Future Makes History With Back-to-Back No. 1 Debuts on Billboard 200 Albums Chart
Plus, Little Big Town & Aaron Watson debut in the top 10.
Future is the first act in the nearly 61-year history of the chart to achieve back-to-back No. 1 debuts in successive weeks. The rapper is also the first artist to succeed himself at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 at all (counting not only debuts) since 1968. He’s additionally the first soloist ever to claim the honor.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new March 18-dated chart will be posted in full to Billboard’s websites on Tuesday, March 7.
HNDRXX bows with 121,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending March 2, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 48,000 were in traditional album sales, 63,000 were in SEA and 11,000 were in TEA. (All units are rounded to the nearest thousand.) HNDRXX was released on Feb. 24 through A-1/Freebandz/Epic Records. It follows Future’s self-titled No. 1 debut, which was issued on the same imprints/label, on Feb. 17. The self-titled album slips from No. 1 to No. 2 on the latest chart with 64,000 units (down 54 percent).
With Future’s HNDRXX at No. 1 and his self-titled release at No. 2, the rapper is the first act in nearly one year to have both the Nos. 1 and 2 albums simultaneously. The last act to do so was Prince, following his death last year, when, on the May 7-dated chart, he re-entered the list at No. 1 with The Very Best of Prince and at No. 2 with the Purple Rain soundtrack. Before that, Nelly was the last act to manage the achievement, way back on Oct. 2, 2004, when he debuted at Nos. 1 and 2 with Suit and Sweat, respectively.
Only nine acts, including Future, have been Nos. 1 and 2 at the same time since 1963, when Billboard combined the Billboard 200 from previously separate mono and stereo album charts into one overall list.
It’s unusual that an artist would release two studio albums in such quick succession. In the past, acts have chosen to release two albums at the same time (for example, Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I and II and Nelly’s Sweat and Suit) or within less than a year of one another (Justin Timberlake’s chart topping albums The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2).
Future is the first act to replace himself at No. 1 since 1968, when Simon & Garfunkel did it (twice!) with Bookends and the soundtrack to The Graduate. (Neither album debuted at No. 1.) In total, since 1963, Future is just the sixth act — and first soloist — to supplant itself at No. 1, following Simon & Garfunkel, The Monkees, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, The Beatles and Peter, Paul & Mary.
HNDRXX is Future’s fifth No. 1 album. It follows his self-titled set, Evol (2016), What a Time to Be Alive (with Drake) and DS2 (both in 2015).
At No. 3 on the new Billboard 200 is Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic, slipping down one slot with 58,000 units (down 2 percent).
Country quartet Little Big Town lands its fourth top 10 album, as The Breaker bows at No. 4 with 51,000 units (44,000 from traditional album sales). The group previously visited the top 10 with Pain Killer (No. 7 in 2014), Tornado (No. 2, 2012) and The Reason Why (No. 5, 2010).
Little Big Town has the second-most top 10s among country duo/groups this decade, trailing only Lady Antebellum, which has five top 10s since 2010. (Lady Antebellum has a total of six top 10s, stretching back to its 2008 self-titled release.)
The Breaker was led by the Taylor Swift-written single “Better Man,” which spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart (the group’s third leader on the tally). Over on the Country Airplay chart, it has spent the last two weeks atop the list — the act’s second No. 1, following 2012’s “Pontoon.”
At No. 5 on the Billboard 200, the Trolls soundtrack surges up five rungs with a 35 percent gain (rising to to 50,000 units). It sold 35,000 copies (up 41 percent) in the tracking week. The increases are likely owed to ABC TV’s broadcast of the Academy Awards (Feb. 28), which opened with a performance of the album’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake (it was nominated for best original song).
The Oscars also shine on the Moana soundtrack, which climbs from No. 16 to No. 8 with 39,000 units (up 65 percent) and 21,000 in sales (up 77 percent). The show featured a performance of the album’s Oscar-nominated “How Far I’ll Go” by Auli’i Cravalho and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Outside the top 10, the La La Land soundtrack — which houses the best original song winner, “City of Stars” — rises 18-11 with 37,000 units (up 57 percent) and 24,000 in sales (up 51 percent).
Back in the top 10, Migos’ Culture dips a slot to No. 6 with 47,000 units (down 6 percent). The Weeknd’s Starboy falls 4-7 with 46,000 units (down 8 percent) and, below Moana, Big Sean’s I Decided. moves down three positions to No. 9 with a little more than 39,000 units (down 20 percent).
Closing out the top 10 is country singer Aaron Watson, who notches his first top 10 set with the arrival of Vaquero (39,000 units; 37,000 in traditional album sales). Watson made his national Billboard chart debut more than 10 years ago, when his San Angelo album debuted on the Top Country Albums chart dated April 22, 2006. He arrived on the Billboard 200 two years later, with Angels & Outlaws (April 19, 2008).
Vaquero is Watson’s fifth charting set on the Billboard 200, and each successive release has reached a higher peak. Angels & Outlaws reached No. 175 in 2008, The Road & The Rodeo hit No. 150 in 2010, Real Good Time topped out at No. 81 in 2012 and The Underdog hit No. 14 in 2015.