Rebel Chart: Madonna Loses the No. 1 Spot to the ‘Empire’ Soundtrack

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Madonna’s troubled campaign for Rebel Heart, her first album since 2012, has hit yet another embarrassing setback.

Billboard reports that the Empire soundtrack will debut atop the Billboard 200 Album Chart with 130,000 equivalent album units earned (sales plus streaming). Madonna’s Rebel Heart,which many predicted would take the top spot, will follow in the No. 2 spot with 121,000 units. Her last album, 2012’s critically-panned MDNA, debuted at No. 1 with 359,000 albums sold. (Streaming was not counted on the official charts at the time.) Ouch.

The good news for Madonna is that she debuts atop the Top Album Sales chart, which counts only sales of an album (no streaming). So yes, she sold more copies than the Empire soundtrack, but in 2015, the power of streaming should not be underestimated. Unless, of course, you’re Taylor Swift.

It is the first time a Madonna album has not debuted at No. 1 since 1998, when the critically-acclaimed Ray of Light peaked at No. 2. (Funnily enough, she was blocked from the No. 1 spot by another soundtrack: Titanic.)

The campaign for Rebel Heart has been plagued by misfortune (and bad decision making) from the start. Last year, dozens of unfinished demos leaked onto the internet before Madonna had even announced a new album. Madge rush-released six songs to iTunes and finally set a release date. Shortly thereafter, even more demos leaked. Then, in what may have been the biggest blow to the album’s chances for success, the fully-mastered, super deluxe version of the album leaked in early February, nearly six weeks before the album was officially released.

Adding insult to injury, Madonna came under fire for tacky promotional tactics on Instagram. Her lackluster Grammys performance plus her infamous tumble at the BRIT Awards did nothing to excite the public about her new set.

Better luck next time, Madge.

[Billboard]