Last week, it was Tom Petty. Before him, it was Weird Al, Black Sabbath, Lionel Richie and Tony Bennett, all with #1 debuts on the Billboard charts. Is it our imagination or is there something different about the charts these days? Pitchfork was wondering, too.
No, the increase in No. 1 albums by quinquagenarians and sexagenarians only really began about a decade ago, at the dawn of the digital era—a couple of years after Napster, and around the same time Apple’s iTunes Music Store launched. Since the shift toward downloading and streaming music began to decimate the industry’s album-based sales model, the bar to reach No. 1 on the album chart has gotten lower—a definite factor for the oldster chart-toppers, though not the only one.