December 6, 2011

Admittedly, the 4 era has been tainted by not-so-friendly radio singles, disorganization and a bit of controversy. Nonetheless, the album represents a wholesome and classic body of work that fans were excited to purchase in June of 2011. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 310,000 and remained atop for a total of two weeks. To date, 4 is Beyoncé's slowest-selling album and is where Beyoncé experienced the lowest debut sales of her career as a solo artist. Thus, many people (or haters) have enjoyed calling 4 a failure...but wait a minute!

A sales unit this large in the first week is not an easy task. While this number may be low compared to Beyoncé's first-week sales standards (Dangerously in Love: 317,000; B'Day: 541,000; I Am...Sasha Fierce: 482,000) it is a commendable feat for most artists in the music industry. Not to mention, Beyoncé had no top 10 singles on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart during this era.

Here are a few examples to put this into perspective:

  • On January 11, 2011, Britney Spears released Hold It Against Me as the lead single from Femme Fatale. Hold It Against Me received a lot of attention and was a commercial success. Yet, Femme Fatale debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of only 276,000.
  • In February 2011, Jennifer Lopez released On the Floor, the lead single from her new album, Love? The single was a commercial success, not only peaking at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it has also been certified 3x platinum by the RIAA. The album, Love? debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 86,000.
  • Finally, this Fall, Rihanna released We Found Love as the lead single from her new album Talk That Talk. Not long after its release, We Found Love made its way to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. This made for Rihanna's 11th number one single in the United States, tying with Whitney Houston. With that said, Talk That Talk debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 197,000.

This says a lot about Beyoncé's star power and the tremendous amount of support by her fans. It means a lot to us fans to see Beyoncé's hard work paying off as we get to watch her grow as an artist. It feels even greater to see, despite the downfalls, 4 being recognized as a great piece of art by others as well. Many people often say "Beyoncé doesn't care about her fans!" but I guess they didn't know that she let fans name the album.

Check out the links below to see how four placed amongst Beyoncé's peers.