Taylor Swift dominates the Billboard album chart once again this week, while Cardi B lands perhaps the raunchiest No. 1 single in history.
Swift’s “Folklore,” which was released last month with less than 24 hours’ notice, remains the No. 1 album for a third time, with the equivalent of 136,000 sales in the United States, according to Nielsen, barely changed from last week. But the mix of data within that composite number shows how Swift’s rollout plan helped her stay at the top.
For its first two weeks, the array of collectible physical versions of the album that Swift offered fans were available only through her website. So when “Folklore” came out, a whopping 73 percent of its opening-week total was attributed to copies sold as a full package. In Week 2, with streams still strong but CD and vinyl copies not yet in stores, complete albums made up just 23 percent of the total.
In Week 3, with physical albums finally available from sellers like Target — which offered exclusive versions, as it has in the past — the sales ticked up again. According to Nielsen, 67,000 of its total this week, or nearly half, came from sales of the album, while the number of streams dropped by a third, to 90 million.
Also this week, Juice WRLD’s “Legends Never Die” is No. 2, Pop Smoke’s “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon” is No. 3 and Rod Wave’s “Pray 4 Love” is No. 4. The country star Luke Bryan opened at No. 5 with his new album, “Born Here Live Here Die Here.”
On the Hot 100 singles chart, Cardi B’s “WAP,” featuring Megan Thee Stallion, opened at No. 1 with 93 million streams in the United States, which Billboard said is the most for any track in its debut week. The song, a paean to female sexual desire, is almost certainly the most graphic and explicit song ever to reach the top — although much of its traffic came from a censored YouTube video that, while certainly suggestive, was perhaps more PG-13 than X-rated.