Chart Watch: 'Sgt. Pepper' Sitting Pretty at 50

Paul Grein
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band re-enters the Billboard 200 at No. 3, thanks to the release of a deluxe reissue pegged to the album’s 50th anniversary. This is the first time in chart history that a 50-year-old album has appeared in the top 10.

The old record for the oldest album to appear in the top 10 was set in June 2014, when Led Zeppelin’s eponymous debut album, then 45 years and five months old, charted at No. 7. (The old record for the oldest album to appear in the top five was set in June 2015, when the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, then 44 years and two months old, charted at No. 5.)

The Fine Print: The Beatles’ Live at the Hollywood Bowl rose to No. 7 last September, more than 50 years after the tracks were recorded. The tracks were more than 50 years old, but the album wasn’t. The tracks were first released as an album, The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, in 1977.

Sgt. Pepper’s was the week’s No. 1 album in traditional album sales, but it lost out to R&B star Bryson Tiller when digital track sales and streaming were factored in. (Since late 2014, The Billboard 200 has been based on a “multi-metric” formula.) Every other album in this week’s top five is R&B or hip-hop, which is a sign of the times.

This is the highest that a catalog album has appeared on the Billboard 200 since Prince and the Revolution’s Purple Rain was No. 3 in May 2016, two weeks after Prince’s death.

This is the first time Sgt. Pepper’s has appeared in the top three since the last week of 1967, when the album was No. 3 behind a Monkees album and a greatest hits album by Diana Ross & the Supremes. This is the first time the Beatles have appeared as high as No. 3 since March 2001, when their hits compilation 1 ranked No. 3 following a long run at No. 1.

Sgt. Pepper’s has sold 4,894,000 copies in traditional album sales since 1991, when Nielsen began tracking music sales. It of course sold millions more in its first 24 years of release.

The Beatles first cracked the top five in February 1964 with Meet the Beatles! That gives them a span of top five albums of 53 years and four months. A record? Nope. Frank Sinatra has had top five albums spanning 56 years and four months. He first scored in April 1956 with Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!. His most recent appearance in the top five was in August 2012 with the compilation Nothing but the Best.

Sgt. Pepper’s returns to No. 1 on Top Catalog Albums, displacing Soundgarden’s Superunknown. This is the first time that Sgt. Pepper’s has topped the catalog chart since November 1992, shortly after its 25th anniversary.

Sgt. Pepper’s re-enters the Official U.K. Albums Chart at No. 1. This is the album’s 28th week at No. 1. It’s the best-selling studio album in U.K. history, with sales of more than 5 million. The only albums to sell more copies in the U.K. are Queen’s Greatest Hits and Abba’s Gold—Greatest Hits.

Top Songs

Justin Bieber is featured on two of the top three songs on the Hot 100 for the fourth consecutive week. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” (featuring Bieber) holds at No. 1 in its 20th week. DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One” (featuring Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne) holds at No. 3 in its fifth week.

This is the fourth week at No. 1 for “Despacito.” It’s Bieber’s longest-running No. 1 hit to date. It surpasses “Sorry,” which spent three weeks on top in early 2016. It is the second longest-running No. 1 that was sung predominately (or entirely) in Spanish. It trails Los Del Rio’s “Macarena,” which spent 14 weeks on top in 1996. In third place: Los Lobos’ “La Bamba,” which had three weeks on top in 1987.

“Despacito” sold 148K digital copies this week, which puts it at No. 1 on Top Digital Songs for the fifth week. It’s in its 20th week on that chart. This is  the first time has a song that old has ranked No. 1 since Flo Rida’s “My House” topped the digital chart in its 25th and 26th weeks in February 2016.

“Despacito” and “I’m the One” hold down the top two spots in the U.K. for the fourth straight week. “Despacito” becomes the longest-running No. 1 hit in U.K. chart history that is sung in a foreign language. It surpasses Manhattan Transfer’s 1977 hit “Chanson D’Amour,” which spent three weeks on top.

It was a static top 10 this week. The top nine songs remain in the same positions as last week.

Bruno Mars’s “That’s What I Like” holds at No. 2 in its 20th week. The song hit No. 1.

Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.” holds at No. 4 in its ninth week. The song reached No. 1.

Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” holds at No. 5 in its 21st week. The song logged 12 weeks at No. 1.

