Music Industry

Tool unseats Taylor Swift atop the album charts to take the number one spot–including Canada.

There was an old-school chart battle this week to see who would end up at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums. Tool, positioned as the underdog, had just released Fear Inoculum, their first album in over 13 years. Their competition: Taylor Swift, a mainstream pop juggernaut who had sold the equivalent of nearly 850,000 copies of Lover in its first week.

Could Lover, supported by the undying devotion of the Swifties, could survive an onslaught mounted by the Tool faithful? The debate raged all last week and continued after the chart week closed at 11:59 PDT on Thursday.

We can now declare a winner: Tool.

Fear Inoculum has debuted at #1 on the Top 200 by selling an equivalent of 270,000 units (a number that factors in streaming metrics) of which 248,000 were physical copies. That second number is astounding given that fans could only buy a special deluxe package that cost at least US$45 or the bare-bones digital download. A standard package and a vinyl edition are still to come.

The last rock album to move similar numbers was Come Tomorrow from The Dave Matthews Band back in June 2018 when 285,000 people bought the CD.

And what of Tay-Tay? Sales of Lover dropped 79% from week one, resulting in sales of 187,000. Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell finished third with a grand total of 104,000 equivalent sales (and 66,000 CDs).

Here in Canada, it wasn’t even close. Tool sold 21,393 copies of Fear Inoculum, more than the rest of the top ten combined. They finished way ahead of Norman Fucking Rockwell’s 8,315 units, a difference of 13,523. Swift dropped to number three, selling another 6,291 copies. That’s down a whopping 23,429 or 79%.

Tool also debuted at number one in Australia, New Zealand, Norway, and Belgium.

In the UK, Lana and NFR finished in the top spot while Tool rolled up at number four, which is still very good. Fear Inoculum is also in the top five in Germany, The Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, and Finland.

Again, Tool accomplished all this with a physical CD that sold for no less than $45. Wow.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38134 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “Tool unseats Taylor Swift atop the album charts to take the number one spot–including Canada.

  • Just wow. Cool to see what dedicated fans and 13 years in the making can pull off. Hope the Swifties aren’t too salty.

  • I don’t think the charts have any value now that people don’t purchase physical product anymore. How many people stream something on a whim but would never buy it in a store if that was the only way to have it? So Tool sold 480,000 physical units but the rest “equivalents” are just out there in the ether. How many physical units has Taylor Swift sold? I’m willing to bet most of hers are streamed. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Anyway no one sells millions of copies that used to be necessary to get a number one on the charts.


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