After opening atop the chart in Flanders, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, The UK and Wallonia last week, Ariana Grande’s fourth album, Sweetener, slips 1-2 in Flanders, The Netherlands and Sweden, 1-3 in The UK and 1-4 in Wallonia but remains at No.1 in the other four, while debuting at No.1 in Australia, Canada, The Czech Republic, Finland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and The USA. It makes only slightly lower debuts in Denmark (No.2), France (No.2), Austria (No.4) and Hungary (No.6), while falling 3-10 in Germany and 8-11 in Japan.
South Korean K-Pop septet BTS – also known as Beyond The Scene, Bangtan Boys and Bulletproof Boy Scouts – debut at No.1 in their home country with their third album in less than a year, Love Yourself: Answer. They are always to be found in the local Gaon chart anyway but the release of Love Yourself: Answer had a galvanising effect on their back catalogue, resulting in no fewer than 12 of their albums appearing in the current Top 40. The BTS phenomenon has spread to the west in recent months too, so it is no surprise to find, as their world tour kicks off, Love Yourself: Answer also debuting at No.5 in The Netherlands, No.9 in Flanders, No.11 in New Zealand, No.14 in The UK, No.15 in Ireland, No.18 in Italy, No.20 in Sweden, No.23 in Germany and No.24 in Wallonia. Final details of its first week sales in South Korea have yet to emerge but it had pre-orders of 1,511,910 copies.
In a week when few other new albums made widespread impact, Seattle rock veterans Alice In Chains – whose four members are all in their early 50s – made a good showing with Rainer Fog, only their sixth studio album in a 28 year career. It far outperformed their previous releases to give them their first Top 10 entry in both Germany (No.8) and The UK (No.9), while opening at No.13 in Wallonia, No.19 in Sweden, No.20 in Ireland and Norway, No.23 in New Zealand, No.29 in Italy, No.30 in The Netherlands and No.32 in Flanders.
It’s a busy period for Nicki Minaj, who has appeared on a hugely successful new album in each of the last three weeks, guesting on both the Ariana Grande and BTS sets mentioned above, immediately after the release of her own latest album, Queen. We plotted Queen’s Top 10 placings in 11 countries and Top 40 in a further 10 in the last two weeks. It drifts lower almost everywhere this week but makes a belated debut in The Czech Republic (No.44), reaches new highs in Finland (14-11) and Slovakia (20-15) and follows its 18-49 dip in Germany last week by recovering most of its lost ground to finish at No.25.
Aretha Franklin albums are much in evidence in most charts for the second week in a row, though nowhere as much as Australia, where Franklin enjoyed 11 chart entries during her lifetime and currently has eight titles in a concentrated range in the Top 100, all between positions 13 and 25.
Finally, while Ariana Grande’s success gave a brief respite from the recent global domination of rap, it’s back to normal next week, with the new Eminem title Kamikaze at No.1 on the iTunes listing in 69 countries as I write (6pm, Friday), and expected to follow suit on many official chart rankings.