This week’s Billboard Top 200 albums chart numbers were pretty close, with three hot new releases—Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life, Tyler, the Creator’s Flower Boy, and Meek Mill’s Wins & Losses—battling it out for the top spot. "Technical difficulties" delayed the release of the chart for several days; however, on Wednesday, Billboard finally confirmed Lana's Lust for Life had landed at No. 1.
This marks the second No. 1 debut for the 32-year-old singer, who previously topped the chart with her 2014 album Ultraviolence. According to Billboard, Lust for Life earned 107,000 equivalent album units, 8,000 of which were in traditional album sales.
Flower Boy followed closely at the No. 2 spot by racking in 106,000 equivalent album units. Tyler fans were crossing their fingers for the top spot, as it would've been his first-ever No. 1 album debut. His 2015 project Cherry Bomb debuted and peaked at No. 4; 2013's Wolf made it to No. 3; and 2011's Goblin could not surpass the No. 5 slot.
Meek's Wins & Losses followed Flower Boy, with 102,000 equivalent album units (37,000 in album sales); however, just like Lana, the rapper is no stranger to leading the chart. His Dreams Worth More Than Money hit No. 1 in 2015, while last year's DC4 and his 2012 project Dreams and Nightmares peaked at No. 3 and No. 2, respectively.
The close competition between the three albums was made more dramatic by some contention over Meek’s Tidal release. Upon its release last week, Tidal offered Wins & Losses for free to stream on its platform; as the argument goes, to include those "free" numbers is to compare apples and oranges, since the other albums have only paid sales and streams to compete with—Tidal, unlike Spotify, does not have a free tier.
Projections made by HitsDailyDouble did not take the free streaming numbers into account because to do so "would represent a reckless and absurd acceptance of blatant chart manipulation." Lust for Life, by their measure, would have debuted at No. 1 with 108,000 units. Flower Boy would have been a close second at 104,000 with Wins & Losses at a comfortable third with 87,000.
Tyler, not one to remain silent, voiced some frustration on Twitter last week that the Tidal numbers might skew. In a series of now deleted tweets, he said "DAMN TIDAL GOT ALBUMS PLAYING BEFORE A PAYWALL WHICH MAKES ME THINK N****S CAN HAVE BOTS SPIKING UP PLAYS FOR BILLBOARD ON FRIDAY HMM," Tyler wrote. He also openly acknowledged the reason for his ANGER in another tweet: "IM PETTY I WANT THAT TOP SPOT HAHAHA I WANT IT SO BAD MAN."
Billboard quickly released a statement explaining its process. "Free streams...have counted towards the Billboard 200 since it changed to a consumption model in 2014 where the ranking is determined by blending album sales, track equivalent album units, and streaming equivalent album units," the statement read. This week is no different, but for those who have been making the argument against treating free streams the same as paid ones, this is only the latest outrage in a string of unfair advantages.
As for the rest of the chart, Linkin Park’s One More Light went from the No. 17 slot all the way to No. 4, while the group's debut album Hybrid Theory surged from No. 27 to No. 8. Both albums began climbing soon after the band's frontman, Chester Bennington, died by suicide.
Kendrick Lamar's Damn landed at No. 5, followed by the The Descendants 2 soundtrack (No. 6) and Jay Z's 4:44 (No. 7). Rounding out the top 10 were DJ Khaled's Grateful at No. 9 and Romeo Santos’ Golden at the No. 10 slot.