Ed Sheeran scores his fifth No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart (dated May 20) as – (pronounced Subtract) debuts in the top slot. Further, it does so with his largest sales week since 2017 – thus bigger than any week posted by Sheeran’s last two albums (2021’s Equals and 2019’s No. 6 Collaborations Project).
Subtract starts with 81,000 copies sold in the United States in the week ending May 11, according to Luminate. It’s the 10th-largest sales week of 2023 for any album, and the fifth-largest for a non-K-pop title.
Subtract’s sales were aided by its availability in both a standard 14-track and 18-track edition (digital download, CD and vinyl). The set was also available in nine vinyl variants (including exclusives for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent record stores, Target, Urban Outfitters and Walmart) and multiple CD iterations in collectible packages (including a signed CD, a version with a lenticular cover, a “textured sand” cover and a “Zine” CD package).
Also in the top 10 of the new Top Album Sales chart, LE SSERAFIM’s Unforgiven debuts at No. 2, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3: Awesome Mix Vol. 3 soundtrack bows at, appropriately, No. 3, and The Smashing Pumpkins’ ATUM: A Rock Opera in Three Acts enters at No. 8.
Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart ranks the top-selling albums of the week based only on traditional album sales. The chart’s history dates back to May 25, 1991, the first week Billboard began tabulating charts with electronically monitored piece count information from SoundScan, now Luminate. Pure album sales were the sole measurement utilized by the Billboard 200 albums chart through the list dated Dec. 6, 2014, after which that chart switched to a methodology that blends album sales with track equivalent album units and streaming equivalent album units. The new May 20, 2023-dated chart will be posted in full on Billboard‘s website on May 16. For all chart news, follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both Twitter and Instagram.
Of Subtract’s 81,000 sold, physical sales comprise 59,000 (45,000 on CD, 14,000 on vinyl – Sheeran’s largest sales week on vinyl – and a couple hundred on cassette) and digital download sales comprise 22,000. Subtract also enters at No. 1 on the Vinyl Albums chart, his third leader on that list, as well as No. 1 on Tastemaker Albums and Top Current Album Sales. Vinyl Albums tallies the top-selling vinyl albums of the week. Tastemaker Albums lists the week’s top-selling albums at independent record stores. Top Current Album Sales lists the week’s best-selling current (not catalog, or older albums) albums by traditional album sales.
Korean pop girl group LE SSERAFIM debuts at No. 2 on Top Album Sales with Unforgiven, selling 38,500 copies in the week ending May 11. It’s the second top 10, highest charting effort, and best sales week for the act. The album was released to digital retail on May 1 and sold less than 500 copies in the week ending May 4. Its debut on Top Album Sales was prompted by its CD release on May 5.
Like many K-pop releases, the CD edition of Unforgiven was issued in collectible CD packages (11 total, including exclusives for Target, Walmart and the Weverse webstore), each containing a standard set of bonus items and randomized photocards. Effectively all of Unforgiven’s album sales in the week ending May 11 were CDs, with a negligible sum generated by digital download album sales. The set was not available in any other retail format (such as vinyl or cassette).
The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3: Awesome Mix Vol. 3 soundtrack bows at No. 3 on Top Album Sales, with 29,000 copies sold. Of that sum, vinyl sales comprise 11,000 (enabling its debut at No. 2 on the Vinyl Albums chart).
The multi-artist Guardians soundtrack (comprised entirely of previously released pop and rock songs) also debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s Soundtracks chart and Top Rock Albums tally. All three of the Guardians theatrical film soundtracks have reached No. 1 on both the Soundtracks chart and the Top Rock Albums chart.
Soundtracks and Top Rock Albums ranks the week’s most popular soundtracks and rock releases, respectively, by equivalent album units.
A quartet of former No. 1s is next on Top Album Sales, as SEVENTEEN’s SEVENTEEN: 10th Mini Album: FML falls 1-4 in its second week (27,000; down 80%), Agust D’s D-Day dips 2-5 (14,000; down 46%), Taylor Swift’s Midnights is a non-mover at No. 6 (12,000; up 7%) and Metallica’s 72 Seasons descends 5-7 (10,000; down 20%).
The Smashing Pumpkins’ ATUM: A Rock Opera in Three Acts debuts at No. 8 on Top Album Sales, selling 9,000 copies. Of that sum, vinyl sales comprise 4,000 – and the set bows at No. 8 on the Vinyl Albums chart. On Top Album Sales, ATUM marks the eighth top 10-charting effort for the rock act, and first since 2012’s Oceania debuted and peaked at No. 4.
Rounding out the top 10 of the new Top Album Sales chart is Swift’s chart-topping Lover (13-9 with 7,000; up 17%) and Lana Del Rey’s Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (12-10 with nearly 7,000; up 2%).
In the week ending May 11, there were 2.021 million albums sold in the U.S. (up 10.6% compared to the previous week). Of that sum, physical albums (CDs, vinyl LPs, cassettes, etc.) comprised 1.661 million (up 12%) and digital albums comprised 360,000 (up 4.5%).
There were 737,000 CD albums sold in the week ending May 11 (up 3.5% week-over-week) and 914,000 vinyl albums sold (up 19.8%). Year-to-date CD album sales stand at 12.673 million (up 5.7% compared to the same time frame a year ago) and year-to-date vinyl album sales total 17.972 million (up 27.9%).
Overall year-to-date album sales total 37.554 million (up 10.7% compared to the same year-to-date time frame a year ago). Year-to-date physical album sales stand at 30.842 million (up 17.6%) and digital album sales total 6.713 million (down 12.7%).