With all this talk of Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and the rest of the fall diva lineup, you would think there would be no room for a bunch of casually dressed dudes playing guitars. But as this week’s album chart shows, the market still demands the occasional infusion of good old-fashioned rock.
Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt took the number one spot on this week’s Billboard 200 with 166,000 copies sold in its first week of release. That’s the largest opening week for a rock album in a year (Phillip Phillips’ The World From the Side of the Moon, if you count that as rock, sold 169,000 in its opening frame last November), though it’s below the first week numbers for Pearl Jam’s last album (Backspacer did 189,000 during its kickoff week in 2009), and well below 2013’s bigger debuts like Justin Timberlake and Drake.
Still, it’s Pearl Jam’s fifth chart-topper, a list that also includes Backspacer, No Code, Vitalogy, and Vs., the latter of which moved a then-record 950,000 units during its first week of release in 1993.
It was a healthy week for rock in general, though — Paul McCartney’s New sold 67,000 copies, which was good enough for a third place opening. A little ways behind Macca in the number five slot sit the Avett Brothers, whose Magpie and the Dandelion sold 58,000 copies in its first week.
Three other guitar-centric albums also debuted in the top 10: Scott McCreery’s See You Tonight (number six, 52,000 sold), Willie Nelson’s To All The Girls (number nine, 43,000), and the Head and the Heart’s Let’s Be Still (number 10, 42,000). That’s a particularly powerful week for the folkies in the Head and the Heart—they had previously sold no more than 4,000 albums in any given week.
Last week’s chart-topper, Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz, took quite a tumble. While it only slid from the top position to number two, it fell 73 percent for a second week sales tally of 72,000. Second frame plummets are common, though anything over 70 percent is generally cause for concern. However, it’s not all bad news for Cyrus: “Wrecking Ball” remains a constant threat to return to the top of the Hot 100, as its airplay numbers and streaming stats continue to climb. The catbird seat on that chart, however, still belongs to Lorde’s “Royals,” which is number one for a fourth week in a row.
According to Billboard, “Wrecking Ball” very nearly returned to the top of the Hot 100 this week, which means that “Royals” may be on the down swing and another song could swoop in and take the top slot. Perhaps it’ll be one of the big gainers on this week’s Hot 100, which include Eminem’s “Rap God” (which debuts at number seven) and Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” (which holds at number four but continues to gain radio and streaming traction).