Kendrick Lamar’s album, DAMN., has stumbled into a new territory of record-breaking. Instead of the great heights sought by Guinness, these records only consider the bare minimum. DAMN., which last held the top spot on May 20th, returned from its recluse to overthrow Arcade Fire’s Everything Now, which has since dropped below the top ten.
The album took thirteen weeks of planning and plotting to regain its position at No. 1. After the infamous former Disney star Jake Paul put Lamar down in a tweet after knocking “HUMBLE” off as the No. 1 song on iTunes, DAMN. climbed the ladder of chaos back to its old seat. DAMN. may have clawed its way back to the top, but at 47,000 copies sold per week, its selling at the second lowest rate for a No. 1 album since 2014. Yes, a record, but one about holding the top spot with the least amount of sales. However, it is remarkable to regain the No. 1 spot after almost three months of absence. It signifies timelessness. Perhaps people messed around with Arcade Fire for a bit, but DAMN. is truly the album of the summer.
To understand the significance of Lamar’s position on the scale, it is important to look at how Billboard 200 works. In 2014, Billboard shifted its algorithm from a sales-based rating system to something that measures multi-metric consumption. The shift moves to extend the accounting beyond album sales to digital streams and purchases, giving readers an idea not just of sales but of more general consumption activity, the kind of attention an album gets other than basic purchasing. All major streaming services get taken into account. As for digital purchasing, every ten individual songs purchased will count as an album sale. While the new system gives a much more nuanced perspective on an album’s popularity, the old method will still be available under the title, Top Album Sales.
The last album to hold the No. 1 spot with the least amount of record sales was the Descendants soundtrack in 2015. The soundtrack sold 42,000 in its first week, five thousand less than DAMN. It was the first Disney soundtrack album to reach a No. 1 spot on Billboard. DAMN. now sits in the company of Brett Eldredge, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Now 63, 21 Savage, Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons, SZA, and Khalid, as leader of the top ten albums.
Photography Credit: Sharon Alagna