For the first time since 1998, Madonna released an album that didn’t debut at No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Her usurper? The Empire soundtrack. (Fun fact: The Titanic soundtrack is what ousted her in 1998. Even the Queen of Pop can’t beat a cultural juggernaut.)
Here are five totally subjective reasons why Empire‘s soundtrack smoked the competition – and some of the songs didn’t even make the final cut!
"Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number"
Hakeem’s (Bryshere Gray) ode to May/December romance – featuring Naomi Campbell! – didn’t make the soundtrack, though you can still listen to it on Spotify and purchase it on iTunes. Though hearing “the older the berry, the sweeter the juice” is as laugh-inducing as it is cringe-inducing, there’s no arguing that this song is a jam.
We already praised this song once before. Sure, it’s a bit of a cheat since this is an Estelle single made into a duet featuring Jussie Smollett (who plays Jamal), but Smollett’s vocals are absolutely beautiful on this song, making an already incredible track downright inspiring.
"Keep Your Money"
As great as this song is (very), what’s even better is that, on the show, Jamal was inspired to write the song after essentially performing a hip-hop version of Stomp in his sketchy Brooklyn neighborhood. Trash can lids and shouting initially provided the acoustics for this song. Also, we love anything that throws shade at Lyon family patriarch Lucious (Terrence Howard). Keep your money, indeed.
The best songs on Empire are the ones that make Lucious annoyed. “No Apologies” was originally Hakeem’s song, but he was having trouble really making it hit until Jamal stepped in with an incredible hook. Lucious was not pleased to see the boys collaborating, given that he is a terrible person who hates Jamal for being gay.
"You’re So Beautiful"
Another song that made Lucious furious was “You’re So Beautiful,” as performed by Jamal in the episode “The Lyon’s Roar.” Originally a Lucious Lyon song, Jamal’s arrangement of the track not only made it better, but he used it as an opportunity to come out of the closet. Lucious was not pleased to have his words used in such a way, which makes the song even more fun. The version on the soundtrack also features Gray (who performs under the stage name “Yazz”).
Sorry, Madonna – Empire was always going to have this one in the bag.
Empire‘s season finale airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.