Billboard 200

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The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Sometimes, a recording act is remembered for its "number ones" that outperformed all other albums during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 list in May 1967, acquiring its existing name in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–1972), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–1984), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–1985) and Billboard Top Pop Albums (1985–1992).

Contents

The chart is based mostly on sales – both at retail and digital – of albums in the United States. The weekly sales period was Monday to Sunday when Nielsen started tracking sales in 1991, but since July 2015, the tracking week begins on Friday (to coincide with the Global Release Day of the music industry) and ends on Thursday. A new chart is published the following Tuesday, post dated to the Saturday of that week, four days later. [1] The chart's streaming schedule is also tracked from Friday to Thursday. [2] New music is released by the music industry to the American market on Fridays. Digital downloads of albums are included in Billboard 200 tabulation. Albums that are not licensed for retail sale in the United States (yet purchased in the U.S. as imports) are not eligible to chart. A long-standing policy rendering titles that are sold exclusively by specific retail outlets (such as Walmart and Starbucks) ineligible for charting, was reversed on November 7, 2007, and took effect in the issue dated November 17, 2007. [3]

On December 13, 2014, Billboard began to include on-demand streaming and digital track sales (as measured by Nielsen SoundScan) using a new algorithm with data from all major on-demand audio subscription and online music sales services in the U.S. [4] [5] Starting on the issue dated January 18, 2020, Billboard updated its method again by incorporating video data from YouTube, along with visual plays from digital platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Vevo and, as of the issue dated March 23, 2021, from Facebook. [6] [7]

As of the issue dated February 24, 2024, the number-one album on the chart is Vultures 1 by Kanye West and Ty Dolla Sign. [8]

History

Billboard began an album chart in 1945. Initially only five positions long, the album chart was not published on a weekly basis, with weeks sometimes passing before it was updated. A biweekly (though with a few gaps), 15-position "Best-Selling Popular Albums" chart appeared in 1955. With the increase in album sales as the early 1950s format wars stabilized into market dominance by 45 RPM singles and long-playing 12-inch albums – and with 78 RPM record and long-playing 10-inch album sales decreasing dramatically – Billboard premiered a weekly "Best-Selling Popular Albums" chart on March 24, 1956. The position count varied anywhere from 10 to 30 albums. The first no. 1 album on the new weekly list was Belafonte by Harry Belafonte. The chart was renamed "Best-Selling Pop Albums" later in 1956, and then "Best-Selling Pop LPs" in 1957.

Beginning on May 25, 1959, Billboard split the ranking into two charts: "Best-Selling Stereophonic LPs" for stereo albums (30 positions) and "Best-Selling Monophonic LPs" for mono albums (50 positions). These were renamed "Stereo Action Charts" (30 positions) and "Mono Action Charts" (40 positions), respectively, in 1960. In January 1961, they became "Action Albums – Stereophonic" (15 positions) and "Action Albums – Monophonic" (25 positions), and three months later, they became "Top LPs – Stereo" (50 positions) and "Top LPs – Monaural" (150 positions).

On August 17, 1963, the stereo and mono charts were combined into a 150-position chart called "Top LPs". On April 1, 1967, the chart was expanded to 175 positions, and then finally to 200 positions on May 13, 1967. In February 1972, the album chart's title was changed to "Top LPs & Tape"; in 1984, it was retitled "Top 200 Albums"; in 1985, it was retitled again to "Top Pop Albums"; in 1991, it became the "Billboard 200 Top Albums"; and it was given its current title of the "Billboard 200" on March 14, 1992.

From the end of 1970 to 1985, Billboard also printed a "Bubbling Under the Top LPs" albums chart paired with the "Bubbling Under the Hot 100" singles chart, which listed albums that had not yet charted on what was then the "Top LPs & Tape" chart.

Catalog albums

In 1960, Billboard began concurrently publishing album charts that ranked sales of older or mid-priced titles. These "Essential Inventory" charts were divided by stereo and mono albums, and featured titles that had already appeared on the main stereo and mono album charts. Mono albums were moved to the "Essential Inventory – Mono" chart (25 positions) after spending 40 weeks on the "Mono Action Chart", and stereo albums were moved to the "Essential Inventory – Stereo" chart (20 positions) after 20 weeks on the "Stereo Action Chart".

In January 1961, the "Action Charts" became "Action Albums – Stereophonic" (15 positions) and "Action Albums – Monophonic" (24 positions). Albums appeared on either chart for up to nine weeks, and were then moved to an "Essential Inventory" list of approximately 200 titles and with no numerical ranking. This list continued to be published until the consolidated "Top LPs" chart debuted in 1963.

