Though it seemed like there was going to be a race for the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 this week, Ariana Grande’s “Yours Truly” comes out on top by a sizable margin.
The debut effort from the 20-year-old-singer/actress bows atop the list with 138,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Behind it R&B singer Tamar Braxton debuts with “Love & War,” which launches at No. 2 with 114,000. (Braxton also bows at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and the Top R&B Albums chart.)
Grande is the first female artist to debut at No. 1 with their first album since January 2010, when Ke$ha’s “Animal” opened at No. 1. As for Braxton, she tallies the largest sales week for a female R&B/hip-hop album since last November, when Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” bowed with 159,000.
Last Friday (Sept. 6), there was a bit of a competition brewing between “Yours Truly” and “Love & War.” At the time, industry sources suggested that “Yours Truly” was aiming for a start of around 115,000 to 120,000, while “Love & War” was eyeing a bow of 110,000 to 115,000.
A day earlier, Grande’s camp launched a successful download album promotion tied to an upcoming holiday party hosted by the singer. Consumers who purchased “Yours Truly” via her website (through Sunday, Sept. 8 — the final day of the tracking week) will receive a ticket to one of a series of events with Grande later this year.
Label sources suggest that the holiday party offer drove between 5,000 and 7,000 in sales for the album. Details of the holiday events haven’t been announced, but one could imagine they may include a concert by Grande and perhaps a meet-and-greet opportunity with her.
Grande’s sales were especially strong in the digital world, as 108,000 of her first-week sales were downloads, or 78%, of her debut. Comparably, Braxton’s album only moved 51,000 downloads: 45% of her debut. Braxton’s album, however, performed strongly as a CD with physical retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Target.
Because of that, Braxton actually has the No. 1-selling physical album this week (63,000), while Grande’s set is the No. 7 physical seller (30,000). On the Digital Albums chart, Grande is No. 1, while Braxton is No. 2.
Though “Love & War” didn’t perform incredibly strong as a download, it was offered at a very attractive price in Braxton’s Web store: $3.99.
But there’s other news in the top 10 aside from Grande and Braxton, as they are just two of the five new entries in the region. Nine Inch Nails returns with its first studio album since 2008, as “Hesitation Marks” bows at No. 3 with 107,000. The set is the act’s first for Columbia Records, after two independently released studio efforts in 2008. Those indie albums—”The Slip” and “Ghosts I-IV”—launched at Nos. 13 and 14 with 29,000 and 26,000, respectively. The band’s last major-label studio set, 2007’s “Year Zero” on Nothing/Interscope Records, started at No. 2 with 187,000. All told, “Hesitation Marks” gives Nine Inch Nails its 14th charting set and sixth top 10 album.
John Legend racks his sixth consecutive top 10 album on the Billboard 200, as “Love in the Future” bows at No. 4 with 68,000. He last visited the tally with his collaboration album “Wake Up!” (with the Roots), which debuted and peaked at No. 8 in 2010 (with a 63,000 bow). Before that, Legend’s last solo set, 2008’s “Evolver,” debuted and peaked at No. 4 with a 133,000 start.
Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” is the first of the chart’s holdover titles this week, as it slips 2-5 with nearly 68,000 (down 26%).
The fifth and final debut in the top 10 is Jaheim’s sixth studio effort, “Appreciation Day,” which enters at No. 6 with 58,000. It’s his fifth top 10 set and follows 2010’s “Another Round,” which debuted and peaked at No. 3 from a 112,000 debut. His new album tallies his lowest sales start for a studio album, falling lower than his first album’s opening: 2001’s “Ghetto Love” (80,000).
Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is pushed back 5-7 with 57,000 (though it’s up 3%), and Avenged Sevenfold’s “Hail to the King” falls 1-8 with 42,000 (down 74%). Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” also gains but dips 6-9 with 38,000 (up 3%). Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” closes the top 10, rising 16-10 with 35,000 (up 44%). The album—like those by Thicke and Timberlake—is boosted by sale pricing last week in the iTunes Store. All three albums were discounted to $6.99 as part of a back-to-school promotion.
Over on the Digital Songs chart, Katy Perry’s “Roar” holds at No. 1 for a fourth week, selling another 373,000 downloads (down 17%). Current Billboard magazine cover star Lorde flies 8-2 with her breakthrough single “Royals” as it moves 225,000 (up 34%).
Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!” zooms 6-3 with 197,000 (up 12%), while Eminem’s “Berzerk” slides 2-4 with 187,000 (down 48%) in its second week.
Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” featuring Pharrell and T.I., drops 3-5 with 168,000 (down 31%) while Lady Gaga’s “Applause” falls 4-6 with 160,000 (down 25%). Perry and Lady Gaga both decline this week, following handsome gains a week ago in the wake of their performances on the MTV Video Music Awards (Aug. 25).
Jay Z’s “Holy Grail,” featuring Timberlake, is steady at No. 7 with 159,000 (down 7%), and Lana Del Rey & Cedric Gervais’ “Summertime Sadness” rises 11-8 with 127,000 (though it’s down by 2% in sales).
Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” featuring Majid Jordan, rises one slot to No. 9 with nearly 127,000 (down 10%), and Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” falls 5-10 with 116,000 (down 42%). The latter song will likely make a gain next week, following consumer reaction to its official music video, which premiered Sept. 9.
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Sept. 8) totaled 5.1 million units, up 3% compared with the sum last week (4.9 million) and up 6% compared with the comparable sales week of 2012 (4.8 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 191 million, down 6% compared with the same total at this point last year (202.2 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 22.3 million downloads, down 1% compared with last week (22.6 million) and down 4% stacked next to the comparable week of 2012 (23.3 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 910.3 million, down 3% compared with the same total at this point last year (939.6 million).
Next week’s Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2012 when: Dave Matthews Band’s “Away From the World” debuted at No. 1, selling 266,000. All of the top six titles were new entries that week, with Little Big Town’s “Tornado” blowing into the No. 2 slot with 113,000.