Future’s “Mask Off” holds at No. 6 in its 15th week. The song has climbed as high as No. 5.

“Stay” by Zedd & Alessia Cara holds at No. 7 in its 14th week. This equals its highest ranking to date.

“Something Just Like This” by the Chainsmokers and Coldplay holds at No. 8 in its 15th week. The song peaked at No. 3. This is the 57th consecutive week that The Chainsmokers have had one or more songs in the top 10. Only Katy Perry has had more continuous weeks in the top 10—69 in 2010-11.

Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO TOUR Llif3” holds at No. 9 in its 10th week. The song reached No. 8.

Post Malone’s “Congratulations” (featuring Quavo) jumps from No. 13 to No. 10 in its 23rd week. It’s the highest-ranking song that moved up on this week’s chart. It’s Quavo’s third top 10 hit as a featured solo artist so far this year. It follows Drake’s “Portland” (which also featured Travis Scott) and DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One.” Quavo also scored as a member of Migos on the chart-topping “Bad and Boujee.”

“It Ain’t Me” by Kygo and Selena Gomez drops out of the top 10 this week.

French Montana lands his second top 20 hit as “Unforgettable” (featuring Swae Lee) jumps from No. 23 to No. 18 in its eighth week. The rapper from Morocco was featured on Chris Brown’s top 10 hit “Loyal.” Two other artists land their first top 20 hits this week. Childish Gambino scores with “Redbone,” which jumps from No. 22 to No. 17 in its 26th week. Ayo & Teo scores with “Rolex,” which advances from No. 31 to No. 20 in its 16th week.

Top Albums

R&B star Bryson Tiller lands his first No. 1 album as his sophomore album True to Self enters The Billboard 200 in the top spot. Tiller’s debut, Trapsoul, reached No. 8 in January 2016.

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. holds at No. 2 in its seventh week. The album spent its first three weeks at No. 1.

Did you notice the top two albums this week are both by artists whose first names are also the last names of famous R&B stars? Bryson Tiller shares his name with balladeer Peabo Bryson. Kendrick Lamar shares his name with Eddie Kendrick, a former member of the Temptations who went on to solo success (as Eddie Kendricks). In Lamar’s case, at least, it’s not just a coincidence. His mother named him Kendrick in honor of the Motown star.

Drake’s More Life holds at No. 4 in its 11th week. It spent its first three weeks on top.

Lil Yachty’s debut album, Teenage Emotions, opens at No. 5. Lil Yachty, 19, has been featured on two top five hits on the Hot 100 so far this year—D.R.A.M.’s “Broccoli” and Kyle’s “iSpy.”

Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic inches up from No. 7 to No. 6 in its 28th week. The album has yet to fall out of the top 10. It logged four weeks at No. 2.

Chris Stapleton’s From a Room: Volume 1 drops from No. 5 to No. 7 in its fourth week. The album debuted and peaked at No. 2. It’s No. 1 on Top Country Albums for the third week.

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ drops from No. 6 to No. 8 in its 13th week. It spent its first two weeks at No. 1.

Summer Latin Hits 2017 debuts at No. 9. The album contains the No. 1 hit in the country (and around the world), “Despacito.” The album sold fewer than 1,000 copies in traditional album sales, but made it the to the top 10 on the strength of digital track sales and streaming.

Harry Styles’s eponymous debut album drops from No. 3 to No. 10 in its third week. The album debuted at No. 1.

Linkin Park’s One More Light dives from No. 1 to No. 30 in its second week. That’s the steepest fall for an album in its second week since Bon Jovi’s This House Is Not for Sale plummeted from No. 1 to No. 43 in its second week last November. Three other albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 drops from No. 8 to No. 16. EPIC AF (Yellow/Pink) drops from No. 9 to No. 11. Migos’ Culture drops from No. 10 to No. 14. (Guardians 2 is No. 1 on the Top Soundtracks chart for the fifth week.)

Temple of the Dog’s eponymous album tops the 2 million mark in traditional sales this week, a few weeks after the death of band member Chris Cornell. The album reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200 in September 1992.

Coming Attractions: Look for Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom to debut at No. 1 next week. Also due: Luke Combs’ This One’s for You and Roger Waters’ Is This the Life We Really Want?