Big news for the biggest TV hit of the season: Empire’s soundtrack debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 charts, beating out Madonna’s Rebel Heart, which came out at No. 2.
Industry forecasters were watching the throne closely, with King Lear Lucious and the Queen of Pop battling for the top spot—even though Empire wasn’t even a contender until the last minute. As Billboard reports, a week before the TV soundtrack’s release, experts predicted sales of around 25,000. But after the release, that prediction rose 500 percent to 125,000 units—the same number predicted for Rebel Heart.
Empire (Columbia Records) has sold 130,000 units as of March 15, while Rebel Heart (The Live Nation/Interscope) underperformed slightly with 121,000. Billboard’s metrics take into account album sales, streaming equivalent albums (SEA) and track equivalent albums (TEA).
The Empire soundtrack is the first TV soundtrack to have a No. 1 debut since 2010, when Glee put three albums at the top. Rebel Heart is Madonna’s 21st top 10 album. The Lyons may have beat Her Madgesty in the short term, but only time (and 20 more soundtrack albums) will tell who ultimately prevails.