Eric Church’s “The Outsiders” debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 288,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
It’s the largest sales week of the year, and the biggest since Beyonce’s self-titled album sold 310,000 in its second week of release last December. It’s also Church’s best frame ever.
“The Outsiders” is Church’s fourth studio album and second No. 1, following his last studio effort, 2011’s “Chief.” The latter bowed with 145,000 — his previous best sales week. (In between “Chief” and “The Outsiders,” Church released the live album “Caught in the Act: Live,” which debuted and peaked at No. 5.)
“The Outsiders” also logs the biggest week for a country album since Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” debuted at No. 1 with 528,000 on Aug. 31, 2013.
Church’s album is the only new arrival in the top 10 of the Billboard 200. The next-highest debut belongs to The Glitch Mob’s second album, “Love Death Immortality,” at No. 13 with 22,000. It’s the electronic act’s best week yet and its first appearance on the Billboard 200. It previously reached No. 39 on the Heatseekers Albums chart with its first album, 2010’s “Drink the Sea.”
The hit soundtrack to Frozen continues to chill near the top of the Billboard 200, as it holds at No. 2 with 100,000 (up 13%). Year-to-date sales now stand at 714,000 (through the week ending Feb. 16), and the soundtrack is 2014’s best-selling album. A distant second is Beyonce, with 454,000.
A year ago, the top-selling album was Mumford & Sons’ “Babel,” with 459,000. Scroll back to 2012, and Adele’s blockbuster “21” was riding high, having sold 1.5 million through the week ending Feb. 19, 2012.
What was the last soundtrack to be the top-selling album of the year in mid-February? “Titanic,” in 1998.
Through the SoundScan week ending Feb. 15, 1998, the Titanic soundtrack had sold 3.5 million copies that year. Behind it at No. 2 was Celine Dion’s “Let’s Talk About Love,” with 1.9 million. The common thread between the two albums was Dion’s hit single, “My Heart Will Go On,” which was written for the film. It appeared on both albums.
On Feb. 28, 1998 (which mirrored the SoundScan week ending Feb. 15), “My Heart Will Go On” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent its fourth week atop the Mainstream Top 40 airplay tally. It ultimately spent a total of 10 weeks atop the latter list. About a month later, on March 23, “My Heart Will Go On” won the Academy Award for best original song.
Fast-forward to 2014, and “Frozen”‘s signature song, “Let It Go,” is up for best original song. (It has a good chance of winning the Oscar for songwriters Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.) “Frozen” still isn’t the airplay hit that “My Heart Will Go On” was, having yet to dent the Mainstream Top 40 chart. That said, “Let It Go” has already reached the top 20 on the Hot 100 and the Streaming Songs chart, and is scaling the Adult Contemporary airplay tally. On the lattermost chart, it rises 25-24 this week.
“Titanic” would go on to finish 1998 as the year’s top-selling album, shifting 9.3 million that year (of its total 10.2 million). It’s one of only two soundtracks to sell in excess of 10 million since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991. The other is “The Bodyguard,” with 12.1 million.
Could “Frozen” finish 2014 as the year’s top seller? Maybe, but having a soundtrack top the year-end charts is rare. In SoundScan history (through 1992, the first full year of sales data), only three soundtracks have become the year’s top-selling album: “The Bodyguard” (1993, 5.5 million), “The Lion King” (1994, 4.9 million) and the TV soundtrack to “High School Musical” (2006, 3.7 million).