Five years ago, a teenager in New Zealand named Ella Yelich-O’Connor was uploading her songs to SoundCloud in obscurity. Before long, with the stage name Lorde, she became a platinum-selling, Grammy-winning pop star, and now, at age 20, she has her first No. 1 on the Billboard album chart.
“Melodrama” (Lava/Republic), Lorde’s second album, squeezed ahead of the rapper 2 Chainz in a close race for the top. “Melodrama” had the equivalent of 109,000 sales in the United States in its first week out, including 82,000 copies sold as a full album and 35 million song streams, according to Nielsen.
2 Chainz’s “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music” (Def Jam) had the equivalent of 106,000 sales, including twice as many streams as “Melodrama.” But “Pretty Girls” sold only 57,000 copies as a full album, allowing Lorde to reach the top. (For almost three years now, Billboard’s chart positions have been computed through a formula incorporating sales of complete albums as well as both streams and downloads of individual songs.)
Also this week, Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” fell to third place in its 10th week out, and two other new albums rounded out the Top 5: “The Nashville Sound” (Southeastern/Thirty Tigers) by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is No. 4, and Nickelback’s “Feed the Machine” (BMG) is No. 5.
Katy Perry’s “Witness,” which opened at No. 1 last week dropped to No. 13 in its second week out, losing the equivalent of 85 percent of first-week sales; the album’s advance first single, “Chained to the Rhythm,” reached No. 4, but since then the album has not produced any hits.
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