Shattering a lot of the rules of television, Fox’s Empire has been the No. 1 show on the Big 4 networks for weeks, and now its soundtrack is the No. 1 album in the country. The hip-hop soap debuts in the top spot on the Billboard 200 this week, and it’s no rare feat — especially for a network drama series. Not only has the sales-plus-streams of the freshman show beaten a musical icon for the top spot, but the last time any TV soundtrack reached No. 1 on the charts was back in 2010, when three Glee collections hit the top spot (also a Fox show). Now those were covers of classics but for a TV soundtrack of tunes performed by the original artists, it’s been three decades since a network series turned the trick. You have to go all the way back to the first Miami Vice soundtrack, which spent 11 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 in 1985-86. Yes, a couple of Hannah Montana albums and High School Musical soundtracks topped in the chart in the mid-’00s, but they’re cable fodder.
Billboard’s official stats come out Wednesday morning, but leaked numbers suggest Original Soundtrack From Season 1 Of Empire will keep Madonna from having a No. 1 debut for the first time since 1998. Sorry, Material Girl, but it’s just the latest coup for the breakout hit of the TV season. Empire‘s ratings grew in each of its first nine weeks on the air and last week hit a high of 14.9 million. This ahead of its two-hour season finale tomorrow night.
More on the soundtrack, though. Among its songs are “Walk Out On Me,” featuring Courtney Love — meaning the Hole frontwomanhas her first No. 1 record. And another track from the album, “Money For Nothing,” is based on the Dire Straits single of the same name culled from that band’s 1985 disc Brothers In Arms. And what album kicked it out of the No. 1 spot back in 1985? The Miami Vice soundtrack, of course — which came out 30 years ago on October 26.
Ah, the circle of life. Oh wait, that’s from another chart-topping soundtrack.