NEW YORK • Five years ago, a teenager in New Zealand named Ella Yelich-O'Connor was uploading her songs to SoundCloud in obscurity. Before long, with the stage name Lorde, she became a platinum-selling, Grammy- winning pop star, and now, at age 20, she has her first No. 1 on the Billboard album chart.
Melodrama (Lava/Republic), her second album, squeezed ahead of rapper 2 Chainz's Pretty Girls Like Trap Music (Def Jam) in a close race for the top. It had the equivalent of 109,000 sales in the United States in its first week out, including 82,000 copies sold as a full album and 35 million song streams, according to Nielsen.
Lorde is the third consecutive female solo artist to top the chart after Katy Perry's Witness and Halsey's Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.
2 Chainz's album had the equivalent of 106,000 sales, including twice as many streams as Melodrama. But Pretty Girls sold only 57,000 copies as a full album, allowing Lorde to clinch the top spot.
Also this week, rapper Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. fell to third place in its 10th week out and two other new albums rounded out the Top 5: The Nashville Sound (Southeastern/Thirty Tigers) by country artists Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is No. 4, and Feed The Machine (BMG) by rockers Nickelback is No. 5.
Perry's album, which opened at No. 1 last week, dropped to No. 13, losing the equivalent of 85 per cent of first-week sales. Its advance first single, Chained To The Rhythm, reached No. 4, but since then, Witness has not produced any hits.