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‘Empire,’ Madonna and Luke Bryan Debut in Top Three on Billboard 200

The 'Empire' soundtrack, Madonna's 'Rebel Heart' and Luke Bryan's latest 'Spring Break' album all arrive in the top three of the Billboard 200 chart.

As reported earlier, Fox TV’s smash musical drama series Empire sees its soundtrack debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, moving 130,000 equivalent album units in the week ending March 15, according to Nielsen Music.

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).

Empire continues to rack up big TV ratings as well: its March 11 episode was seen by 14.9 million viewers according to Nielsen, making it the third most-watched primetime broadcast of the week (behind only NCIS, with 16.2 million; and The Big Bang Theory, with 16.1 million).

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Madonna‘s 13th studio album Rebel Heart debuts at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with 121,000 units, securing the Queen of Pop her 21st top 10 album. All 13 of her studio efforts have reached the top 10, and she’s earned another eight top 10s with greatest hits packages, live albums and soundtracks. Madonna has the second-most top 10 albums among women, trailing only Barbra Streisand, with 33.

Luke Bryan rounds out the trio of debuts in the new top 10, as his latest spring break-themed album, Spring Break…Checkin’ Out, starts at No. 3 with 106,000 units. Over on the Top Country Albums chart, the set enters at No. 1, giving Bryan his fifth chart-topper. Of his five No. 1s, three of them have been part of his spring break-themed series of releases.

Outside of the top three, the rest of the top 10 is fairly quiet. The Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack slips 2-4 with 72,000 units (down 25 percent) while Taylor Swift’s 1989 descends 3-5 with 62,000 (down 19 percent).

Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour jumps 8-6 with 61,000 (up 23 percent), spending its 32nd nonconsecutive week in the top 10. That’s the most weeks in the top 10 for an album by a male artist since Usher’s Confessions racked up 41 weeks in the region between 2004 and 2005.

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Drake’s former No. 1 If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (which happens to include a song titled “Madonna”) drops 4-7 with 58,000 (down 20 percent).

Ed Sheeran’s x slides 5-8 with 53,000 (down 15 percent) and Maroon 5’s V moves 7-9 with 48,000 (down 4 percent).

Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise rounds out the top 10, as it descends 6-10 with 38,000 (down 35 percent).

The previous week’s No. 1 album, Kelly Clarkson’s Piece By Piece, drops out of the top 10, falling 1-12 with 32,000 units (down 67 percent). Piece By Piece has the largest positional drop from No. 1 since the Aug. 2, 2014-dated chart, when Sia’s 1000 Forms of Fear fell 1-19 in its second week.

‘Empire,’ Madonna & Luke Bryan Set for Top Three Debuts on Billboard 200 Chart

We'll have a debut-filled top three on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week, as Madonna, the 'Empire' soundtrack and Luke Bryan are all heading for big bows.

We’ll have a debut-filled top three on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week, as Madonna, the Empire soundtrack and Luke Bryan are all heading for big bows.

As previously reported, Madonna’s 13th studio album Rebel Heart is in a race for the top against the soundtrack of Fox TV’s new hit series Empire. Industry forecasters suggest both sets might move 120,000 equivalent album units in the week ending March 15.

Madonna vs. ‘Empire’ for No. 1 on Billboard 200 Chart

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 Billboard 200’s top 10 will be revealed on Wednesday, March 18.

Luke Bryan’s latest effort, Spring Break…Checkin’ Out, will likely start in the No. 3 slot with a little over 100,000 units. All three of the above-mentioned albums were released on March 10.

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Rebel Heart, issued through Live Nation/Interscope Records, would mark Madonna’s 21st top 10 album. All 12 of her previous studio efforts have reached the region, and her last five studio sets all debuted at No. 1.

If Empire bows atop the list, it would be the first soundtrack to open at No. 1 in nearly two years. The last to do so was The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond (on the chart dated April 7, 2012). Further, Empire would mark the first TV soundtrack to lead the list since 2010, when three different Glee albums reached No. 1.

As for Luke Bryan, his latest album is the eighth — and final — in his spring break-themed series of releases. His first Spring Break set came in 2009 (Spring Break With All My Friends) and he’s continued the party ever since on an almost-yearly basis. In 2013, he garnered his second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with a compilation of previously released Spring Break tracks: Spring Break…Here To Party.

The new Spring Break…Checkin’ Out would give Bryan his seventh top 10 album on the Billboard 200, and his fifth No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart.