Will Tool’s new album dislodge Taylor Swift from the number one spot on the charts this week? Could happen.

Whenever Taylor Swift releases an album, it’s a given that it will debut at #1 on the album charts. That, of course, is what happened with Lover this week, a record that sold the equivalent of 867,000 copies, a figure that includes 679,000 CDs and digital downloads. To put it another way, the album accounted for 27% of all album sales in America.

In Canada, Lover crushed the SoundScan charts, selling 29,720 physical units, 27,000 more than second-place Slipknot with We Are Not Your Kind. Lover sold more than the next 148 albums on the chart combined.

But will Tay-Tay be able to hold off Tool’s Fear Inoculum to stay at #1 this week? Maybe not.

Consider:

  • Diehard Swifties ran out to buy/download/stream Lover as soon it was available. A big chunk of them–probably the majority of her fans–already have the album. That points to an inevitable drop-off in the second week.
  • Tool fans waited over 13 years for Fear Inoculum, so they were very anxious to get their hands on a copy. I’ve heard reports of people actually lining up outside record stores before they opened so they could buy the CD. When was the last time that happened?
  • I’ve also been told that despite many record stores ordering several hundred copies of Fear Inoculum, they quickly sold out.
  • Tool is at #1 on both the American and Canadian iTunes sales charts.
  • For the first time ever, all of Tool’s music is available on all streaming platforms. Those who couldn’t get to a store (or couldn’t be bothered) have been streaming Fear Inoculum. (As of today, the title track is the 794th most-streamed song in Canada with 250,005 listens. Then again, Tay-Tay’s “Lover” has been streamed 3,079,827 times.)

Forbes has been thinking about the situation, analyzing the sales curve of Swift’s last album. Their projection is that Lover will see a 70% drop in sales this week, resulting in a second week total of 260,000 units.

They did the same thing for Fear Inoculum. Despite shortages, the high cost of the deluxe version with his HD screen-equipped packaging, the still-impending (and much cheaper) standard release, and the absence of a vinyl version (it’s coming). Forbes believes that the record will do extremely well. Their prediction is that it will move 300,000 total units in the US.

Canada? Generally, we apply the 10% rule. We have roughly one-tenth the population of America, so it stands to reason that we’ll buy one-tenth the number of albums. That would mean 30,000 Canadians will buy/download/stream a copy of Fear Inoculum this week. That would be huge.

Tool fans are definitely motivated. But you know the Swifties. They might just go out and buy/download more copies of Lover just to kept their hero at #1.

The chart week ends at 11:59 PM PT Thursday. We’ll know the final numbers shortly thereafter.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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.

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