Drake’s Surprise Tops Album Chart, Holds Back ‘Fifty Shades’

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 02.18.15 in News

If you’re reading this, Drake‘s collection of music released without warning last week has already gone No. 1. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late enters the Billboard 200 right at the top. Billed as a mixtape, the retail set shifted 535,000 equivalent album units for the week ending February 15, including 495,000 pure album sales, according to Nielsen Music.

That’s good for Drake’s fourth No. 1 on the chart, whether he wants to call If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late an album or not. His next proper LP, Views From the 6, is expected later this year. (For now, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is available only digitally.) Surprises pay off: The last R&B/hip-hop album to do better in a given sales frame was Beyoncé’s stealthy self-titled effort in late 2013 (617K), and no album overall has had a better sales week than this since Taylor Swift‘s 1989 opened with almost 1.3 million sold last fall.

Drake’s unexpected gift also saves us from a week that otherwise would have had the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack at No. 1. The newly released compilation (No. 2, 258K equivalent units) includes songs from Beyoncé (“Crazy in Love” and “Haunted” remixes), the Weeknd (“Earned It”) and Ellie Goulding (Max Martin team-up “Love Me Like You Do“).

Beyond Aubrey “Drake” Graham and that movie about BDSM, the most noteworthy activity in the top 10 followed from the Grammy Awards. Sam Smith, who won four Grammys on February 8, saw a 91 percent gain for his In the Lonely Hour (No. 3, 164K). Beck’s Morning Phase, which nabbed Album of the Year in what turned out to be a dramatic moment, gained 483 percent, surging from the 39th spot (No. 8, 71K).

If you’re reading this, we regret to inform you that you’ve reached the relatively uneventful portion of the chart: Ed Sheeran’s x (No. 4, 140K), Taylor Swift’s previously chart-topping 1989 (No. 5, 125K), Meghan Trainor’s Title (No. 6, 72K), Now 53 (No. 7, 72K), 2015 Grammy Nominees (No.9, 65K) and Maroon 5′s V (No. 10, 63K). Surely just about everyone can agree that Morning Phase would be preferable to some of those.