‘Empire’ Soundtrack Beats Madonna's "Rebel Heart" Album at the Billboard 200

8:59 AM EDT 3/19/2015 by Kara Michelle, Celebeat Reporter

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Fox TV's breakout hit series Empire lands at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, as its soundtrack debuts at the top of the list, ahead of Madonna's new "Rebel Heart" album.

According to Nielsen Music, the TV soundtrack sold the equivalent of 130,000 album units for the week ending March 15. Madonna's album was No. 2 with 121,000 album units. Billboard which has been using multi-metric consumption since December said the figures include on-demand streaming and digital track sales, as well as traditional album sales. Both the Empire soundtrack and Madonna's 13th studio album were released on March 10.

The Empire soundtrack features contributions from its newcomer cast, like Jussie Smollett, as well as hitmakers like Jennifer HudsonMary J. BligeEstelleRita Ora, Juicy J and Courtney Love, all of whom have also acted on the show. Smollet plays Andre Lyon, the eldest son of the Lyon family and the CFO of the fictional Empire Entertainment. It helped in the promotion of the soundtrack that he also performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on March 9 and on Fox's American Idol three days later.

In contrast, Madonna did not perform on U.S. TV during release week, though she did a series of interviews with multiple news outlets, including a 90-minute chat with Howard Stern.

Nielsen Entertainment analyst David Bakula observed: "When you get a show that is as tied into the music as this is, all the songs do fairly well. It's not like an album where one hit single goes to radio and that's all you hear. When you have exposure for every single song, it does have the appeal of a greatest-hits' collection."

The Empire soundtrack features performances not only by cast regular Smollett but also by lead star Terrence Howard, who plays Empire Entertainment's CEO Lucius Lyon. He may be heard in the duet "Shake Down" with Mary J. Bilge. Bryshere Y. Gray, who plays his TV son Hakeem, also performs three numbers on the soundtrack under his rapper stage name Yazz.

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