The World’s Biggest First Week Album Sales

by Sheldon Rocha Leal

I ’ m a big chart spectator and album sales figures fascinate me. What fascinates me the most is the fact that an artist can therefore unanimously attract to the sociable conscious that people will go out on mass to purchase their album and evening more absorbing, in the beginning weeks after the initial release of an artist ’ mho album. After having observed the charts for many years, I have noticed a few trends regarding the way in which people buy albums. There are a few times in which album sales spike :

  1. Christmas time: in the lead up to Christmas album sales increase exponentially;
  2. Grammy time: in the week after the Grammy ceremony album sales increase;
  3. After the death of a major celebrity, people seem to go out in droves to purchase an artist’s past albums, almost as a way to show respect to the artist or maybe as a way to hold on to something from their past.

For me one of the coolest things is an album ’ s first week sales. What I started noticing is that some artists shift thus many albums in their first week of passing, that they attract an immediate authentication in that week. normal artists will normally take a drawn-out clock before their albums are certified, amber, platinum or diamond. In arrange for an album to attract a documentation they need to sell a certain numeral of units. In the USA there are three major certifications :

  • Platinum: 1,000,000
  • Diamond: 10,000,000

But with album sales dropping, fewer artists are achieving these targets. Yet there are other artists that attain these certifications in the first week of liberation. To me it equitable goes to prove, that if you produce something people want, they will go out and buy it, and in mass.

I decided to write this article to highlight the Top28 biggest inaugural weeks in history, sol here it goes :

1. Michael Jackson: Bad (1987) 7million

“Bad” followed “Thriller”, the world’s biggest selling album, so it was highly anticipated, especially considering it had been 5 years since the release of the latter album. Over 2million albums were bought on pre-order and it went on to ship over 7million units worldwide in its first week. Making it the biggest first week sales in history. Although “Bad” did not match “Thriller’s” 66million units, it did manage to ship 35million units worldwide. It was a major disappointment for Michael Jackson

2. Adele: 25 (2015) 5,706,000

The album has to date sold over 22million units and was the biggest selling album in the world in 2015 and 2016, making Adele one of the most powerful artists in the world of music. This was Adele’a third studio album and followed her immensely successful “21” album which shipped 31million units globally. Just like “Bad” it took Adele 4 years to release this album, so the fans were chomping at the bit for new Adele content after the success of “21”.

3. The Backstreet Boys: Black and Blue (2000) 5million

The Backstreet Boys shipped over 100million albums in their career and even though they are not as big as they once were, at one stage they were the darlings of the music world. This album holds the record for the biggest first week sales by a band. It went on to ship over 24million units internationally.

4. Elvis Presley: Elv1s 30 #1 Hits (2002) 4.7million

This album followed the immense success of the “A Little Less Conversation” (featuring JXL) single, which had been released earlier in 2002, was featured in a Nike Soccer World Cup commercial and was an international smash hit. The compilation album, which contained 30 of Elvis’ No1 singles, went on to ship over 10million units globally. Who would have thought this album would have been a success considering over 100 Elvis compilation albums have been released since his passing in 1977.

5. John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Memorial Album (1963) 4.7million

This album was released less than a month after the assassination of President John F Kennedy on the 12th of December 1963 (he was assassinated on the 22nd of November). It is a spoken word album containing recordings of JFK’s most famous speeches. It is reputed that the album shifted 4.7million units in its first 6 days of release.

6. BTS: Map of the Soul 7 (2020) 3,707million

The album was released in March 2020 and beat all the group’s previous sales records. It shipped over 400,000 units in its first week in the USA and over 3,37million units in South Korea. It was their 13th No1 album in South Korea and peaked at No1 in over 20 countries worldwide, shipping over 3,7million units internationally.

7. Utada Hikaru: Distance (2001) 3,002,720

Hikaru is an American singer, who now resides in Japan. She initially started off as an English language singer and eventually converted to J-Pop. This was her second J-Pop album. This album shifted over 3million units in one week. Hikaru held the record for biggest first week sales in one territory for 14 years, until Adele released ‘25′. This album went on to ship over 4million units in Japan.

8. Ayumi Hamasaki: A Best (2001) 2,874,870

Ayumi is the biggest selling Japanese artist of all time. She is another J-Pop artist. This was Ayumi’s first greatest hits album, which was released after her second studio album. This album ship nearly 3million units in its first week and eventually shifted over 7million units in Asia.

9. B’z: The Best “Pleasure” (1998) 2,709,530

B’z is a Japanese rock band, that has been together since 1988. This was their first greatest hits compilations. This album eventually went on to ship over 5million units in Asia. The band is one of the biggest selling acts in Japanese history and even has a star on the Hollywood RockWalk. They have had 10 albums that have had opening weeks in which they have shipped over 1million units.

10. BTS (Bangtan Boys): Map Of The Soul-Persona (2019) 2,514,000

With this album the South Korean boy band became the first band in history to have three albums peak at No1 in the USA in a 12 month period. The only other band to do this were The Beatles. This is actually an EP and not a full album (only 7 songs). The album also peaked at No1 in the UK, South Korea, Scotland, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

11. B’z: The Best “Treasure” (1998) 2,500,120

This album contains the band’s biggest hits, as selected by their fans. This album eventually went on to ship over 4million units in Asia. It is the 5th biggest selling album in Japanese history.

12. BTS: Be (2020) 2,444,000

This is BTS’ 5th studio album and their 5th No1 album the USA. With this album they became the fastest group to achieve 5 No1 albums in the USA since the Beatles. The album peaked at No1 in 12 countries around the world. It was their second No1 album for the 2020 year. Combined first week sales of these two 2020 album was just over 6million units.

