Kenny Chesney Debuts Ahead of Drake on Album Chart, But Drake Has 15 of the 25 Top Songs

Chris Willman

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In the race between Kenny Chesney and Drake for the top of the album chart, the country music superstar bested his rivals in a week that saw hip-hop otherwise dominating the upper ranks of the listings, as the genre has for weeks.

Chesney’s “Here and Now” enters the Rolling Stone album chart at No. 1 with 227,800 album units. Drake’s “Dark Lane Demo Tapes” album, described as an intermediary “mixtape” between major releases, came in second with 206,900 album units.

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Drake won’t be shedding many tears about landing at a mere No. 2 with his album. Over on the songs chart, he has six of the top 10, and 15 of the top 25.

Chesney’s chart-topping album debut comes with an asterisk. As was typical with many superstar releases until the pandemic hit, “Here and Now” benefitted from “bundling,” the practice of selling a digital album along with a concert ticket as a tour goes on sale. For obvious reasons, that’s something that won’t be happening again a great deal in the near future, but Chesney’s planned spring and summer stadium tour went on sale last October. Although the dates were postponed in March, the albums that were pre-sold last fall still counted as sales now.

Breaking it down, Chesney’s release did 218,600 in album sales, plus 11,800 individual song sales — a comparatively whopping sales amount that made up for its modest 9.9 million streams. How many of those albums were sold as part of a ticket bundle isn’t known.

Conversely, Drake’s release did very little in the way of actual album sales — only 20,300 — but had a fairly impressive number of individual song sales, 35,800. Where it excelled, of course, as most hip-hop albums do now, is in the streaming department. “Dark Lane Demo Tapes” racked up 220.8 million streams, more than 22 times as many as the Chesney album.

It was a battle of the babies for third and fourth place — Lil Baby and DaBaby, that is. Lil Baby holds onto his No. 3 spot from last week with “My Turn” earning 98,400 album units. DaBaby moves down from No. 2 to No. 4 as “Blame It on Baby” moved 47,000 album units.

Last week’s No. 1 got kicked out of the top 10. YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s “38 Baby 2” dropped from the top down to No. 11, with 27,200 album units. That quick dip of interest may have to do with YoungBoy glutting the market, as this was his third release in eight months — although it doesn’t seem to be hurting DaBaby that he’s on his third album in 14 months.

Coming in after the Weeknd’s No. 5 “After Hours” is Megan Thee Stallion’s resurgent “Suga,” reaching its chart height to date at No. 6. Her album, which looked like it might be a dud upon initial release, is finding its stride thanks to her No. 1 song “Savage,” which has Beyonce as a featured guest.

Also reaching its peak to date is Doja Cat’s rising “Hot Pink,” up to No. 7 on the album chart. It, too, is getting a big lift from a hit single — Doja Cat’s “Say So,” featuring Nicki Minaj, is No. 2 on the songs chart.

Few new albums are making any kind of splash on the chart these days as fewer and fewer artists outside of the realm of hip-hop are putting out new releases. After the race for the top two positions, you have to go all the way down to No. 22 to find another brand new entry, the Christian group Elevation Worship’s “Graves Into Gardens.”

After that, the next highest entries are the rapper Mozzy’s “Beyond Bulletproof” at No. 36 and the Young Thug/Chris Brown collaboration “Slime & B” at No. 39. JoJo’s highly touted comeback, “Good to Know,” enters at No. 41.

As previously mentioned, the Rolling Stone songs chart is led by Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” and Doja Cat’s “Say So” (with Beyonce and Nicki Minaj as the respective celebrity guests giving those tracks higher profiles). “Savage” had 26.6 milion streams for the week, and “Say So” had 19.1 million.

Of the six songs that Drake has in the top 10 (and 15 in the top 25), foremost among them is “Pain 1993,” featuring Playboi Carti, in at No. 3, nudging just ahead of his previously released smash “Toosie Slide,” now at No. 4.

Next week’s top 10 on the album chart is likely to include three big releases that came out this past weekend: Kehlani, Hayley Williams and the surprise drop by Bad Bunny.

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