Controversy Over ‘Clerical Error’ Causing 5SOS to Miss Out On #1 Album

Isabella Ambrosio sums up the ongoing controversy surrounding the release and chart position of 5SOS' new album CALM, following a 'clerical error' to do with the early release of records to Ticket Master customers.

Australian band, 5 Seconds of Summer, also known as 5SOS, were on their way to achieving their fourth album debuting at #1 with CALM, but a third party made a mistake, costing them their historic achievement of being the first band to have four albums debut at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 (following One Direction, who were the first vocal group to achieve this).

On March 23rd, Ticketmaster prematurely released around 11,000 copies of the album, before their set release date of March 27th. Ashton Irwin, the drummer, explained to fans in a video posted to Twitter that the actual amount of albums released were in the tens of thousands, but the band and their management managed to save most of them from hitting the market. Customers were receiving a copy of the album from Ticketmaster after purchasing a ticket to 5SOS’s No Shame tour in North America from a bundle that 5SOS were offering.

Selling over 160,000 copies of CALM in the first week, the band lost their #1 spot to The Weeknd, who sold only 2,000 albums more than 5SOS. If Billboard counted the 11,000 albums, instead of prematurely having the album debut at #62 the week before, 5SOS would have received their fourth #1 debut album, succeeding The Weeknd by over 7,000 albums.

The issue that lies here is that Billboard did not recognise the 11,000 albums which would be in accordance with their policies. Fans read Billboard’s policies for early releases, which were updated in January of 2020, that state if albums that came with ticket bundles were received by customers before the album’s release date, it would not affect their debut. 5SOS fans were quick to call out the issue, with hashtags such as ‘#billboardspeakup’ and ‘#billboardcountthe10k’ which began trending worldwide following the irregularity. Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Harry Styles and Zayn Malik had albums released prematurely due to ticket bundles and third-party errors, but it did not affect their debut weeks, in keeping with Billboard’s policies.

While Billboard never corrected the issue, 5 Seconds of Summer fans had major US radio stations and magazines such as Alternative Press and the Rolling Stone Australia talking about the error. The hashtags still appear on Twitter’s Trending page around the globe. A petition was even created with over 37,000 signatures to ‘rewrite history’ ( as of the 20th of April. Fans are still fighting to correct the error, but by the looks of it, after approximately 3 weeks, Billboard will not be addressing or correcting the error made.

In the court of public opinion online, people believe 5SOS did rightfully deserve the #1 debut. Unfortunately, Billboard has shown that they disagree.

- Isabella Ambrosio