On the latest Billboard 200 chart (dated July 18), rapper Meek Mill scored his first No. 1 album, as Dreams Worth More Than Money opened atop the tally. It moved 246,000 equivalent album units in the week ending July 5, according to Nielsen Music.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the week’s most popular albums based on their overall consumption. That overall unit figure combines pure album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA).
The July 18-dated chart is the final Billboard 200 chart utilizing sales data from a Monday to Sunday tracking cycle, due to the music industry shifting to a global release date for new albums (Fridays, beginning on July 10). Going forward, Nielsen Music will alter its sales tracking week to a Friday to Thursday cycle. The first Billboard 200 chart impacted by this shift will see its top 10 revealed in a news story on Saturday, July 11, followed by a full posting of the chart on Tuesday, July 14. (Read this story for further information about the changes.)
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the action on the July 18 chart:
— Neil Young + Promise of the Real, The Monsanto Years – No. 21 — Neil Young’s latest effort (which launches with 18,000 units) also gives the rock icon his 40th top 40 album. That ties him with The Beatles for the sixth most top 40 albums in the history of the chart (which began publishing on a regular, weekly basis in 1956). Ahead of them are Frank Sinatra (with the record most top 40 sets: 56), Elvis Presley (52), Barbra Streisand (51), the Rolling Stones (45) and Bob Dylan (44). Young has been very prolific in recent years, as he’s notched 18 of his top 40 titles since 2000. That’s the most top 40 hits in that span of time for a traditional artist, with only the Glee cast (with 20) and the Kidz Bop Kids franchise (27) having earned more. (To compare, between 1985-1999, Young only earned seven top 40 albums.)
— Joy Williams, Venus – No. 71 — After charting five albums as a member of the folk/rock duo The Civil Wars, singer Joy Williams nets her first solo entry on the Billboard 200 with Venus (8,000 units). The Civil Wars’ second (and likely final) studio album, a 2013 self-titled set, debuted at No. 1. Although Venus is Williams’ first entry on the big chart, she’s charted solo albums in earlier years on the Top Christian Albums chart: a self-titled set in 2001 (which peaked at No. 12), By Surprise (2002, No. 31) and Genesis (2005, No. 18). Venus also debuts at No. 3 on the Folk Albums chart, where The Civil Wars have scored 10 entries (the most of any duo or group), including two No. 1s.
— Dr. Dre, The Chronic – No. 72 — After more than 20 years off the chart, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic returns to the list at No. 72 with 8,000 units. Its re-entrance is prompted by the album’s return to digital retailers, where it had been unavailable since 2011. The bulk of its unit total for the week was driven by download sales, as the set also debuts at No. 23 on the Digital Albums chart with 6,000 downloads sold. The Chronic was last on the Billboard 200 chart dated Aug. 27, 1994. In total, the album spent 28 weeks in the top 10, all consecutive, in 1993. It peaked at No. 3 for six nonconsecutive weeks and has sold 5.7 million copies in the U.S.
— The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers: Live – No. 92 — The Rolling Stones rock with its 53rd chart entry, as its new album Sticky Fingers: Live arrives at No. 92 with 7,000 units. The album was recorded on May 20 at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, where the Stones played the 10-song Sticky Fingers album in its entirety for the first time as a kick-off to its current Zip Code tour. (Sticky Fingers, first released in 1971, was reissued in a variety of formats on June 9.) Among those tunes are tracks like “You Gotta Move,” which hadn’t been performed by the band since 1976, and “Sister Morphine,” not performed since 1998. Sticky Fingers: Live is The Rolling Stones’ 13th charting live album. The group last visited the chart with a new studio album nearly 10 years ago, when A Bigger Bang bowed at No. 3 on the Sept. 24, 2005-dated chart.
— Lee Greenwood, American Patriot – No. 172 — Thanks to the annual resurgence in popularity of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.,” its parent album American Patriot debuts on the tally at No. 172 with 4,000 units earned. (It’s Greenwood’s first chart entry since 1985, when Greatest Hits peaked at No. 163.) The bulk of American Patriot’s units for the week (71 percent) were powered by track equivalent albums — mostly sales of “God Bless the U.S.A.” The song always sees a spike in popularity around the Independence Day holiday, and was up 142 percent in download sales, rising to 6,000 for the week. “God Bless the U.S.A.” was initially a hit in 1984, peaking at No. 7 on the Hot Country Songs chart. The song later became a hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, debuting and peaking at No. 16 on the Hot 100 dated Sept. 29, 2001.