Sales of Kanye West’s current album, Yeezus, dropped by 80 percent in its second week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s the steepest second-week percentage drop for an album that debuted at #1 since sales of Madonna’s MDNA plummeted by 87 percent in its second week in April 2012.
It’s not uncommon for sales to fall off sharply in their second week.Billboard reports that the average second-week drop for a #1-debuting album in 2013 is 69 percent. The mildest second-week decline for an album that debuted at #1 this year was Josh Groban’s All That Echoes, which fell by just 50 percent in its second week.
But 80 percent is on the high end. Only three other #1-debuting albums in Nielsen SoundScan history (which dates to 1991) have posted steeper second-week drops. (Significantly, they have all come in a little more than two years, a reflection of today’s front-loaded and volatile record market.) They are MDNA (an 87 percent drop), Lady Gaga’s Born This Way (a 84 percent drop in June 2011) and Mac Miller’s Blue Slide Park (a 83 percent drop in December 2011).
West’s camp was attempting a low-key launch for the album. The album arrived at retail without an official single. West made only one TV appearance (albeit a powerhouse one, a performance on Saturday Night Live) before the album came out. The low-key approach yielded low-wattage results. Two preview tracks from the album made the Hot 100 last week based on West’s name power, but both tumble this week. “New Slaves” drops from #56 to #90 in its second week. “Black Skinhead” drops from #69 to #86. On Tuesday, West’s record company, Def Jam, finally chose “Black Skinhead” as the official radio single. (The song is featured in trailers for the upcoming Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Wolf Of Wall Street.)
By way of comparison, sales of J. Cole’s Born Sinner, which also debuted last week, dropped by a somewhat less steep 72% this week. As a result, Born Sinner holds at #2 on The Billboard 200, while Yeezusdrops from #1 to #3. After two weeks, Born Sinner has sold 381K copies, just 11K fewer than Yeezus. The gap between these two artists’ last albums was much wider at this point. After two weeks, West’s 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had sold 605K copies—more than twice as many as J Cole’s 2011 album Cole World: The Sideline Story, which sold 272K copies in its first two weeks.
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