In 1982, Billboard began publishing a "Midline Albums" chart (alternatively titled "Midline LPs"), which ranked older or mid-priced titles. The chart held 50 positions and was published on a biweekly (and later triweekly) basis.

On May 25, 1991, Billboard premiered the "Top Pop Catalog Albums" chart, the criteria for which were albums that were more than 18 months old and had fallen below no. 100 on the Billboard 200. [9] An album did not have to chart on the Billboard 200 to qualify for this chart.

"Both Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall should be in the Billboard Top 200," said former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters in 1992. "The Wall still does anything up to four million each year… They've created a catalog chart in which to place all these old albums, leaving the main chart free for all the artists the record companies will want to book advertising space for. It just offers further evidence of the dishonesty that's rife in this business." [10]

Starting with the issue dated December 5, 2009, however, the catalog limitations – which removed albums over 18 months old that had dropped below No. 100 and had no currently running singles – for the Billboard 200 were lifted, turning the chart into an all-inclusive list of the 200 highest-selling albums in the country (essentially changing "Top Comprehensive Albums" into the Billboard 200). A new chart that keeps the previous criteria for the Billboard 200 – dubbed the "Top Current Albums" chart – was also introduced in the same issue. [11]

Holiday albums

Billboard has adjusted its policies for Christmas [12] and holiday [12] albums several times. The albums were eligible for the main album charts until 1963, when a "Christmas Albums" chart was created. Albums appearing here were not listed on the "Top LPs" chart, and in 1974, this rule was reverted and holiday albums again appeared within the main list.

In 1983, the "Christmas Albums" chart was resurrected, but a title's appearance here did not disqualify it from appearing on the "Top Pop Albums" chart. In 1990, the chart was retitled "Top Holiday Albums"; as of 2009, it holds 50 positions and runs for several weeks during the end-of-calendar-year holiday season. Its current policy allows holiday albums to concurrently chart on the "Top Holiday Albums" list and the Billboard 200.

Nielsen SoundScan

Since May 25, 1991, the Billboard 200's positions have been derived from Nielsen SoundScan sales data; as of 2008, it is contributed to by approximately 14,000 music sellers. Because these numbers are supplied by a subset of sellers rather than record labels, it is common for these numbers to be substantially lower than those reported by the Recording Industry Association of America when Gold, Platinum and Diamond album awards are announced. (RIAA awards reflect wholesale shipments, not retail sales.)

Incorporation of streaming data and track sales

Beginning with the December 13, 2014, issue, Billboard updated the methodology of its album chart again, changing from a "pure sales-based ranking" to one measuring "multi-metric consumption". [4] With this overhaul, the Billboard 200 includes on-demand streaming and digital track sales (as measured by Nielsen SoundScan) by way of a new algorithm, utilizing data from all of the major on-demand audio subscription services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and Groove Music. Under the new methodology, 10 track sales or 1,500 song streams from an album are treated as equivalent to one purchase of the album. Billboard continues to publish a pure album sales chart, called "Top Album Sales", that maintains the traditional Billboard 200 methodology but is based exclusively on SoundScan's sales data. [4]

Beginning on January 18, 2020, Billboard incorporated video and audio data from YouTube, along with visual plays from streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and Vevo, into the Billboard 200. The change has also impacted Billboard's genre-specific album charts. [6]

Year-end charts

Billboard's "chart year" runs from the first week of December to the final week in November. This altered calendar allows for Billboard to calculate year-end charts and release them in time for its final print issue in the last week of December. Prior to Nielsen SoundScan, year-end charts were calculated by an inverse-point system based solely on an album's performance on the Billboard 200 (e.g., an album would be given one point for a week spent at No. 200, two points for a week spent at No. 199, etc., up to 200 points for each week spent at No. 1). Other factors, including an album's total weeks spent on the chart and its peak position, are calculated into an album's year-end total.

Since Billboard began obtaining sales information from Nielsen SoundScan, the year-end charts are now calculated by a very straightforward cumulative total of yearlong sales. This gives a more accurate picture of any given year's best-selling albums, as a title that hypothetically spent nine weeks at No. 1 in March could possibly have sold fewer copies than one spending six weeks at No. 3 in January. Albums at the peak of their popularity at the time of the November/December chart-year cutoff many times end up ranked lower than one would expect on a year-end tally, yet are ranked on the following year's chart as well, as their cumulative points are split between the two chart-years.

