When South Korean boy band BTS debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart (dated June 2) with Love Yourself: Tear, the group not only brought the K-pop genre to the top of the list for the first time, but also the rare non-English-language album to No. 1.
Love Yourself: Tear is performed mostly in the Korean language, with a few lyrics in English.
Here’s a look at No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart where at least half of the tracks on a set are performed in a language other than English.
Artist — Title — Peak Date (Weeks at No. 1)
BTS — Love Yourself: Tear — June 2 (one week at No. 1): Performed largely in Korean, the album includes the top 10 Billboard Hot 100 single “Fake Love.” The tune debuted at No. 10 on the chart dated June 2, marking the first K-pop track to bow in the top 10, and BTS’ first visit to the region.
Il Divo – Ancora – Feb. 11, 2006 (one week): The classical crossover vocal quartet’s album boasts songs performed in Spanish, Italian and French, along with a track sung partially in English.
Josh Groban – Closer – Jan. 24, 2004 (one week): It may come as a surprise to some, but over half of Josh Groban’s first No. 1 album is sung in languages other than English. Seven of the album’s 13 songs are performed in either Italian, Spanish or French, while the remaining six are in English.
Selena – Dreaming of You – Aug. 5, 1995 (one week): Selena’s final studio album debuted at No. 1 only a few months after her death on March 31, 1995. The 13-song album includes six tracks in Spanish, five in English, and two duets that blend English and Spanish: “God’s Child (Baila Conmigo)” with David Byrne, and “Wherever You Are (Donde Quiera Que Estés)” with The Barrio Boyzz. On both tracks, Selena sang the Spanish portions of the songs.
The Singing Nun – The Singing Nun – Dec. 7, 1963 (10 weeks): The Singing Nun (Sister Luc-Gabrielle, birth name: Jeanne-Paule Marie Deckers) topped the chart for 10 weeks with her self-titled album, which was recorded entirely in French.
The Singing Nun began her journey to the top of the chart in 1961. That year, encouraged by her popularity as a performer with young girls studying at her convent, The Singing Nun and some of her sisters requested to use a Philips Records recording studio in Brussels, Belgium. They wanted to record some of the songs that the children loved, and have Philips press a small number of vinyl copies to give away to the kids. Philips eventually agreed, and in early 1962, the sisters visited the studio and recorded some tunes. The executives liked what they heard so much they decided to commercially release the album in Europe to great success. Eventually, the LP was released in the U.S., and spun off a No. 1 Hot 100 hit in “Dominque,” which spent four weeks atop the list in December of 1963.