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Rebel Heart a commercial flop? Madonna’s new album is her worst-selling release in 20 years

on March 26, 2015, 11:20pm

Madonna’s latest album Rebel Heart opened to the singer’s worst sales week in more than two decades, and the results were even worse for week two.

Rebel Heart, the pop star’s thirteenth studio album, sold 116,000 copies in its first week of release. For comparison, her previous album, 2012’s MDNA, debuted with 359,00 copies sold. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1994’s Bedtime Stories to find a Madonna album that sold less albums in its first week of release. Rebel Heart is also the first of her albums not to debut at No. 1 since 1998’s Ray of Light.

This week’s sales numbers were even worse. Only 22,800 copies of Rebel Heart were sold over the last seven days — a drop in sales of 80% — plummeting the album’s chart position from No. 2 to No. 21.

Industry insiders chalk up the poor sales numbers to the premature leaking of Rebel Heart. Several tracks from the album appeared online back in December, forcing Madonna to push up the album’s release by several months.

Also, with the release of MDNA, Madonna offered copies of the album as part of ticket packages for the supporting tour, which she then counted toward the total number of albums sold. She’s employed a similar tactic for her Rebel Heart tour, but because several of these shows have yet to go on sale, there are no sales numbers to be counted.

It also doesn’t help that Rebel Heart is receiving less than stellar reviews.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly noted that Bedtime Stories was Madonna’s last album that failed to go No. 1. That album’s follow-up, Ray of Light, also debuted at No. 2. Additionally, Rebel Heart is No. 21 on this year’s Billboard Album Charts, not No. 22 as previously reported.