All-Time Billboard 200 achievements (1963–2015)

In 2015, Billboard compiled a ranking of the 100 best-performing albums on the Billboard 200 over its 52 years, along with the best-performing artists. [13] Shown below are the top 10 albums and top 10 artists over the 52-year period of the Billboard 200, through October 2015. Also shown are the artists placing the most albums on the overall "all-time" top 100 album list.

Top 10 albums of All Time (1963–2015)

RankAlbumYear releasedArtist(s)Peak and duration
1 21 2011 Adele #1 for 24 weeks
2 The Sound of Music 1965Soundtrack#1 for 2 weeks
3 Thriller 1982 Michael Jackson #1 for 37 weeks
4 Fearless 2008 Taylor Swift #1 for 11 weeks
5 Born in the U.S.A. 1984 Bruce Springsteen #1 for 7 weeks
6 Ropin' the Wind 1991 Garth Brooks #1 for 18 weeks
7 Jagged Little Pill 1995 Alanis Morissette #1 for 12 weeks
8 Doctor Zhivago 1966 Maurice Jarre #1 for 1 week
9 All the Right Reasons 2005 Nickelback #1 for 1 week
10 Tapestry 1971 Carole King #1 for 15 weeks

Source: [14]

Top 10 albums artists of All Time (1963–2015)

RankArtist
1 The Beatles
2 The Rolling Stones
3 Barbra Streisand
4 Garth Brooks
5 Elton John
6 Mariah Carey
7 Herb Alpert
8 Taylor Swift
9 Chicago
10 Michael Jackson

Source: [15]

Artists with the most albums on Billboard's Top 200 Albums of All Time (1963–2015)

Number of
albums
ArtistAlbums (ranking)
5 The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (54), A Hard Day's Night (105), 1 (131), Abbey Road (135), Meet the Beatles! (187)
4 Taylor Swift Fearless (4), Taylor Swift (18), 1989 (64), Red (140)
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II (146), Houses of the Holy (185), Led Zeppelin IV (194), In Through the Out Door (198)
3 Michael Jackson Thriller (3), Bad (138), Off the Wall (149)
Nickelback All the Right Reasons (9), Silver Side Up (162), Dark Horse (182)
Whitney Houston Whitney Houston (11), The Bodyguard (23), Whitney (159)
Herb Alpert Whipped Cream & Other Delights (13), Going Places (44), What Now My Love (170)
Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (39), Honky Château (145), Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (175)
Mariah Carey Mariah Carey (50), The Emancipation of Mimi (52), Music Box (87)
Janet Jackson Control (72), Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (94), Janet (119)
2 Garth Brooks Ropin' the Wind (6), No Fences (29)
Fleetwood Mac Rumours (15), Fleetwood Mac (74)
Celine Dion Falling into You (21), Let's Talk About Love (164)
Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon (31), The Wall (92)
Creed Human Clay (34), Weathered (181)
Santana Supernatural (36), Abraxas (114)
Backstreet Boys Backstreet Boys (42), Millennium (70)
Eminem The Eminem Show (56), Recovery (93)
Boyz II Men II (61), Cooleyhighharmony (129)
Green Day American Idiot (73), Dookie (172)
Nelly Country Grammar (85), Nellyville (174)
John Denver John Denver's Greatest Hits (86), Back Home Again (193)
Chicago Chicago II (89), Chicago V (165)
The Black Eyed Peas The E.N.D (96), Monkey Business (134)
Justin Timberlake FutureSex/LoveSounds (97), The 20/20 Experience (200)
Mumford & Sons Sigh No More (106), Babel (116)
Alicia Keys Songs in A Minor (107), As I Am (128)
NSYNC No Strings Attached (111), 'N Sync (137)
The Monkees The Monkees (132), More of the Monkees (156)
Eagles The Long Run (148), One of These Nights (155)
Billy Joel Glass Houses (168), 52nd Street (191)

Source: [14]

Artist milestones

Most number-one albums

AlbumsArtistRef.
19 The Beatles [16]
14 Jay-Z [16]
13 Taylor Swift [17]
Drake [18]
11 Barbra Streisand [16]
Bruce Springsteen [16]
Kanye West [8]
10 Elvis Presley [16]
Eminem [19]

Most number-one albums in a calendar year

AlbumsArtistYearRef.
4 The Monkees 1967 [26]
3 Elvis Presley 1957 [26]
The Kingston Trio 1960 [26]
Elvis Presley1961 [26]
The Beatles 1964 [26]
1965 [26]
1966 [26]
Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass 1966 [26]
Elton John 1975 [26]
Garth Brooks 1998 [26]
Glee Cast2010 [26]
Taylor Swift 2021 [27]
2023 [17]

