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This week’s Billboard charts indicate lagging sales and streams in the album sector

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The music industry may be in a summer slump. NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas reports on lagging sales and streams on this week's Billboard charts.

ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS, BYLINE: For a ninth straight week, Taylor Swift's "The Tortured Poets Department" remains at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, but she earned only 126,000 units this week - down from more than 2 1/2 million in the album's first week. Apparently, even hardcore Swifties may finally be approaching their saturation point.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I CAN DO IT WITH A BROKEN HEART")

TAYLOR SWIFT: (Singing) I was grinning like I'm winning. I was hitting my marks, 'cause I can do it with a broken heart.

TSIOULCAS: At No. 2 is Billie Eilish's "Hit Me Hard And Soft," an album which Billboard - perhaps less than charitably - describes this week as a, quote, "non-mover." It's down 20%.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIRDS OF A FEATHER")

BILLIE EILISH: (Singing) Birds of a feather, we should stick together. I know I said I'd never think I wasn't better alone.

TSIOULCAS: At No.s 3 and 4, Don Toliver's "Hardstone Psycho" and Morgan Wallen's "One Thing At A Time," and neither one cracked 77,000 equivalent album units. If there's any good news this week, it could be for the New Orleans hip-hop duo Suicideboys. They landed their biggest chart numbers to date with "New World Depression," at No. 5, but they hit No. 1 on Billboard's vinyl albums chart. What may have helped them there - the simultaneous release of six different album variants, including in shades of green, gray and gold.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ARE YOU GOING TO SEE THE ROSE IN THE VASE, OR THE DUST ON THE TABLE?")

SUICIDEBOYS: (Singing) I'm starting to unravel, surrounded by all these snakes and jackals. They keep tempting me to eat the apple. I need to tie up loose ends, form these threads into a tassel.

TSIOULCAS: A brief history lesson - selling colored vinyl - and, before that, colored shellac - has been a marketing strategy since nearly the dawn of recorded music. As early as the 1910s, labels like Vocalion were pressing brightly colored 78s to attract consumers. Challengers to Taylor Swift, take note. Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FORTNIGHT")

SWIFT: (Singing) And for a fortnight there, we were forever. Run into you sometimes, ask about... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.