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Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ Scores With 2022’s Second-Biggest Album Debut Numbers

Variety logo Variety 8/8/2022 Chris Willman
© Carlijn Jacobs

Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” album rode in on a steed of its own to register the second-best first-week numbers so far this year. It trails only Harry Styles’ latest, as 2022 album premieres go.

The debut figure for “Renaissance” was 332,000 equivalent album units, per Luminate Data, as reported Sunday in Billboard — a tally that represents the best first week for a female artist this year.

“Renaissance” came in short of supplanting Styles’ “Harry’s House” as the top-debuting album of the year; Styles’ collection bowed with 521,000 units in June. Beyoncé’s effort topped all other 2022 contenders to date, though, the biggest of which were BTS’ “Proof,” which debuted with 314,000 units and now gets bumped to third place, and Kendrick Lamar’s “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” which stepped out with 295,000.

While she doesn’t earn bragging rights for the biggest bow of the year, there’s still a chance for her to become a dominating force in year-end album stats, as she has shared plans to release two more “acts” as part of this release cycle. Whether the other two projects will be in full-length album form — and whether they will both come out before the end of 2022 — hasn’t been revealed, as Beyoncé has kept virtually all details about those under wraps. But if one or both of the other projects come in under the wire, and with similarly big tallies, Beyoncé could still own the year as an album artist in much the same way Taylor Swift owned 2020 with her two separate studio albums.

For now, at least, the considerable “Renaissance” bow puts an end to Bad Bunny’s non-consecutive seven-week chart reign with “Un Verano Sin Ti.” That surprisingly enduring album falls to No. 2 this week with 104,000 units. It’s expected to see a surge next week, due to the CD of Bad Bunny’s album having just been released to stores on Friday, but it’ll have to be a pretty substantial leap for Beyoncé not to enjoy a second week at the top.

Four other albums debuted in the top 10 this week. Two of them were from South Korean artists: Ateez’ “The World EP.1” debuted at No. 3 with 50,000 equivalent album units, and Enhypen’s “Manifesto: Day 1” managed a No. 6 entry with 39,000 units. The other fresh top 10 album is rap duo $uicideboy$’s “Sing Me a Lullaby, My Sweet Temptation,” a No. 7 entry with 37,000 units. Coming in at No. 8 was Dance Gavin Dance’s “Jackpot Juicer” with 33,500 units.

In a sign of just how short 2022 has been so far on female-driven blockbuster releases, Billboard points out that “Renaissance” is the first album by a solo woman to top the Billboard 200 since Adele’s “30” vacated the No. 1 spot in early January, following a six-week reign. “That 30-week gap between No. 1s is the longest the chart has been absent a No. 1 album billed to a solo woman since 2017,” Billboard reported. Even Lizzo’s much-anticipated “Special” had to settle for a No. 2 bow in July with its 69,000 debut units, as Bad Bunny continued to hog the top spot.

“Renaissance” is Beyoncé’s first proper solo album since “Lemonade,” a project that premiered six years ago with 653,000 units. The circumstances for the two albums are different enough that direct comparisons are hard to make. “Lemonade” arrived with a complete video album to boost interest, while “Renaissance” has not had any accompanying music videos so far — although, unlike the previous album’s surprise release, the newer album was preceded several weeks ago by a single, “Break My Soul.” “Renaissance” hit the streets with physical product — a CD in stores, and vinyl initially being sold only on the artist’s website — whereas the 2016 release was strictly digital at the outset.

The presence of physical sales from the very start this time around meant that Beyoncé had a very strong sales week, with 190,000 of the 332,000 “Renaissance” units coming in the form of full-album sales in the digital, CD and vinyl formats. Only the Styles and BTS album had bigger first-week full-album sales figures so far in 2022. Billboard reports that “Renaissance” sold 121,000 CDs, 43,000 downloads and 26,000 vinyl LPs in week one. (Vinyl sales will grow when the LP edition hits traditional retailers in September; the special editions heretofore available only on her website have long since sold out.)

As streams go, “Renaissance” had 179.06 million on-demand streams in its first week, which gave it the seventh-biggest premiere streaming numbers of 2022 so far. That tally was enough to give the artist her best streaming week to date.

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