It’s official: Mumford & Sons‘ “Babel” has earned the biggest debut of any album this year in the U.S.
The group’s second album sold 600,000 in its first week — according to Nielsen SoundScan — and becomes the rock quartet’s first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It’s also the first No. 1 for its record label, Glassnote Records.
Here are some of the amazing statistics on “Babel’s” first week:
Largest Debut Sales Week of 2012: With 600,000 sold, “Babel” easily trumps the first-week racked by Justin Bieber‘s “Believe” (374,000), which had owned the largest debut of the year until now. “Believe” falls to second place in terms of the 2012’s biggest starts, followed by Madonna‘s “MDNA” (359,000) and P!nk‘s “The Truth About Love” (280,000).
Biggest Sales Week for a Rock Album Since 2008: The album notches the best week for a rock set since AC/DC‘s “Black Ice” bowed at No. 1 with 784,000 on the Nov. 8, 2008 chart.
Mumford & Sons has scored four top 10 singles on the Alternative airplay chart and its current single, “I Will Wait,” reaches No. 1 on the Rock Songs airplay tally this week. The group’s debut album, “Sigh No More,” spent six weeks atop the Rock Albums chart and has been a near-constant presence on the tally since it was released in February of 2010.
Biggest Sales Week for RED Distribution: “Babel’s” bow garners RED Distribution its largest sales week ever. It surpasses the 394,000 that was racked by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “The Art of War” (Ruthless/Relativity) in its No. 1 debut on the chart dated Aug. 16, 1997. (“Babel” was released on Gentlemen of the Road/Glassnote Records and distributed by RED Distribution — Sony’s indie distribution arm.)
“Babel” is RED’s first No. 1 since Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” (TBD/ATO) jumped to the top of the list (flying from No. 156 to No. 1) on the Jan. 12, 2008 chart.
RED will continue to shine bright in the coming weeks, as the company prepares to release Jason Aldean’s “Night Train” album on Oct. 16. His last album, “My Kinda Party,” has spent 100 weeks on the Billboard 200 and has shifted 2.8 million in the U.S.
Second Largest Sales Week of 2012 (Overall): “Babel’s” big debut is the overall second-largest this year, in terms of copies sold in a single week, second only to Adele’s “21.”
Second Largest Sales Week for an Independently Distributed Album in SoundScan History: Only one other indie-distributed set in SoundScan history (1991-present) has sold more in a week: Eagles’ Walmart-exclusive “Long Road Out of Eden.” It bowed with 711,000 at No. 1 on the Nov. 17, 2007 chart.
Second Largest Digital Sales Week for an Album: With 420,000 downloads sold, “Babel” scores the second-biggest frame for a digital album in history. Only Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” which moved 662,000 downloads in its first week in 2011, sold more digital copies in a week. (A chunk of Gaga’s figure was driven by Amazon MP3’s sale pricing of the set at 99-cents for two days during release week.) In third place on the all-time biggest download weeks is Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter IV,” which sold 362,000 digital copies its first week last year.
Sixth-Straight Year an Indie Album Has Hit No. 1: Since 2007, there has been at least one independently-distributed album that has ruled at No. 1. “Babel” is the first such indie set this year, and follows Cake’s “Showroom of Compassion” and Mac Miller’s “Blue Slide Park” in 2011. In 2010, three indie sets topped the list, while there was one each in 2009, 2008 and 2007.
Amidst all of the excitement over “Babel’s” debut, Mumford & Sons’ first album, “Sigh No More,” continues to rack up big sales. The set has been on the Billboard 200 since it debuted on the March 6, 2010 chart, and it hasn’t left the top 75 since July of 2010. So far, “Sigh No More,” which peaked at No. 2 on the chart, has sold 2.5 million in the U.S.
A full recap of the week’s top 10 selling albums and digital songs will follow on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 3.