U.S. streams for its 24 tracks in its debut week, while Traumazine managed 85.72 million on-demand official streams for its 18 tracks over the same period, according to Luminate.
Megan’s far from the only major star right now lacking a Billboard 200-topping LP on their resumé, though. Here are 10 of the biggest names of recent years who’ve yet to reach pole position on the chart, in no particular order.
Future Nostalgia has obviously gone on to be one of the defining pop albums of the young 2020s, spawning a pair of No. 2 Hot 100 hits (including the 2021 Year-End Hot 100 topping “Levitating”) and spending 124 weeks on the Billboard 200 to date — still ranking in the chart’s top 50 as of posting. But its start was a little more modest, as the set debuted at No. 3 with 66,000 equivalent album units — though that was still easily Dua Lipa‘s best showing on the chart to that point, with her self-titled 2017 debut only reaching No. 27 on the listing.
Another of the most ubiquitous pop artists of the decade so far, Doja Cat broke out in 2020 with the Hot 100-topping “Say So” and just kept growing her momentum through 2021 and 2022, with her 2021 Planet Her album becoming the first LP since Taylor Swift’s 1989 to spawn five separate top five Pop Airplay hits. But like Future Nostalgia, none of Planet Her‘s singles reached the Hot 100’s apex, and neither did Planet Her itself on the Billboard 200 — its 109,000-unit entrance in July 2021 was bested by Tyler, the Creator, whose Call Me If You Get Lost moved 169,000 units.
Jack Harlow has been one of the past year’s breakout stars, with two Hot 100 No. 1s to his name — first alongside Lil Nas X on “Industry Baby” in late 2021, and then as a solo lead with his “First Class” this spring. It might’ve added up to a No. 1 album for Harlow, too, but “First Class” parent album Come Home the Kids Miss You had the misfortune of competing with Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti blockbuster in its first week and Future’s well-received I Never Liked You in its second frame, and thus had to settle for a No. 3 debut, despite its six-figure (113,000 units) bow.
Another artist with a couple of Hot 100 No. 1s to her name — in this case, both as solo leads, with “Truth Hurts” in 2019 and “About Damn Time” earlier this summer — but no Billboard 200-toppers. Lizzo‘s Cuz I Love You debuted at No. 6 in 2019 (before “Truth,” released earlier as a single but ultimately added to the set’s deluxe version, had really started to take off), while this year’s Special bowed at No. 2, with its 69,000 units blocked by Bad Bunny’s still-rolling Un Verano Sin Ti set.
Dan + Shay
Likely the most popular duo in country music right now, Dan + Shay have racked up plenty of award wins and hit singles over the course of four albums in the past eight years, with enough of a following to headline an arena tour. Surprisingly, the Billboard 200’s top five has remained just out of reach for the pair, with three of their four studio sets (2014’s Where It All Began, 2018’s Dan + Shay and 2021’s Good Things) peaking at No. 6, and the fourth (2016’s Obsessed) reaching No. 8.
She’s got an album of the year Grammy, but not yet a No. 1 album. Kacey Musgraves‘ awards season-dominating Golden Hour was actually only her third-highest-charting album at the time of its release in 2018, debuting at No. 4 — two spots below 2013 debut Same Trailer Different Park and one below 2015 sophomore LP Pageant Material. The country singer-songwriter’s Golden Hour follow-up, 2021’s Star-Crossed, matched Pageant Material‘s No. 3 peak, with its 77,000-unit bow leaving it still stuck behind the back-to-back blockbuster releases of Drake’s Certified Lover Boy and Ye’s Donda.
One of the biggest stars of the EDM era of the early 2010s, Calvin Harris also found success in the late 2010s pivoting to a slower and groovier (and more guest-heavy) mode, with 2017’s Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 becoming his best showing on the Billboard 200 to date with its No. 2 (66,000 units) debut. Any hopes that the set’s long-awaited Vol. 2 sequel could do the original one better on the chart were likely dashed by the underwhelming commercial returns of the LP’s pre-release singles (only one, the Dua Lipa and Young Thug triple-teamup “Potion,” even hit the Hot 100, peaking at No. 71) — and indeed, it entered the chart at No. 17 on the chart dated Aug. 20, plummeting to No. 166 the following week.
Another Grammy darling, H.E.R. actually has more album of the year nominations (three) than she has official full-length albums (one), with her EP collections H.E.R. and I Used to Love Her both receiving the recognition (in 2018 and 2020, respectively) before her 2021 LP debut Back of My Mind made it three total nods in the marquee category. But despite the nominations, and despite becoming an R&B radio and live fixture, H.E.R.’s best showing on the chart is still the No. 6 debut for Back of My Mind in June 2021.
Jhené Aiko‘s 2020 set Chilombo, also a Grammy nominee for album of the year, was both the most successful and most acclaimed of her nearly decade-long run as an R&B star, beating out the No. 3 peak for her 2014 debut LP Souled Out. The album still topped out at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, though, with its resounding 152,000-unit entrance overshadowed by the 288,000-unit bow of Lil Uzi Vert’s long-anticipated Eternal Atake set the same week in March 2020.
Megan Thee Stallion
And finally, of course, there’s Megan Thee Stallion, who has never quite had the right timing with her signature singles for a No. 1 album to follow. “Hot Girl Summer” came in 2019 without an album to accompany it, 2020’s “Savage” didn’t hit its commercial peak until well after the release of parent EP Suga that March (and was helped substantially by a Beyoncé-featuring remix not found on the set), and her Hot 100-topping Cardi B teamup “WAP” from later that year was left off her Good News album that followed in November. (This month’s Traumazine did not produce such a hit among its advance tracks, though Dua Lipa collab “Sweetest Pie” and solo single “Plan B” both reached the Hot 100’s top 30.) Good News is still the closest Megan’s come to topping the chart, debuting at No. 2 with just over 100,000 units — not enough to compete with the 242,000 units moved by BTS’ Be the same week.