Years change, chart rules change, but Taylor Swift stays on top. The industry-dominating singer/songwriter’s 1989 beat out Disney’s Frozen soundtrack at the final buzzer to become the best-selling album of 2014. Now, the “Blank Space“-spawning full-length is No. 1 on the first Billboard 200 chart of 2015.
In the week that ended January 4, according to Nielsen Music, 1989 moved 244,000 of the new “album equivalent units,” which take into account streaming and song downloads. Swift’s latest has now spent eight nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1, more than 2012′s Red (seven weeks) and 2010′s Speak Now (six weeks). Her sophomore album, 2008′s Fearless, is still her longest-running chart-topper (13 weeks) — at least for now.
Ooga-chaka! Beyond Swift, the most noteworthy development on the chart came courtesy of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. The music from 2014′s biggest blockbuster film jumped from No. 9 to No. 5 on the Billboard 200 (70K). But all of those album equivalent units were from pure album sales. As Billboard notes, soundtracks generally do well on the charts in early January, perhaps due to gift cards, and various digital retailers were offering Guardians at a discount last week.
Elsewhere, the new math is beginning to add up. Ariana Grande’s My Everything stayed in place at No. 10 (43K). If Billboard hadn’t updated its chart methodology late last year to include streaming and track sales, the album would have been only No. 26.
As for the rest of the top 10, Nicki Minaj’s The Pinkprint sticks at No. 2 (84K), Ed Sheeran’s x jumps to No. 3 (83K — those gift cards again?) and Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour ticks upward to No. 4 (82K). Following Guardians, we have Hozier’s Hozier (No. 6, 60K), J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive (No. 7, 59K), Disney’s Into the Woods soundtrack (No. 8, 57K) and One Direction’s Four (No. 9, 55K) before wrapping up with Grande’s My Everything.
It’s worth keeping in mind that sales in general were in a slump after the holiday. Into the Woods was the only album in the Billboard 200′s top 50 to see a sales increasing, gaining 9 percent. Overall sales were down 47 percent from the previous week. It’s not immediately clear how total sales compare to their 2014 equivalent, but in the first tracking week of last year, chart-topper Frozen (yes, that one again) sold 165K, which is actually less than the 172K pure album sales for Swift’s 1989.
Looking ahead, next week’s chart might find a place for Rae Sremmurd’s SremmLife, but in a slow week for releases, Swift’s 1989 shouldn’t have much trouble holding down the top spot for a ninth time.