Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” album debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 1,108,000 copies sold in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It’s only the 17th album to sell a million in a week since SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991, and the highest sales week since 2005.
“Born This Way” also marks Gaga’s first No. 1 album — “The Fame” debut peaked at No. 2, while “The Fame Monster” EP reached No. 5 and dance effort “The Remix” hit No. 6.
“Born This Way” reaps the largest sales week of any album since 50 Cent’s “The Massacre” did 1,141,000 in its first week, in March of 2005. The last time we had a million-plus frame was when Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” premiered at No. 1 with 1,047,000 in November of 2010. The SoundScan-era record week is held by NSYNC’s “No Strings Attached,” when it debuted at No. 1 with 2,416,000 in 2000.
Additionally, Gaga is only the fifth woman to notch a million-plus week. The record frame for a woman is held by the bow of Britney Spears’ “Oops! I Did It Again,” which started with 1,319,000 upon its release in May of 2000. “The Bodyguard” soundtrack, driven mostly by Whitney Houston songs, was the first SoundScan-era album to shift a million, and it did so over the busy Christmas shopping week of 1992 (1,061,000). Later, Norah Jonas’ “Feels Like Home” debuted with 1,022,000 in 2004, and then the aforementioned Swift sizzled just last year.
While there wasn’t any doubt as to whether Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” album would debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — that’s been an assumption for months — its first-week number was always in question. A month ago, executives at Gaga’s record company, Universal Music Group, were expecting a first week total of around 400,000.
That number escalated to 650,000-700,000 by its release on Monday, May 23 — the same day AmazonMP3 announced its controversial decision to sell the album for 99-cents for one day only. By last Wednesday (May 25), sources indicated that a million-unit week seemed quite plausible. Once Amazon opted to again sell the set for 99-cents on Thursday, May 26, “Born This Way’s” million-unit week was all but guaranteed. It’s estimated that Amazon sold upwards of 440,000 downloads of its 99-cent “Born This Way” album.
Gaga’s total downloads haul from all digital retailers was 662,000 — the biggest week for a digital album in SoundScan history. It represents 60% of the set’s overall first week.
A full recap of the week’s top 10 selling albums and digital songs will follow on Wednesday morning (June 1).