Katy Perry may have been locked in a cold war with Taylor Swift, but it didn't stop her from topping the charts yet again. The first week sales numbers for her latest project, Witness, have arrived, and she's No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart for the third time in her career.
Witness clocked in with a healthy 180,000 equivalent album units in its first week, with the majority of those units coming from traditional album sales. Perry's latest album moved 162,000 traditional units in week one, powering her to the No. 1 spot on the chart. It's the biggest week for an album by a woman this year, and the largest since Lady Gaga's Joanne opened with 201,000 units in November 2016.
Despite the strong showing, Perry's latest effort is a bit of a decline from her previous work. Her previous album, Prism, opened with 286,000 sales in week one, which dwarfs Perry's total effort for Witness, let alone traditional sales. Prism launched during a different period for sales—it was prior to the adaptation of units-based ranking at the top of the chart—but Witness represents a drop-off nonetheless.
Behind Perry on the charts are a pair of TDE artists, one with an old project and one in her first week. SZA grabbed the No. 3 spot during the first week for Ctrl, with her full-length studio debut moving 60,000 units in week one. It's a massive leap forward for SZA, whose previous peak on the Billboard 200 was her mixtape Z hitting No. 39 back in 2014.
If you ask SZA, her success comes down to staying true to herself. She appeared on a recent episode of Everyday Struggle, and explained her mindset going into the creation of Ctrl.
"When you first make an album, you only have your favorite albums from your favorite artists," she said. "And you don't come close to touching them. How do I satisfy myself sonically?"
The only thing standing in between SZA and a debut at No. 2 was none other than label mate Kendrick Lamar, whose album Damn remains entrenched in the top three after nine weeks of sales. It only dropped five percent from the previous week, and Damn collected another 69,000 units over two months after its initial release. They don't call him King Kendrick for no reason.