LOS ANGELES — He didn’t quite hit the million-sold mark, though he came awfully close.
Capping a whirlwind promotional run that included hosting “Saturday Night Live,” performing on five consecutive episodes of “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” and playing an intimate club gig at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, Justin Timberlake enters the Billboard 200 album chart this week at No. 1.
Billboard reported late Tuesday that “The 20/20 Experience,” Timberlake’s third studio disc, had sold 968,000 copies between its release March 19 and Sunday evening, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It’s the biggest first-week sales figure since Taylor Swift’s “Red” moved 1.2 million in November, and it sets a new personal record for Timberlake, whose previous solo album, 2006’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” debuted with 684,000 copies.
Timberlake’s old band ‘NSync holds the all-time one-week record: In 2000, it sold 2.4 million copies of “No Strings Attached.”
Bill Werde, Billboard’s editorial director, said Wednesday that the album’s impressive bow reflected the unique — and “very combustible” — combination of elements surrounding “The 20/20 Experience,” which marked the long-anticipated return to music of a “talent juggernaut who can dance, sing, act and isn’t hard on the eyes.”
“There aren’t a ton of teachable moments in the campaign,” Werde said. “The ultimate takeaway here is that if you can be Justin Timberlake, that’s a pretty good thing to be.”
On July 17, the singer is to launch a month-long tour of North American stadiums with Jay-Z, who appears on Timberlake’s single “Suit & Tie.” And last week, he confirmed rumors that “The 20/20 Experience” is the first installment in a planned two-part project. Details for the second album have yet to be released.
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