'Black Panther' soundtrack makes history on the music charts

Paul Grein

In addition to setting records at the box office, Black Panther is making history on the music charts. The Kendrick Lamar-produced soundtrack enters the Billboard 200 at No. 1, even though Billboard’s sales tracking week ended Feb. 15 — the day before the movie opened in theaters. Now that the movie is out (and is the No. 1 film in the country), the soundtrack is a lock to hold at No. 1 next week.

Kendrick Lamar, left, and Chadwick Boseman (Photos: Entertainment Weekly)

Black Panther: The Album posted 138.9 million on-demand audio streams for its songs in the week ending Feb. 15. That’s the biggest streaming week ever for a soundtrack — more than tripling the 40.4 million on-demand audio streams The Greatest Showman collected in the week ending Jan. 25.

Black Panther: The Album is also the first hip-hop soundtrack to reach No. 1 since Furious 7 in April 2015, and it will be the first hip-hop soundtrack to log two or more weeks at No. 1 since Bad Boy II spent four weeks on top in August 2003.

Black Panther has attracted considerable media attention because it features a mostly African-American cast (and director, Ryan Coogler) — important breakthroughs in a superhero film. In the same way, the soundtrack features an array of top black stars including Lamar, the Weeknd, Future, SZA, Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Khalid, and Travis Scott. (Lamar curated and produced the album with music mogul Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith.) Black Panther: The Album has already spawned two top 10 hits on the Hot 100, The Weeknd and Lamar’s “Pray for Me” and Lamar and SZA’s “All the Stars.”

Black Panther: The Album moved 154,000 “equivalent units” — a figure that combines traditional album sales (52,000, in this case), digital sales, and streaming activity. This is the biggest week for a soundtrack — in terms of total “equivalent units” earned — in 18 months. The last soundtrack to score a larger week was Suicide Squad: The Album, which debuted atop the Aug. 27, 2016-dated chart with 182,000 units earned.

Here’s an odd wrinkle: Of Black Panther: The Album ’s 14 songs, just three are heard in the film. This isn’t the first chart-topping soundtrack to consist mostly of music inspired by, but not actually heard in, its companion movie. This was also the case with such soundtracks as The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond (2012) and Men in Black: The Album (1997).

Black Panther is the second soundtrack to reach No. 1 so far in 2018. It follows The Greatest Showman, which spent two weeks on top in January. This is the first time since 1997 that soundtracks to two theatrically released films have reached No. 1 in the first quarter of the year. The soundtracks that topped the chart in the first quarter of that year were Gridlock’d and Private Parts.

Two other soundtracks appear in the top five this week. The Greatest Showman holds at No. 3 in its 10th week, and Fifty Shades Freed debuts at No. 5. This is the first time that three soundtracks have ranked in the top five in the same week since May 30, 2015, when Pitch Perfect 2 debuted at No. 1, Fifty Shades of Grey rebounded to No. 3, and Furious 7 rebounded to No. 5.

All three of the soundtracks in the steamy Fifty Shades franchise have made the top five. Fifty Shades of Grey peaked at No. 2 in 2015. Fifty Shades Darker hit No. 1 in 2017. Fifty Shades Freed features songs by Liam Payne, Rita Ora, Julia Michaels, Jessie J, and Sia.

The Greatest Showman soundtrack has ranked in the top three for the past seven weeks. The soundtrack is doing even better in the U.K., where it’s spending its sixth week at No. 1 on the Official U.K. Albums Chart.

Top Songs

Drake’s “God’s Plan,” which entered the Hot 100 at No. 1 three weeks ago, sits tight in its fourth week. “God’s Plan” is the first song to spend its first four weeks at No. 1 since Adele’s “Hello” spent its first 10 weeks on top in 2015-2016. “God’s Plan” posted 75.5 million U.S. streams this week. It’s the first to song to have at least 75 million U.S. streams for four weeks, according to Nielsen Music.

“God’s Plan” sold 56K digital copies this week, which allows it to log its third week at No. 1 on Top Digital Songs. It also logs its fourth week at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and on The Official U.K. Singles Chart.

Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” holds at No. 2 in its 25th week. The song logged six weeks at No. 1.

Bruno Mars & Cardi B’s “Finesse” holds at No. 3 in its seventh week. It’s vying to become Mars’s eighth No. 1 hit; Cardi B’s second.

Camila Cabello’s “Havana” (featuring Young Thug) holds at No. 4 in its 27th week. The song reached No. 1.

Post Malone’s “Rockstar” (featuring 21 Savage) holds at No. 5 in its 22nd week. The song has ranked in the top five the entire time. It spent eight weeks at No. 1.

BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive” (featuring Drake) is this week’s top new entry at No. 6. It’s BlocBoy JB’s first chart entry. It’s Drake’s 23rd top 10 hit, which extends his record for the most top 10 hits by a rapper. Jay-Z is second with 21, followed by Lil Wayne with 20.

“Meant to Be” by Bebe Rehxa & Florida Georgia Line jumps from No. 9 to No. 7 in its 17th week. This enables it to tie “Me, Myself & I,” Rexha’s 2016 collaboration with G-Eazy, as her highest-charting hit to date. “Meant to Be” holds at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs for the 12th consecutive week.

Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” drops from No. 6 to No. 8 in its 29th week. The song spent two weeks at No. 1 on The Official U.K. Singles Chart last August.

“All The Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA vaults from No. 31 to No. 9 in its sixth week. It’s Lamar’s seventh top 10 hit; SZA’s second. It’s the second top 10 hit from Blank Panther: The Album, following “Pray for Me” by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar, which drops from No. 7 to No. 11 in its second week.

Migos’ “Stir Fry” drops from its No. 8 peak to No. 10 in its eighth week.

Halsey’s “Bad at Love” drops out of the top 10 this week.

Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still” tops the 1 million mark in digital sales this week. The song peaked at No. 4. It won a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. It beat a much bigger hit, Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” (featuring Justin Bieber), which has sold 2,806,000 digital copies.

Top Albums

Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods dips from No. 1 to No. 2 in its second week. The album outsold Black Panther: The Album in traditional album sales (54K to 52K), but lost out when digital track sales and streaming were factored in.

Migos’s Culture II drops from No. 2 to No. 4 in its third week. The album debuted at No. 1.

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ drops from No. 4 to No. 6 in its 50th week. The album spent its first two weeks at No. 1.

Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic drops from No. 5 to No. 7 in its 65th week. The album debuted and peaked at No. 2.

Post Malone’s Stoney drops from No. 6 to No. 8 in its 62nd week. The album peaked at No. 4.

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. drops from No. 7 to No. 9 in its 44th week. The album spent four weeks at No. 1.

Camila Cabello’s Camila drops from No. 8 to No. 10 in its fifth week. The album debuted at No. 1.

Two albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Lil Uzi Vert’s Luv Is Rage 2 drops from No. 9 to No. 11.  NOW 65 drops from No. 10 to No.27.

Hamilton: An American Musical rebounds from No. 24 to No. 20 in its 125th chart week. The original Broadway cast recording peaked at No. 3.Hamilton has sold 1,466,000 copies in traditional album sales, which makes it the fifth best-selling cast album of the Nielsen era (which dates to 1991). It trails the highlights edition of the original London cast recording of The Phantom of the Opera, (4.97 million), the original Broadway cast recording of Wicked (2.73 million), the original cast recording of Mamma Mia! (1.72 million) and the original Broadway cast recording of Les Miserables (1.66 million).

Chris Stapleton’s From A Room: Volume 2 dips from No. 23 to No. 24 in its 11th week. The album debuted and peaked at No. 2. The album logs its fourth week at No. 1 on Top Country Albums.

Ed Sheeran’s jumps from No. 48 to No. 44 in its 191st chart week. The album debuted at No. 1. The album logs its 10th week at No. 1 on Top Catalog Albums.

Coming Attractions: Look for high debuts next week by Nipsey Hussle’s debut album, Victory Lap, and Brandi Carlile’s By the Way, I Forgive You.

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