Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’ falls to No. 4, with an asterisk

Frank Ocean at the Wiltern.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
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When it comes to the U.S. pop charts, rising R&B; star Frank Ocean can’t seem to get a break. Although his major label debut, “Channel Orange,” had a fine first week on the charts, the album’s exclusivity with iTunes meant it never really had a shot at the top spot. This week, a low-balling sale via online retailer Amazon means the album has a sharper second week drop than expected.

Despite being available only at iTunes, “Channel Orange” bowed at No. 2 on last week’s pop chart with 131,000 copies sold in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. In its second week of release -- and first week that physical and digital outlets carried it -- “Channel Orange” sold 54,000 copies, placing it at No. 4 on this week’s pop chart.

But there’s a caveat. “Channel Orange” was sold as a download by Amazon at the low price of $2.99. That means that any album Ocean sold at Amazon was not reflected on this week’s pop chart, as Billboard does not recognize the sale of an album priced below $3.49 within the first four weeks of its release.


Exactly how much that affected Ocean’s chart position is not yet known. SoundScan, which tracks retail sales for the Billboard charts, does not break out numbers by outlet.

Billboard earlier noted that “Channel Orange” was expected to sell about 15,000 copies at Amazon, which would have given “Channel Orange” a second week tally of 69,000 and placed the title at No. 3. All told, in two weeks of release, “Channel Orange” has officially sold 185,000 copies, a total, of course, that does not include the sale-priced Amazon downloads.

Amazon’s pricing wreaks havoc on other aspects of the chart too. For instance, the No. 6 album on the chart this week is Phil Collins’ 1998 collection “...Hits.” Why? Amazon sold the title for 99 cents; it’s been out more than four weeks, so its sales count on the chart. The Collins title sold about 40,000 copies this week, up from about 900 last week.

Another 99-cent-priced title, Bruno Mars’ “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,” blasts from No. 135 all the way up to No. 11. “Doo-Wops” sold 27,000 copies this week, compared to just more than 600 copies last week.

Meanwhile, there’s no fine print that’s kept veteran rapper Nas outside the top spot with his latest, “Life Is Good.” That album sold 149,000 copies in its first week, giving Nas his sixth No. 1 album. The artist’s 2008 untitled effort also landed at No. 1, but sold 187,000 copies when it did so.

Last week’s chart topper, “Uncaged,” from country outfit the Zac Brown Band, slips to No. 2. The album sold 78,000 copies over the last week and has amassed a two-week total of 313,000 copies sold.


Also new in the top 10 this week is the 22nd volume in the “Kidz Bop” series, which arrives at No. 3 with 64,000 copies sold, and the Hans Zimmer soundtrack to “The Dark Knight Rises,” which bows at No. 8 with 33,000 copies sold.


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