Fans of U2 have been waiting patiently for the next in the Songs series, Songs of Experience. The band had been working on the sister album to Songs of Innocence (2014) for some time and in summer 2017, the wait seemed soon to be over. Experience was released on Dec. 1 and after its first full week, it enters the Billboard Top 200 Albums charts at No. 1 on the Dec. 12 update.
Experience opens with 186,000 overall units and of that number, 180,000 were in actual album sales much thanks to a ticket bundle for the 2018 eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour (purchase tickets here). Artists using bundles to sell albums have become increasingly popular over the course of the past year and fans who purchase tickets receive a redemption code for a digital or physical copy. Ticket purchasers who do not redeem the code do not count towards the sales week.
The new album from U2 is now their eighth No. 1 on the tally. The previous chart topper, No Line on the Horizon, opened at the top in 2009 with a strong 434,000 copies sold at a time when only sales counted towards the Top 200 formula. At that time, it had been five years since U2's last release - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004).
The lead up to Songs of Experience began in the spring when U2 began performing the new song "The Little Things That Give You Away" and performed it on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in May. During the summer, fans noticed a sign at a show that read the band was shooting video footage for "Best Thing" ("You're the Best Thing About Me"). A fan who was later brought up on stage was spotted entering the venue wearing a jacket reading, "The best things are easy to destroy." Another piece of information came when the band performed "The Blackout" several times at an intimate concert of roughly 300 attendees.
In September, U2 released lead single "You're the Best Thing About Me" and it was all but official Songs of Experience was on its way despite some fans having doubts due to the lengthy period it has taken between albums in the past. "Best Thing" now holds the record for the most No. 1s on the Adult Alternative Songs chart with 13. On Nov. 24, U2 released a limited edition 12" vinyl of "The Blackout" for Record Store Day Black Friday.