Last week, two new albums vied for No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, with similar marketing arsenals and big fan bases set to click away on streaming services.
The Weeknd’s “Dawn FM” and Gunna’s “DS4Ever” were both surprise releases, announced just days before they came out.
Each LP had cover artwork featuring a striking treatment of its artist’s face. And each was filled with celebrity guest spots. Gunna, a rapper from Atlanta, had Drake, Future and 21 Savage; the Weeknd had vocals by Lil Wayne and Tyler, the Creator, along with narration by Quincy Jones and the comedian Jim Carrey.
Both albums came out in “deluxe” versions with extra tracks, a common tactic these days to stir fan demand and drive up streaming counts. Their download versions were also heavily discounted online. And as last week came to a close, industry prognosticators expected a photo finish.
In the end, Gunna won by a nose — a surprise, perhaps, given the enormous success of the Weeknd’s last album, “After Hours” (2020). “DS4Ever” had the equivalent of 150,300 sales in the United States, and “Dawn FM” had 148,000, according to MRC Data, Billboard’s tracking arm.
While “Dawn FM” sold more copies as a complete unit — 14,800, versus 4,700 for “DS4Ever” — streaming tipped the balance. Gunna ended the week with 193 million clicks, while the Weeknd had 173 million.
The soundtrack to Disney’s “Encanto,” which topped the chart last week, falls to No. 3. Adele’s “30” is the No. 4 album — while her song “Easy on Me” marks its ninth week as the No. 1 single — and Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous: The Double Album” is No. 5.