The blockbuster stage of the year’s music release calendar has arrived, with big numbers for Bad Bunny’s latest album on this week’s Billboard chart, and even bigger sales expected for Kendrick Lamar’s long-awaited, just-released return to next week’s chart.
“Un Verano Sin Ti,” the new album by Bad Bunny, the mega-streaming Puerto Rican superstar, opens at No. 1 with the equivalent of 274,000 sales in the United States, according to the tracking service Luminate. That is the biggest opening of any album so far this year — beating the record set last week by the rapper Future — and Bad Bunny’s second time at No. 1.
Bad Bunny has been Spotify’s most-streamed artist for the last two years running, so it’s no surprise that “Un Verano Sin Ti” racked up a huge number of clicks: 357 million, more than any release so far this year, and the best streaming week for any Latin album ever.
But what counts as a blockbuster these days? The numbers have been steadily declining, and what was once the universally recognized milestone of a megahit — one million sales in a single week — looks increasingly unlikely ever to be reached again.
The streaming total for “Un Verano” — which accounted for about 95 percent of its consumption in the United States — was certainly big, but it was less than half that of Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy,” which opened with 744 million last September. As a digital album, “Un Verano” sold only 12,000 copies.
Not so long ago, a common chart tactic was to bundle copies of albums, as downloads or CDs, with sales of concert tickets or merchandise. But after an industry uproar that such deals were distorting the picture of fan demand and skewing the charts, Billboard changed its rules two years ago to prevent most such deals from affecting chart positions.
Even without the rule change, appetites for albums, purchased whole, have been declining for years. Adele’s latest, “30,” opened last year with 839,000 “equivalent sales units” — a measurement that incorporates both sales and streaming — of which 692,000 were for sales of complete albums; in 2015, her previous album, “25,” opened with 3.4 million. No new album has sold a million copies in a single week since Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” had 1.2 million in 2017.
Among other notable new releases on this week’s chart, the rapper Jack Harlow opens at No. 3 with “Come Home the Kids Miss You,” which had the equivalent of 113,000 sales, including 137 million streams, and Arcade Fire’s “We” arrives at No. 6.
Future’s “I Never Liked You,” last week’s chart-topper, falls to No. 2, while Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous” is No. 4 and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” is No. 5.