NEW YORK • The two albums this year that made the biggest splashes, by far, on the Billboard chart were Drake's Views and Beyonce's Lemonade. But as 2016 draws to a close, there has been a close contest for the bronze. Late last month Metallica notched it, then The Weeknd. Now it is rapper J. Cole's turn.
Cole's new album, 4 Your Eyez Only, had a strong showing in its first week out, starting at No. 1 with the equivalent of 492,000 sales in the United States, according to Nielsen, easily topping The Weeknd's Starboy (which opened with 348,000) and Metallica's Hardwired...To Self-Destruct (291,000) for the third-best opening of the year.
Songs from 4 Your Eyez Only were streamed 177 million times in its first week, just more than the 175 million The Weeknd had two weeks ago. (Drake holds the weekly record with 245 million.) But Cole, an artist with an avid young following, also had strong sales, moving 363,000 copies of the full album, mostly as downloads. Each of his four albums has opened at No. 1.
Also this week, a cappella group Pentatonix has two holiday albums in the Top 5 after a television special last week. The new A Pentatonix Christmas is No. 2 and the two-year-old That's Christmas To Me is No. 5. Billboard noted that the double feat is usually achieved only after the sudden deaths of major artists, including Prince and David Bowie.
Starboy falls one spot to No. 3 in its third week out and Bruno Mars' 24K Magic is in fourth place.
Last week, The Hamilton Mixtape opened at No. 1, but this week it falls to No. 14, while the show's original cast album is No.7.
On the digital songs chart, Taylor Swift and Zayn Malik's single for Fifty Shades Darker, I Dont' Wanna Live Forever, took a commanding lead with 188,000 online sales. The ballad is the theme song for the latest movie in the Fifty Shades franchise. Fifty Shades Darker, starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan and Kim Basinger, opens worldwide in February.