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 Taylor Swift-endorsed Platten is the latest developing act to find chart success in early January, thanks to the strategy of dropping an album early in the month when there is little competition from brand-new superstar albums. Few A-list artists populate the new release calendar each January, as most tend to push out new efforts in the fourth quarter, in the hopes of raking in big Christmas-fueled sales.
One of the best examples of a new artist scoring a big chart triumph in January is when Kesha issued her debut set, Animal, on Jan. 5, 2010. The then-rising singer was in the middle of a nine-week run at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the album’s lead single, “Tik Tok.” Kesha blasted in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart dated Jan. 23, selling 152,000 in pure album sales in its first week (back when the chart ranked titles on straight album sales). The party-ready pop star bumped Susan Boyle from the top slot, after her six-week run with debut album I Dreamed a Dream.
Five years after Kesha, Meghan Trainor followed her No. 1 Hot 100 hit “All About That Bass” with her first full-length album, Title. The latter, released on Jan. 13, blasted in at No. 1 on the list dated Jan. 31 with 238,000 equivalent album units and 195,000 in pure album sales.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the action on the latest Billboard 200 chart:
— Joey Alexander, My Favorite Things – No. 59 — 12-year-old jazz pianist Joey Alexander makes a big chart splash thanks to his profile on CBS’ 60 Minutes (Jan. 3). The album re-enters chart Billboard 200 at No. 59 (a new peak) with 9,000 sold in pure album sales — up by 3,563 percent. My Favorite Things also gives Alexander his first No. 1 on both the Jazz Albums and Traditional Jazz Albums charts. It flies 22-1 on the former, and re-enters at No. 1 on the latter.
Alexander also dots the Jazz Digital Songs chart, as he places five cuts on the 25-position list, including his album’s title cut at No. 6 (1,000 downloads sold; up 1,722 percent).
— Duran Duran, Paper Gods – No. 45 — A concert ticket/album bundle for the band’s upcoming tour triggers its returns to the list (12,000 units, up 1,367 percent). The trek kicks off March 28 in Durham, N.C. and continues through August.
— DNCE, Swaay (EP) – No. 51 — As the quartet’s single “Cake by the Ocean” continues to rise up the charts (it moves into the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time, climbing 41-26), its parent EP also travels upwards. The Swaay EP vaults 92-51 with 10,000 units (up 6 percent).
— Metallica, Metallica – No. 64 — A little gain can sometimes make a big difference on the chart, especially in early January. Case in point: Metallica’s self-titled album gains by just 1 percent in units for the week (growing to 9,000) but it zooms 112-64. Why the huge jump from such a small unit gain? The rest of the chart is still recuperating from the Christmas shopping season, so most titles on the chart decline in total consumption. Metallica’s album, on the other hand, was promoted by digital retailers during the tracking week, which helps its overall activity and sales (7,000 sold for the week, up 6 percent).
— Fleetwood Mac, Greatest Hits – No. 87 — Perhaps surprisingly, this 1988 release was the third-largest selling album of 2015 in the U.S. for Warner Bros. Records, with 257,000 sold. Ahead of it: Josh Groban’s Stages (637,000) and Kid Rock’s First Kiss (354,000). The classic Rumours-era lineup of Fleetwood Mac reunited in 2014 for a successful world tour, which played more than 100 shows in 2014 and 2015. Clearly, fans were energized by the reunion and tour, and turned to buying the Greatest Hits album. Its sales in 2015 grew 114 percent compared to its haul in 2014 (120,000).