13. *Nsync: No Strings Attached (2000) 2,416,000

*Nsync was one of the world’s biggest selling boy bands at a time in which teen artists dominated the charts. Justin Timberlake started his music career in this band. This was the band’s second studio album. This album held the record for the biggest first week sales in the USA for 14 years, until Adele released ‘25′ in 2015.

14. Britney Spears: Oops!…I Did It Again (2000) 2.4million

Britney Spears was the Queen of the teen music revolution of the late 1990s/early 2000s. She has to date shipped over 100,000,000 units in her career. This was her second studio album and eventually went on to ship over 24million units internationally.

15. Utada Hikaru: Deep River (2002) 2,350,710

This is the star’s third studio album and her second of three appearances on this current chart. Utada has more entries on this chart, than any other artist. This album went on to ship over 3million units in Japan alone. This is also 8th biggest selling album in Japanese history.

16. Mai Kuraki: Delicious Way (2000) 2,218,640

Mai is a Japanese pop/R&B singer. She was inspired by the Music of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. This was Mai’s debut album. The album went on to ship over 3,5million units in Japan, making it the 9th biggest selling Japanese album of all time.

17. Utada Hikaru: First Love (1999) 2,026,870

This was Utada’s first album and her third appearance on my chart. This album eventually shipped over 11million units internationally and holds the record for being the biggest selling album in Japanese recording history.

18. Glay: Review (1997) 2,003,150

Glay is a Japanese Rock band, who have been together since 1988. The band has shipped over 51million units in their career. This was their first greatest hits album. The album has shipped over 4,8million units internationally, making it the 3rd biggest selling Japanese album of all time.

19. Taylor Swift: Folklore (2020) 2million

This is Taylor Swift’s 8th studio album and 6th consecutive album to have an opening week greater than 1million units. It is also her 6th consecutive album to ship over 800,000 units in its first week in the USA. It is reported that the album shipped over 2million units worldwide in its opening week and that it shipped over 1.3million units in its opening day.

20. Taylor Swift: Reputation (2017) 2million

This is Taylor’s 6th studio album and her 4th album to sell over 1million units in its first week. She is the only artist in history to have 4 albums sell over 1million units in its first week. Out of Taylor’s 6 studio albums, 5 have peaked at No1 in the USA.

21. Namie Amuro: Sweet 19 Blues (1996) 1,921,850

Namie is one of the biggest selling Japanese artists of all time. She is famous for being one of the leaders in the J-Pop movement. This was her second studio album release. The album went on to ship over 4million units. This album previously held the record for being the biggest selling album by a female artist in Japan.

22. *Nsync: Celebrity (2001) 1,951,000

This is the band’s third and last studio release and the second entry on my chart. The album included productions by some of the music business’ best producers at the time. It went on to ship over 5million units in the USA alone.

23. Lady Gaga: Born This Way (2012) 1,921,000

This was Lady Gaga’s second studio release. This album shipped over 1,9million units internationally in its first week. Although this album wasn’t as big a seller as her first album, The Fame, it did go on to ship over 6million units internationally.

24. Ed Sheeran:➗(2017) 1,789,000

Ed Sheeran is a British Folk/Pop musician. This is his third studio album and latest entry on this chart. Ed Sheeran now hold’s the record for the biggest first week sales by a male artist in history. He also holds the record for the most entries on the U.K. Top 20 single’s chart: 16.

25. Eminem: The Marshal Mathews LP (2000) 1,760,000

Eminem used to hold the record for the male with the biggest first week sales in history. That was until Ed Sheeran released ➗ this year. Eminem does, however, still hold the record for the biggest first week sales by a rap artist in history. This album is considered to be one of the biggest selling albums in history, having shipped over 32million units internationally and having earned Eminem 2 Grammy Awards.

26. Ayumi Hamasaki: I Am (2002) 1,751,360

This is Ayumi’s second entry on my chart and her 4th studio album. All-in-all Ayumi has now released 17 studio albums and although she doesn’t ship as many units as she once did, she is still considered to be a major icon in Japan. This album went on to ship over 2,3million units in Japan.

27. Led Zeppelin: In Through The Outdoor (1979) 1.7million

Led Zeppelin’s 8th and final album shipped a total of 1.7million units in its first week. The album was released prior to the untimely passing of the drummer, John Bonham. The album peaked at No1 in the USA and U.K. and went on to ship over 6million units in the USA alone.

28. Taylor Swift: 1989 (2014) 1,681,000

Taylor Swift started off initially as a Country singer, but this album has more of a Pop flavor. This is Taylor’s 5th studio album. This album has shipped over 9,5million units internationally. She also won 3 Grammy Awards for the work done on this album. So these are the 28 biggest first weeks in the rock earned run average. It has immediately reached a point that if an artist wants to be eligible for the Top15 they need to have shipped over 2.3million units in one workweek. At one stagecoach that would have been a improbable ask, but now we have had 17 artists that have achieved that feat, most of them in the new millennium. It is besides interesting to note that female artists dominate the Top28, with 13 positions occupied by solo female artists. Five alone male artists occupy placements and the remaining 9 positions are occupied by bands. Taylor Swift, Utada Hikaru and BTS have all placed 3 albums each on this list, tying for the most placements, with BTS being the merely act to have 2 albums in the Top10. Ayumi Hamasaki and B ’ z both placed two albums each on the number. Another concern fact is that asian artists, chiefly from Japan and South Korea, besides seem to dominate the list, with 13 albums placed. Three positions are occupied by british artists and 12 by USA acts. It will be interesting to see if anyone will be able to challenge the records that presently stand. I for one would be matter to to see who would be able to beat Adele ’ s astounding 5million unit accomplishment. All we can now do is wait and see…

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Category : music

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