Music

Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’ Debuts at No. 2 on Billboard Chart

Thu., Jul. 19, 2012 7:51 AM EST
by Nicholas Robinson

The numbers are finally in and it looks like Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange debut has beaten the odds to land at the No. 2 spot on the Billboard 200 chart.

Last week, sales predictions projected that Ocean’s debut would sell  from 110,000 and 130,000 units. And according to Billboard, Channel Orange, which was bested by the Zac Brown Band’s Uncaged, did just slightly better than predicted, moving an incredible 131,000 units in its first week, mostly from iTunes sales. However, about 3,000 of that sum came from physical copies.

Ocean’s Billboard success marks an unconventional win for the rising singer, who released the album exclusively to iTunes a week before its street release date. With little promotion and no radio or video hits, Ocean’s Channel Orange has had one of the highest chart debuts of any other black artist this year. It’s already bested Usher’s first-week sales of Looking 4 Myself (128,000) and nearly matched the first-week sales figures of his former Twitter enemy, Chris Brown, whose Fortune bowed in on the chart with 135,000 units.

Channel Orange’s success is also stunning because of Ocean’s recent admission that his first love was a man. Being lumped into the world of hip-hop and R&B, the genre-bending singer seemed to be faced with the same difficulties that have plagued all closeted black artists have considered revealing their sexuality in genres that have never had an openly gay or bisexual star.

To put it bluntly, coming out in the world of hip-hop and R&B was historically thought to be career suicide.

But now Ocean’s chart success stands not only as a personal win for the singer/songwriter, but as a direct challenge to dated beliefs about sexuality and proof that there is room for a black, non-heterosexual superstar in the world of music.

We congratulate Ocean for a high chart debut, and like him, below are some other unconventional chart successes. – nicholas robinson

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