The chart gods giveth, and the chart gods taketh away. Last week’s Billboard 200 brought the Anomaly of a Christian rapper, Lecrae, in the leadoff spot. Another recent installment ratified Ariana Grande‘s recent singles dominance with her second No. 1 album. This week, the two names at the top of the charts are the extraordinarily odd couple of Barbra Streisand and Chris Brown.
All hails Babs: Her new album of collaborations, Partners, becomes her 10th Billboard 200 chart-topper, moving 196,000 units in the week that ended September 21, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Streisand is now the only person with a No. 1 album in each of the last six decades. She trumps Grande and Lana Del Rey for the biggest 2014 sales week by a female artist. In terms of No. 1 albums, the Oscar winner and evergreen Christmas caroler is now tied with Elvis Presley, behind only the Beatles (19), Jay Z (13) and Bruce Springsteen (11). Her run of chart dominance began just shy of 50 years ago, with People in October 1964.
Streisand must be the luckiest person in the world, because her sales numbers beat expectations and she couldn’t have done it without some help. Billboard cites her duet guests, for one, who include not just the likes of Josh Groban, Blake Shelton and Michael Buble but also Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and — in an, um, interesting choice — the late Elvis. Her first visit to The Tonight Show in 50 years didn’t hurt, either, among other TV appearances.
Oh, and there’s also that chart-goosing standby: discounts. Fans could buy Partners on iTunes or Amazon MP3 for $7.99, which if you don’t adjust for inflation probably isn’t much more than they originally paid for People on vinyl.
One hunch: Forecasters probably didn’t account for Duck Sauce.
Well, that must bring us to Brown, right? The former teen idol’s new album, X, debuts at No. 2 (146K). All six of his albums have hit the top 10, and this one actually did better than the last one. There was a stabbing after his Los Angeles show last night. You should read our features editor Claire Lobenfeld’s essay Rihanna Doesn’t Need Your Outrage, Chris Brown’s Struggle is His Own. Speaking of people who need people, Brown got support from Jimmy Fallon and Kendrick Lamar. Sorry, but no one has the right to diminish our appreciation of actual autumn leaves.
Still here? Told you it was a bizarre week. Next up, two new albums from country eminences: Tim McGraw‘s Sundown Heaven Town (No. 3, 71K) and George Strait‘s The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium (No. 4, 51K). Then comes “Meet Virginia” and “Drops of Jupiter” roots-pop guys Train with — how is this not a Kanye West album title? — Bulletproof Picasso (No. 5, 50K).
Hope you’re in the mood for some albums that have been around a couple of weeks. OneRepublic’s Native soars to No. 6 (49K) all the way from No. 57. Don’t worry, though Ryan Tedder has his moments, you probably didn’t miss any big event this week: Amazon was selling the album for 99 cents, AKA way less than a Streisand album during Johnson Administration. Due to a quirk of the rules Billboard adopted after a past Lady Gaga fire sale, the sales count for the charts — Billboard doesn’t include sales of albums priced below $3.49 in their first four weeks of release, but Native is 78 weeks old at this point. Also in albums that aren’t new: Maroon 5‘s V falls (No. 7, 34K), as does Lecrae’s Anomaly (No. 8, 31K).
Rounding out the top 10, metalcore crew Motionless in White notches its best sales frame yet with its new Reincarnate (No. 9, 31K), followed Slash’s World on Fire (No. 10, 29K). Those disappointed by this week’s charts or their lack of fresh platters from, say, Le Butcherettes or My Brightest Diamond should remember, apropos of the former Guns N’ Roses guitarist, that nothing lasts forever, even lukewarm September rain.