Chart Watch: Katy Perry's Disappointing Debut

Paul Grein
Yahoo Music
Singer Katy Perry performs during her 4-day tour “Katy Perry – Witness World Wide” at Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles, California U.S., June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Singer Katy Perry performs during her 4-day tour “Katy Perry – Witness World Wide” at Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles, California U.S., June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Katy Perry‘s fourth major-label album, Witness, enters the Billboard 200 at No. 1, but with sales tallies that are nothing to “roar” about. The album moved 180K in equivalent units in its first week, including 162K in traditional album sales. Perry’s previous studio album, PRISM, sold 286K in trad sales when it debuted in November 2013. Her album before that, Teenage Dream, sold 192K in trad sales when it debuted in September 2010.

Witness is Perry’s first album since the Billboard 200 converted to a “multi-metric” formula in late 2014. The new formula incorporates digital track sales and streaming as well as traditional album sales.

Witness is Perry’s third consecutive studio album to enter The Billboard 200 at No. 1. But the initial singles from the album haven’t matched the success of the initial singles from Perry’s past albums. The lead singles from each of her first three major-label albums reached No. 1 on the Hot 100. But the lead single Perry’s current album, “Chained to the Rhythm,” peaked at No. 4. Worse, the two follow-up singles that have been released—”Bon Appétit” and “Swish Swish”—have yet to crack the top 40.

What’s the problem? After nine years of stardom, it’s the natural arc of a career that sales taper off. Perry’s career peaked with Teenage Dream, which famously became just the second album in history (following Michael Jackson’s Bad) to spawn five No. 1 singles.

Perry continues to set records—just not with her new music. More than 49 million fans from 190 countries reportedly tuned in to her Witness livestream in a four-day period last week. In another indication of Perry’s ability to connect on a massive scale, last week she became the first person to reach 100 million Twitter followers.

This, too, is a common pattern. Fans may turn out for a concert tour by a veteran artist, but surprisingly few of them will spring for a new album—even though it probably costs less than parking at the  concert.

Witness enters The Official U.K. Albums Chart at a ho-hum No. 6. Teenage Dream and PRISM both reached No. 1 in that country.

The feminist in Perry will take cheer from the following items. On The Billboard 200, Witness displaces Halsey’s hopeless fountain kingdom, which debuted at No. 1 last week. This marks the first time that female solo artists have debuted at No. 1 in back-to-back weeks since October 2015, when Janet Jackson’s Unbreakable and Selena Gomez’s Revival achieved the feat.

Look for Lorde’s Melodrama to debut at No. 1 next week. That would mark the first time that female solo artists have debuted at No. 1 in three consecutive weeks since September 2009, when Reba McEntire’s Keep on Loving You, Colbie Caillat’s Breakthrough and Whitney Houston’s I Look to You did this.

Top Songs

Justin Bieber does something this week that nobody has done before—he has the three best-selling digital downloads of the week. (He is a featured artist on all three of the hits). Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” holds at No. 1 on Top Digital Songs for the seventh week. DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One” (which also features Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne) holds at No. 2. David Guetta’s “2U” debuts at No. 3.

Bieber surpasses eight artists who each had the week’s top two best-selling digital hits. They are Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, The Black Eyed Peas, Kesha, Taylor Swift (who did it twice), Iggy Azalea, Prince (who did it posthumously) and Ed Sheeran.

All three of Bieber’s songs are high on the Hot 100, which is based on a combination of digital sales, radio airplay and streaming data. “Despacito” logs its sixth week at No. 1 (in its 22nd week on the chart). “I’m the One” moves up to No. 2 (in its seventh week on the chart). “2U” debuts at No. 16.

This is the second time that Bieber has had the top two songs on the Hot 100. He had the top two for two weeks running in February 2016 with “Sorry” and “Love Yourself.”

“Despacito” sold 140K digital copies this week, which brings its U.S. sales to date to 1,163,000. It is well on its way to becoming the Song of the Summer. It may even give Sheeran’s “Shape of You” a run for its money as the best-selling single of 2017. (“Shape of You” is up to 2,112,000 in U.S. sales.)

“Despacito” has allowed Bieber to set another record: He has had amassed more No. 1 hits on the Hot 100 (five) than another other Canadian artist. He pulls ahead of Bryan Adams and Celine Dion, who have each had four No. 1 hits, and Drake, Nelly Furtado and The Weeknd, who have each had three.

“Despacito” is No. 1 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart for the sixth week.

