The chart road divided this week for two of the three participants in this year’s Super Bowl halftime show. On the one side, Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded easily grabbed the top spot on the latest Billboard album chart, moving 253,000 copies in an extremely respectable opening week. It’s her first debut at number one, though her 2010 debut Pink Friday did find the upper plateau several months after its release thanks to the late surge of “Super Bass” in early 2011.
The success of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is easy to see, as Minaj went on a media blitz that included a free surprise concert in Times Square and the continued success of the single “Starships” (which currently sits at number five on the Billboard Hot 100).
That’s all good news for Minaj, whose album has been met with mixed critical reactions but seems to be capitalizing on its everything to everyone approach. The outlooks is less rosy for Madonna, whose latest album MDNA posted the single biggest second week sales decrease for a number one debut since SoundScan started tracking official sales in 1991. MDNA moved 359,000 copies in its first week, giving Madonna one of the best opening weeks of her career. But in its second week, MDNA only shifted 48,000 copies—a drop-off of 86%, surpassing former record holder Lady Gaga, whose Born This Way dipped 84% after a massive opening stanza last year.
A number of issues conspired against Madonna’s latest. Though both her singles (the Minaj-assisted “Give Me All Your Luvin'” and “Girl Gone Wild”) have dominated the dance world, neither have caught fire in the mainstream (the former quickly surged to number 10 but then tumbled out of the Hot 100; it was back in last week at 87). Madonna hasn’t done much in the way of promotion outside of her music videos, and like Gaga before her, the first week sales were inflated. If you recall, Gaga’s Born This Way was available for a mere 99 cents in its first week, pushing the sales total well over a million copies but profoundly devaluing the album (and forcing Billboard to change its chart rules). In the case of MDNA, the album was made available as a toss-in when people bought tickets to Madonna’s upcoming tour. That’s not the same as discounting your album, and most of those people probably would have bought the album anyway, but it still probably unnaturally boosted Madge’s first week numbers.
Finally, one final point about this week’s album chart: Adele’s 21 came in at number two this week with 153,000 copies sold. That’s an increase of 26% from last week’s tally. The album has now been out for a ridiculous 59 weeks. Who are the 153,000 people who just decided to pick up a copy of 21? If you did, please tell us in the comments what finally pushed you to pick it up.