Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album is still racking up the highest sales of 2021, thanks to solid streaming numbers and physical purchases.
It’s been an extremely rocky year for Morgan Wallen, though it looks like the controversy is translating into serious sales. According to first-half, US-based sales data released this morning by MRC Data (formerly Nielsen Music), Morgan Wallen easily topped the album sales list for 2021, beating out competitors like Olivia Rodrigo, Justin Bieber, Pop Smoke, The Weeknd, Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande.
For the most part, Morgan Wallen’s album sales trounced the competition. According to the tally, Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album scored 2.108 million album equivalent sales, which is a calculated composite of on-demand music streams, YouTube video views, physical and digital album sales, and other formats like song downloads. That over-arching tally easily beating second-place finisher Olivia Rodrigo by 740,000 units (Rodrigo’s SOUR finished the first half with 1.367 million album equivalent units, according to MRC).
Other didn’t come close: Justin Bieber’s Justice finished in third place with 962,000 album equivalents, Pop Smoke’s Aim for the Stars Shoot for the Moon clocked 948,000, and The Weeknd’s After Hours finished the period with 832,000.
It’s important to note that Taylor Swift beat Morgan Wallen in core album sales, which doesn’t factor on-demand streaming or other formats like song downloads into the mix. On that front, Swift’s evermore scored 374,000 units, compared to Wallen’s 241,000 for the yearly period ending June 30th.
Outside of core album sales, however, Wallen also enjoyed yawning leads in both audio streaming and video streaming (for example, on Spotify and YouTube, respectively).
Another category in which Wallen’s album didn’t beat the competition was song sales. In that realm, Dua Lipa easily took the cake, with The Weeknd and Justin Bieber also beating out Wallen. Overall, however, the mid-year picture was one of relative dominance for Wallen’s release.
That’s doubly impressive considering that Wallen was effectively canceled in early February of this year.
That’s when Morgan Wallen said the n-word outside of his residence in Nashville. The slur was filmed by a neighbor and promptly published by TMZ. After the video went viral, Wallen found himself yanked from virtually every major radio station, streaming platform, and awards show. William Morris Endeavor, which oversaw Wallen’s lucrative touring career, quickly dropped the artist, and Wallen eventually canceled all of his summer tour dates.
Most predicted that Wallen was done after that point, though the exact opposite occurred. Wallen’s fans protested the cancellation, and streams and sales of Dangerous started surging. Eventually, country radio stations reintegrated Wallen’s music into their playlists as fans continued to retreat towards streaming platforms. Even Spotify started reintegrating Wallen into some of their marquee playlists, and coordinated a special Dangerous edition with the help of Wallen’s label, Big Loud/Republic (Republic Records is part of Universal Music Group).
Incidentally, Big Loud also reinstated Wallen after temporarily ‘suspending’ the artist, a move designed to ride out the controversy while retaining one of the industry’s most lucrative stars.