Red is expected to ring up the highest one-week sales tally since 50 Cent's The Massacre sold 1,141,000 copies in its first week in March 2005. (If everything falls into place, Red could even achieve the highest one-week total since Eminem's The Eminem Show sold 1,322,000 copies in its first full week of release in June 2002.)
Backstreet Boys scored in 1999 with Millennium (1,134,000) and in 2000 with Black And Blue (1,591,000). *NSYNC scored in 2000 with No Strings Attached (2,416,000) and in 2001 with Celebrity (1,880,000). Eminem scored in 2000 with The Marshall Mathers LP (1,760,000) and in 2002 with The Eminem Show (1,322,000). The Fine Print: That was the first full week of release for The Eminem Show, which had debuted the previous week based on just three days of sales. Details below.
Red is also expected to debut at #1 in the U.K. It would be Swift's first #1 album in the U.K. Fearless peaked at #5. Speak Now reached #6. Red would be only the second country/pop crossover album to reach #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K. since the U.K. album chart originated in 1956. It would follow Eagles' Long Road Out Of Eden, which topped the charts in both countries in 2007.
This will be the seventh time since 1992 that a country artist has had the year's fastest-breaking album, a sign of the genre's strength. Pop artists have earned the title six times; rap artists, five times; rock artists, twice. Usher is the only R&B artist to have done it. (I'm classifying The Beatles as pop, though you could just as easily call them rock.)
Here are the albums that sold the most copies in their first week of release in every year since 1992. The dates shown are Nielsen SoundScan dates, which run 13 days ahead of Billboard issue dates (six days ahead in 1992). In all but two cases, these are also the albums that sold the most copies in any one week during the year (whether it was their first week or not). I'll fill you in on The Fine Print as we go along.
1993: Pearl Jam's Vs., 950K. The album debuted at #1 the week ending Oct. 24 as "Go" slipped from #4 to #5 on Album Rock Tracks and "Daughter" shot from #32 to #15. (This was before the band had ever cracked the Hot 100.) It was the rock band's first #1 album. Ten had logged four weeks at #2.
1994: Garth Brooks' The Hits, 520K. The album debuted at #3 the week ending Dec. 18 as "The Red Strokes" dropped from #61 to #64 on Hot Country Songs. It was Brooks' fourth #1 album. The Hits also had the biggest overall sales week that year, when it sold 907K copies in its second week.
1996: Metallica's Load, 680K. The album debuted at #1 the week ending June 9 as "Until It Sleeps" dropped from #11 to #14 on the Hot 100. It was the metal band's second #1 album in a row, following 1991's Metallica.
1998: Garth Brooks' Double Live, 1,085,000. This was the first album in Nielsen SoundScan history to sell 1 million or more copies in its first week. The album debuted at #1 the week ending Nov. 22 as Brooks' top 10 country hit "It's Your Song" became his first Hot 100 entry. It was Brooks' seventh #1 album. This marked the first time in the Nielsen SoundScan era that an artist had the fastest-breaking album of the year in back-to-back years.
2000: *NSYNC's No Strings Attached, 2,416,000. This is the only album in the history of the music business to sell 2 million or more copies in its first week. The album debuted at #1 the week ending March 26 as "Bye Bye Bye" held at #5 for the fourth week. It was the boy band's first #1 album. *NSYNC had spent three weeks at #2.
2001: *NSYNC's Celebrity, 1,880,000. The album debuted at #1 the week ending July 29, as "Pop" dropped from #55 to #62. It was the boy band's second #1 album in a row. This marked the second time in the Nielsen SoundScan era that an artist had the fastest-breaking album of the year in back-to-back years.
2004: Usher's Confessions, 1,096,000. The album debuted at #1 the week ending March 28 as "Yeah!" (featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris) logged its seventh week at #1 and "Burn" jumped from #15 to #10. It was the R&B superstar's first #1 album. My Way and 8701 had both reached #4.
2005: 50 Cent's The Massacre, 1,141,000. The album debuted at #1 the week ending March 6 as "Candy Shop" (featuring Olivia) logged its third week at #1. It was the rapper's second #1 album.
2007: Kanye West's Graduation, 957K. The album debuted at #1 the week ending Sept. 16 as "Stronger" jumped from #2 to #1. It was the rapper's second #1 album, following 2005's Late Registration. Graduation won a heavily-publicized show-down with 50 Cent's Curtis, which sold 691K that week.
2009: Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream, 701K. The album debuted at #1 the week ending Nov. 29 as the title track (from Les Miserables) entered the Hot 100 at #62 and Boyle's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" bowed at #98. This marked the second time in the Nielsen SoundScan era that an artist's first studio album rang up the biggest first-week sales of the year.
2010: Taylor Swift's Speak Now, 1,047,000. The album debuted at #1 the week ending Oct. 31 as "Sparks Fly" debuted at #17, "Mine" slipped from #13 to #21 and "Innocent" debuted at #27. It was Swift's second #1 album, following 2008's Fearless.
2012: Taylor Swift's Red, 1,115,000 (projection). The album is set to debut at #1 next week, as "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" holds at #4 (also a projection). It'll be Swift's third #1 album.
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