This ain’t no sham: As projected, Mumford & Sons’ sincerely unadventurous second LP Babel had the biggest debut sales week of the year, according to Billboard. Moving more than 600,000 copies, the British folk-rockers handily beat out 2012 releases by Justin Bieber, Madonna, and Pink.
In fact, the Mumfords just about doubled the unit-shifting performance of some of pop’s biggest stars. Justin Bieber’s Believe, with opening-week sales of 374,000, falls to second place. Madonna is next with first-week sales of 359,000 for MDNA, followed by Pink’s The Truth About Love at 280,000.
Babel is also the first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart for both Mumford & Sons and their label, Glassnote Records. But it’s also the biggest sales week for a rock album since AC/DC’s Black Ice sold 784,000 in its debut week, good for a No. 1 slot on the November 8, 2008 chart.
Of course, there’s no defeating Adele. The singer’s 21 still had the biggest overall sales week of 2012, despite coming out last year.
But Babel set plenty of other marks. It was the biggest sales week ever for Sony’s independent-label distribution arm RED Distribution, topping the 394,000 units moved by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s The Art of War way back in 1997.
Mumford’s music may have old-timey elements, but their sales came via modern technology. Babel had the second-most digital album sales in a week ever, with 420,000 downloads sold. That’s behind Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, which sold 662,000 downloads in its opening week back in 2011, helped by an Amazon 99-cent deal.