Ariana Grande achieves her fifth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as her latest studio effort, Positions, debuts atop the tally. The set was released on Oct. 30 by Republic Records and launches with 174,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending Nov. 5, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.
Positions is Grande’s third No. 1 album in less than two years and three months — the fastest accumulation of three No. 1 proper studio albums ever by a woman. More on that in a moment.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption as measured in equivalent album units. Units comprise album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Each unit equals one album sale, or 10 individual tracks sold from an album, or 3,750 ad-supported or 1,250 paid/subscription on-demand official audio and video streams generated by songs from an album. The new Nov. 14-dated chart (where Positions bows at to No. 1) will be posted in full on Billboard’s website on Nov. 10. For all chart news, follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both Twitter and Instagram.
Of Positions’ 174,000 units earned in the tracking week ending Nov. 5, SEA units comprise 129,000 (equaling 173.54 million on-demand streams of the album’s songs), 42,000 comprise album sales and 3,000 comprise TEA units.
It’s worth noting that Positions’ album sales sum of 42,000 is not aided by either merchandise/album bundles or concert ticket/album sale redemption offers. In the past, Grande’s album sales — like many other artists’ albums — have benefitted from both sorts of offers. Merchandise/album bundles and ticket/album bundles both ceased to count towards chart sales as of Oct. 9.
In terms of overall equivalent album units earned, Positions has the highest one-week total for an album since bundles stopped factoring into chart and sales rankings.
Positions’ streaming start of 173.54 million clicks is the second-largest streaming week for a non-R&B/hip-hop or Latin album in 2020. Only Taylor Swift’s Folklore managed a larger streaming sum this year, in its debut week, among non-R&B/hip-hop and Latin titles, with 289.85 million streams.
The Positions album arrived with little advance notice and was first teased by Grande on Oct. 14, when she stated a new album was due out by the end of October. Grande is the latest female pop star to spring a No. 1 album on the public with little notice, following Swift, who announced her Folklore album on July 23, the day before it was released. Like Positions, Folklore also debuted at No. 1.
Positions was led by its title track as its first single, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart dated Nov. 7 (marking her fifth Hot 100 No. 1, and record-extending fifth No. 1 debut).
Grande first reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with her debut album, Yours Truly, which opened at No. 1 on the Sept. 21, 2013-dated chart. She followed it with My Everything (Sept. 13, 2014), Sweetener (Sept. 1, 2018), Thank U, Next (Feb. 23, 2019; it’s her only set to lead for two weeks to-date) and now Positions (Nov. 14, 2020, chart).
Grande’s three most recent No. 1s have all come within the last two years and two and-a-half months. That’s the fastest accumulation of three No. 1s by a female artist in more than a decade — since Miley Cyrus accrued a trio of No. 1s in one year and nearly 10 months, between July 14, 2007, and May 2, 2009. Cyrus did it with Hannah Montana 2 (Soundtrack)/Meet Miley Cyrus (July 14, 2007), Breakout (Aug. 9, 2008) and the Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack (May 2, 2009).
If one set aside artist-credited soundtracks, the last woman to notch three No. 1s faster than Grande was Donna Summer, who scored her three total No. 1s in just one year and two months — over 40 years ago. Summer first hit No. 1 with (Nov. 11, 1978), and followed it with Bad Girls (June 16, 1979) and On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II (Jan. 5, 1980).
Summer’s three No. 1s were a live album (with a couple new studio recordings as bonus tracks), a studio project and a greatest hits set, respectively. Grande, however, has claimed her three latest leaders all via proper studio albums. No woman in the history of the Billboard 200 chart, which began publishing on a regular weekly basis in March of 1956, has claimed three No. 1 proper studio albums faster than Grande.
Among male artists, the last act to tally three No. 1s in a shorter amount of time was rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again just a few months ago. He scored his three total No. 1s in less than a year with AI YoungBoy 2, 38 Baby 2 and Top, between Oct. 26, 2019 and Sept. 26, 2020.
Among groups, most recently BTS has logged all four of its No. 1 albums in less than two years. The group first led the chart with Love Yourself: Tear, and followed it with Love Yourself: Answer, Map of the Soul: Persona and Map of the Soul: 7, all between June 2, 2018 and March 7, 2020.
At No. 2 on the new Billboard 200, rapper Trippie Redd keeps up his prolific pace, as he logs his fifth top five-charting album in a little over two years. His latest release Pegasus flies in at No. 2 with 60,000 equivalent album units earned. Of that sum, 56,000 comprise SEA units (totaling 79.22 million on-demand streams of the set’s songs), 4,000 comprise album sales and a negligible number total TEA units.
Since Trippie Redd achieved his first top five charting set with Life’s a Trip on Aug. 25, 2018, no other act has claimed five top five efforts. Since Life’s a Trip, he added top five sets with A Love Letter to You 3 (No. 3, Nov. 24, 2018), ! (No. 3, Aug. 24, 2019), A Love Letter to You 4 (No. 1, Dec. 7, 2019) and now Pegasus (Nov. 14, 2020).
Pop Smoke’s former No. 1 Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon holds at No. 3 with 60,000 equivalent album units (down 3 percent), while Luke Combs’ What You See Is What You Get falls 1-4 with 52,000 units (down 52 percent).
Sam Smith nabs their third consecutive top five album in a row, as Love Goes debuts at No. 5 with 41,000 equivalent album units. Of that figure, 22,000 comprise SEA units (equaling 29.66 million on-demand streams of the album’s songs), 18,000 comprise album sales and 1,000 comprise TEA units.
Smith collected their first top five effort with full-length debut album In the Lonely Hour, which peaked at No. 2 on July 5, 2014. Their second album, The Thrill of It All, debuted at No. 1 on the Nov. 25, 2017-dated chart.
Juice WRLD’s former No. 1 Legends Never Die descends 5-6 with 40,000 equivalent album units earned (down 5 percent).
After more than a decade away from the Billboard 200, Busta Rhymes returns to the list, as his new studio album ELE 2: The Wrath of God bows at No. 7 with 38,000 equivalent album units. Of that sum, 20,000 comprise SEA units (totaling 27.78 million on-demand streams of the album’s songs), 17,000 comprise album sales and 1,000 comprise TEA units. The hip-hop veteran last debuted on the list, and was last in the top 10, with Back on My B.S., which debuted and peaked at No. 5 on the June 6, 2009-dated chart.
The new album is a guest-laden affair, boasting featured turns from Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Eminem and more.
In total, Rhymes has now claimed seven top 10s, stretching back to his debut set, The Coming, which peaked at No. 6 on April 13, 1996. Among his seven top 10s is one No. 1, The Big Bang (July 1, 2006).
Lil Baby’s former leader My Turn falls one rung to No. 8 on the new Billboard 200, with 35,000 equivalent album units (down less than 1 percent).
R&B singer Queen Naija sees her debut full-length studio album Missunderstood bow at No. 9 with 34,000 equivalent album units earned. Of that sum, 24,000 comprise SEA units (totaling 33.87 million on-demand streams of the set’s songs), 9,000 comprise album sales and a negligible figure totals TEA units.
Closing out the new top 10 is the original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton: An American Musical, which falls 8-10 with 30,000 equivalent album units earned (up less than 1 percent).