Most consecutive number-one studio albums

NumberActRef.
13 Taylor Swift [17]
11 Jay-Z [28]
10 Kanye West [8]
9 The Beatles [29]
Eminem [19]
8 The Rolling Stones [30]
7 Dave Matthews Band [31]
Beyoncé [32]
Drake [18]
Future [33]
6 Elton John [34]
Metallica [35]
Justin Bieber [36]
J. Cole [37]

Most consecutive studio albums to debut at number one

NumberActRef.
13 Taylor Swift [17]
11 Jay-Z [28]
Kanye West [8]
9 Eminem [19]
7 Dave Matthews Band [31]
Beyoncé [38]
Drake [39]
6 Justin Bieber [40]
Metallica [41]
J. Cole
5 Disturbed [42]
Lady Gaga [43]
Madonna [44]
U2
DMX [45]

Most cumulative weeks at number one

List of acts with the most weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 since August 17, 1963.

Weeks at
number one
ArtistSource
132 The Beatles [49]
69 Taylor Swift [50] [51]
67 Elvis Presley [49]
52 Garth Brooks [49]
51 Michael Jackson [49]
46 Whitney Houston [49]
The Kingston Trio [49]
40 Adele [52]
39 Elton John [49]
38 Fleetwood Mac [49]
The Rolling Stones [49]
37 Harry Belafonte [49]
The Monkees [49]

Most consecutive years at number one

List of acts who reached number one on the Billboard 200 with a new album in consecutive calendar years since August 17, 1963. [53] [54]

YearsActStreak
7 The Beatles 1964–1970
6 Taylor Swift 2019–2024
5 Drake 2015–2019
Jay-Z 2000–2004
Paul McCartney 1973–1977

Most top-10 albums

The following artists are the only ones with 30 or more top-10 albums: [55]

Note: As a musician, Paul McCartney has the most top-10 albums, with 51. This includes 32 with The Beatles, 11 solo albums, seven albums with the group Wings, and one album credited to him and his first wife, Linda McCartney. [20] [21]

Most albums in the top 10 simultaneously

Note: Swift is the first living artist to chart five albums in the top 10 simultaneously. [57]  She was previously the first living soloist to have four albums simultaneously chart in the top 10. [53]

Note: Had the Billboard 200 allowed catalog albums to chart previous to December 5, 2009, Michael Jackson would have claimed six simultaneous top 10 titles for two consecutive weeks and The Beatles would have claimed five simultaneous top 10 titles that year. [56]

Most albums in the top 25 simultaneously

Most albums in the top 100 simultaneously

Most albums in the top 200 simultaneously

Most albums spending at least 1 full year (52 weeks) in the top 10

Album milestones

Most weeks at number one

WeeksAlbumArtistYear(s)Source
54 West Side Story Various artists1962–63 [83]
37 Thriller Michael Jackson 1983–84 [84]
31 Rumours Fleetwood Mac 1977–78 [84]
South Pacific Various artists1958–59 [83]
Calypso Harry Belafonte 1956–57 [83]
24 21 Adele 2011–12 [84]
Purple Rain Prince and the Revolution 1984–85 [84]
Saturday Night Fever Bee Gees/Various artists1978 [84]
21 Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em MC Hammer 1990 [84]
20 The Bodyguard Whitney Houston/Various artists1992–93 [84]
Blue Hawaii § Elvis Presley 1961–62 [83]

† The West Side Story soundtrack ran for 53 weeks at number one on the stereo album chart; it was number one for 12 weeks on the mono album chart.

‡ The South Pacific soundtrack ran for 28 weeks at number one on the stereo album chart; it was number one for three weeks on the mono album chart.

§ This is the Blue Hawaii album's run on the mono album chart; it was number one for four weeks on the stereo album chart.

Most weeks on the chart

Note that totals are for the main albums chart only, catalog chart totals are not factored in.
(*) indicates that the album is currently charting.
WeeksAlbumArtistSource
988 The Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd [86]
822* Legend Bob Marley and the Wailers [87] [88]
792* Journey's Greatest Hits Journey [89]
742* Metallica Metallica [90]
681* Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits Creedence Clearwater Revival [91]
671* Curtain Call: The Hits Eminem [92]
663* Doo-Wops & Hooligans Bruno Mars [93]
663* Greatest Hits Guns N' Roses [94]
657* Nevermind Nirvana [95]
613* Thriller Michael Jackson [96]
599* 21 Adele [97]
593 Back in Black AC/DC [98]
590* Good Kid, M.A.A.D City Kendrick Lamar [99]
582* Greatest Hits Queen [100]
572* Take Care Drake [18]
568* Rumours Fleetwood Mac [101]
553* Greatest Hits Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers [102]
540 1 The Beatles [103]
523* Born to Die Lana Del Rey [104]

