David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, giving the late music legend his first No. 1 album.
Bowie died on Jan. 10 of cancer, two days after the release of the album.
Blackstar was issued through ISO/Columbia Records and earned 181,000 equivalent album units in the U.S., during the week ending Jan. 14, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 174,000 were in pure album sales — Bowie’s biggest sales week for an album since Nielsen began electronically tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991. (His previous sales high in that span of time came when his last album, 2013’s The Next Day, bowed with 85,000 sold in its first week.)
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new Jan. 30, 2016-dated chart (where Bowie debuts at No. 1) will be posted in full to Billboard’s websites on Wednesday, Jan. 20. (Charts will be refreshed one day later than usual this week, due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 18.)
Clearly, music fans were moved by the news of Bowie’s death, as not only did Blackstar perform strongly, but he has nine further albums that either re-enter or debut on the Billboard 200 chart. Among them are two further titles in the top 40: the greatest hits collection Best of Bowie (No. 4) and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (No. 21).
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Bowie’s history on the Billboard 200 dates back nearly 44 years, when Hunky Dory bowed on the chart dated April 15, 1972.
Blackstar and Best of Bowie bring the artist’s total of top 10-charting albums to nine. He previously hit the region with The Next Day (peaking at No. 2 in 2013), Let’s Dance (No. 4, 1983), ChangesOneBowie (No. 10, 1976), Station to Station (No. 3, 1976), Young Americans (No. 9, 1975), David Live (No. 8, 1974) and Diamond Dogs (No. 5, 1974).
Best of Bowie, released in 2002, returns to the chart at No. 4 (a new peak) with 94,000 units (up from only a few thousand in the week previous). It sold 51,000 in pure album sales, gaining by 6,698 percent. (It originally peaked at No. 70 in 2002.)
Naturally, a significant portion (48 percent) of Best of Bowie’s total units during the latest week were driven by track and streaming equivalent album units of its popular tracks. Among the tunes on the album: 11 of his 13 top 40-charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Those include his six top 10 hits: “Fame” (No. 1 in 1975), “Golden Years” (No. 10, 1976), “Let’s Dance” (No. 1, 1983), “China Girl” (No. 10, 1983), “Modern Love” (No. 14, 1983), “Blue Jean” (No. 8, 1984), “This Is Not America” (with Pat Metheny, No. 32 in 1985) and “Dancing in the Street” (with Mick Jagger, No. 7 in 1987).
With Blackstar and Best of Bowie at Nos. 1 and 4, respectively, Bowie is one of the handful of acts to manage the feat of having two albums in the top four of the chart at the same time. Previous to Bowie, the last act to do so was Adele on the chart dated March 3, 2012. That week, in the wake of her performance and six wins at the Grammy Awards (Feb. 12), 21 held at No. 1 while her previous album 19 rose 9-4.
Blackstar is additionally the first posthumous No. 1 album since Michael Jackson’s This Is It soundtrack arrived atop the list dated Nov. 14, 2009. Jackson died earlier that year.
As for the rest of the new top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart, Adele’s 25 slips to No. 2 (143,000 units; down 26 percent) after seven consecutive weeks at No. 1. Justin Bieber’s Purpose also moves down a rung, to No. 3, with 104,000 units (down 17 percent).
Twenty One Pilots’ Blurryface falls 3-5 (43,000; down 17 percent), The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness dips 4-6 (39,000; down 14 percent) and Chris Stapleton’s Traveller holds steady at No. 7 (33,000; down 20 percent). Bryson Tiller’s Trapsoul hits a new peak, climbing 9-8 with nearly 33,000 units (down only 8 percent).
G-Eazy’s When It’s Dark Out returns to the top 10 for the first time since its debut frame, as it rises 13-9 in its sixth week (29,000; down 2 percent). Fetty Wap’s self-titled album descends 8-10 with 29,000 units (down 20 percent).