The set, which was released on Dec. 13 via Erskine/Columbia Records, earned 478,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in the week ending Dec. 19, according to Nielsen Music. That figure marks the biggest week for a pop album by a male artist in over four years, the largest week for a Columbia album in more than three years, and the third-biggest week overall for any album in 2019. It also scores the largest sales week for an album by a solo U.K. male artist since Nielsen Music began electronically tracking sales data in 1991.
With Styles’ start of 193,000 he earns the biggest debut sales week for a U.K. male artist’s first full-length album since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991.
Paramore came in at number six, selling around 67,000 album equivalent units. I’ve seen a few people saying this is a disappointment, and I wanna push back on that just a bit. The band selected a fast album roll-out with very minimal press. They did only a few interviews, with massive publications, and turned down requests from everyone else. They didn’t send out advances to virtually anyone, and I think they knew going in this wasn’t going to be an album they pushed for the first week sales. I think it’s instead setting up their upcoming tour, they’ll have a bigger push on the second single, and the positive word of mouth will keep this album moving throughout the summer.
Basically, I don’t think it’s a disappointment, and I wouldn’t worry.
Asked if he spends pressure-filled evenings worried about proving credibility to an older crowd, Styles grows animated. “Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music—short for popular, right?—have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans—they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.
When I was younger I was way too self-concious about the kind of music I liked and told my friends I liked. I was constantly afraid of being made fun of or called names. I felt judged if my pop-punk bands were too “pop,” so god forbid I tell anyone I liked Madonna or The Bangles. It’s great to see more artists speaking out about this, because we have to break this stigma that if young women like a band that’s somehow worthy of criticism.