Largest jumps to number one

  1. (176 to 1) Life After Death The Notorious B.I.G. [105] (April 12, 1997)
  2. (173 to 1) Vitalogy Pearl Jam [106] (December 24, 1994)
  3. (157 to 1) Fearless (Taylor's Version) Taylor Swift [107] (October 16, 2021)
  4. (156 to 1) In Rainbows Radiohead [108] (January 19, 2008)
  5. (137 to 1) Ghetto D Master P [109] (September 20, 1997)
  6. (122 to 1) More of The Monkees The Monkees [110] (February 11, 1967)
  7. (120 to 1) Call Me If You Get Lost Tyler, the Creator [111] (April 30, 2022)
  8. (112 to 1) MP da Last Don – Master P [112] (June 20, 1998)
  9. (98 to 1) Beatles '65 The Beatles [113] (January 9, 1965)
  10. (74 to 1) Evermore Taylor Swift [114] (June 12, 2021)

Largest drops from number one

  1. (1 to 169) This House Is Not for Sale Bon Jovi [115] (March 17, 2018)
  2. (1 to 139) Call Me If You Get Lost Tyler, the Creator [116] (May 7, 2022)
  3. (1 to 111) Courage Celine Dion (December 7, 2019)
  4. (1 to 97) Science Fiction Brand New [117] (September 16, 2017)
  5. (1 to 88) Iridescence Brockhampton [118] (October 13, 2018)
  6. (1 to 77) Madame X Madonna (July 6, 2019) [119]
  7. (1 to 62) Boarding House Reach Jack White [120] (April 14, 2018)
  8. (1 to 59) Wonderful Wonderful The Killers [121] (October 21, 2017)
  9. (1 to 56) American Dream LCD Soundsystem [122] (September 30, 2017)
  10. (1 to 45) Help Us Stranger The Raconteurs [123] (July 13, 2019)

Notes:

Longest climbs to number one in the SoundScan era

Here are the albums to complete the 10 longest rises to number one on the Billboard 200 since the adoption of Nielsen Music data in 1991. [126]

Weeks to No. 1ArtistAlbumDate reached No. 1
63Various Artists O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack March 23, 2002
53 The Kid Laroi F*ck Love August 7, 2021
52 Live Throwing Copper May 6, 1995
49 No Doubt Tragic Kingdom December 21, 1996
46 Norah Jones Come Away with Me January 25, 2003
44 Hootie & The Blowfish Cracked Rear View May 27, 1995
40 Prince The Very Best of Prince May 7, 2016
31 Toni Braxton Toni Braxton February 26, 1994
28 Celine Dion Falling into You October 5, 1996
27 Eric Clapton Unplugged March 13, 1993

Albums to top the Billboard 200 by artists who have never appeared on the Hot 100

ArtistAlbumYearSource
Van Cliburn Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 11958 [128]
Bob Newhart The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart 1960 [128]
Bob NewhartThe Button-Down Mind Strikes Back!1961 [128]
Judy Garland Judy at Carnegie Hall [128]
Vaughn Meader The First Family 1962 [128]
Frank Fontaine Songs I Sing on the Jackie Gleason Show1963 [128]
Blind Faith Blind Faith 1969 [128]
Pantera Far Beyond Driven 1994 [128]
Bob Carlisle Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace) 1997 [128]
Marilyn Manson Mechanical Animals 1998 [129]
Marilyn Manson The Golden Age of Grotesque 2003 [129]
Il Divo Ancora 2006 [128]
Slipknot All Hope Is Gone 2008 [128]
Vampire Weekend Contra 2010 [128]
The Decemberists The King Is Dead 2011 [128]
Amos Lee Mission Bell [128]
TobyMac Eye on It 2012 [130]
Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City 2013 [131]
Lecrae Anomaly 2014 [132]
Slipknot .5: The Gray Chapter [133]
Brand New Science Fiction 2017 [134]
LCD Soundsystem American Dream [135]
Vampire Weekend Father of the Bride 2019 [136]
Slipknot We Are Not Your Kind [137]
SuperM SuperM – The 1st Mini Album [138]
Tomorrow X Together The Name Chapter: Temptation 2023 [139]
Ateez The World EP.Fin: Will [140]

Note: Newhart, Meader and Fontaine's albums were all number one on the mono chart but not on the stereo chart. Garland is listed on a technicality; she has 17 pop hits, but all were from 1939 to 1955 – all before the 1958 establishment of the Hot 100.

Additional milestones

See also

Sources

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