Bruno Mars’s “That’s What I Like” dips from No. 2 to No. 3 in its 22nd week on the Hot 100. The song hit No. 1. The peppy tune is also No. 1 for the 11th week on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” holds at No. 4 in its 23rd week. The song logged 12 weeks at No. 1. It’s the first song in Hot 100 history to spend its first 23 weeks in the top five.

Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.” holds at No. 5 in its 11th week. The song reached No. 1.

Future’s “Mask Off” holds at No. 6 in its 17th week. The song has climbed as high as No. 5.

“Something Just Like This” by the Chainsmokers and Coldplay inches up from No. 8 to No. 7 in its 17th week. The song peaked at No. 3. This is the 59th 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.

“Stay” by Zedd & Alessia Cara inches up from No. 9 to No. 8 in its 16th week. The song has climbed as high as No. 7.

Post Malone’s “Congratulations” (featuring Quavo) inches up from No. 10 to No. 9 in its 25th week.

Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO TOUR Llif3” drops from its No. 7 peak to No. 10 in its 12th week.

Halsey lands her first top 20 hit as a lead artist as “Now or Never” jumps from No. 21 to No. 20 in its 10th week.

The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down” (featuring Daya) tops the 2 million mark in digital sales this week. The song reached No. 3 and won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording.  The duo’s subsequent hit, “Closer” (featuring Halsey) was an even bigger hit. It has sold 2,784,000 copies.

Top Albums

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

SZA’s debut album, Ctrl, opens at No. 3. This is the highest ranking for the debut album by a female soul singer since Kehlani’s SweetSexySavage opened at No. 3 in February. (This week marks the first time that two female artists have entered the chart inside the top five in the same week since September, when albums by Barbra Streisand and Britney Spears debuted at No. 1 and No. 3, respectively.)

Lady Antebellum lands its seventh top 10 album as Heart Break debuts at No. 4. The album enters Top Country Albums at No. 1, displacing Luke Combs’ This One’s for You. This is the trio’s fifth No. 1 country album.

Drake’s More Life inches up from No. 6 to No. 5 in its 13th week. It spent its first three weeks on top.

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ inches up from No. 7 to No. 6 in its 15th week. It spent its first two weeks at No. 1.

Halsey’s hopeless fountain kingdom drops from No. 1 to No. 7 in its second week.

Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic jumps from No. 10 to No. 8 in its 30th week. The album has yet to fall out of the top 10. It logged four weeks at No. 2.

Rise Against lands its fifth consecutive top 10 album as Wolves debuts at No. 9.

Post Malone’s Stoney rebounds from No. 12 to No. 10 in its 27th week. The album has climbed as high as No. 6.

Five albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Three of them fall completely off the chart. They are: All Time Low’s Last Young Renegade and a pair of compilations, EPIC AF (Yellow/Pink) and Summer Latin Hits 2017. The compilations fell off the chart because of a change in chart methodology. Starting this week, only traditional sales will count toward the charting of compilations by Various Artists.

Two other albums fell out of the top 10, but they remained on the chart. The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band drops from No. 4 to No. 11 in its 197th chart week. The album is No. 1 on Top Catalog Albums for the fourth non-consecutive week. Luke Combs’ This One’s for You drops from No. 5 to No. 33.

The Moana soundtrack rebounds from No. 19 to No. 16 in its 30th week. The album peaked at No. 2.  Moana logs its 11th week at No. 1 on the Top Soundtracks chart.

Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie debuts at No. 17. The two stars first cracked the top 20 the week of Sept. 6, 1975 with Fleetwood Mac’s breakthrough album, Fleetwood Mac.

The Broadway cast album from Dear Evan Hansen vaults from No. 147 to No. 44 in the wake of the Tony Awards, where the show won six awards, including Best Musical. The album debuted and peaked at No. 8 in February. But you know what? Even with this surge, it’s still behind the cast album of Hamilton (which inches up from No. 26 to No. 25). Hamilton, of course, won Best Musical at the 2016 Tonys.

Glen Campbell’s final studio album, Adios, debuts at No. 40. The country legend first cracked the top 40 in April 1968 with By the Time I Get to Phoenix.

Metallica’s 1988 album, …And Justice for All, tops the 6 million mark in traditional album sales this week. The band’s following studio album, 1991’s Metallica, is the sales leader since Nielsen began tracking sales in 1991. It has sold 16,594,000 copies in traditional album sales.

Coming Attractions: Look for big debuts next week by Lorde’s Melodrama and 2 Chainz’s Pretty Girls Like Trap Music.




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