Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Nearly five years after releasing his last full-length project, Purpose, Justin Bieber made his long-awaited return last week with Changes, and his fans responded by getting the singer his seventh No. 1 album on the Billboard 200.
Changes earned 231,000 equivalent units in its debut week, with 126,000 coming from traditional album sales, and 101,000 accounting for SEA, or streaming equivalent albums, which equates to 135 million on-demand streams of the album's songs.
Changes became the third-highest debut of 2020, trailing only Eminem’s Music to Be Murdered By (279,000), and Manic by Halsey (239,000). Bieber's latest project didn't quite meet projections, which had it pegged in the range of 270,000 to 320,000 equivalent album units, and 185,000 to 210,000 from traditional album purchases. Despite its strong debut numbers, Purpose earned nearly triple (649,000) as many units as Changes in its first week.
Bieber's winding life journey that led into releasing Changes was documented in the YouTube series Seasons, where he opened up about his marriage to Hailey Bieber, his past drug use, and his battle with Lyme disease. He also discussed the false starts that he dealt with when it came to creating music, and what helped him break out of his stagnancy.
"What's been challenging over the years is a lot of the time I'd make music and it would be for me," Bieber said. "When the focus and the goal is about yourself, you tend to lose your purpose in that. The older that I get, the more I realize I’m not utilizing my gift for the right reasons. It’s not about me. It’s about helping someone who’s going through whatever they're going through."
Meanwhile, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie's latest album Artist 2.0 finished second in its debut week as projected, after earning 111,000 equivalent album units. The performance of his third studio project on the Billboard 200 chart was primarily attributed to its streaming numbers, which made it the most-streamed album of the week with 106,000 SEA units, or 149 million on-demand streams.
Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush finished in a close third, with 110,000 equivalent album units. It's the highest that Kevin Parker's project has ever charted. Unlike A Boogie, Slow Rush was mostly aided by traditional album sales that sat at around 80,000.