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Beyoncé Knowles Carter, a.k.a. the Carmen Sandiego of Pop, added another record to her collection today: her secret surprise album was the fastest-selling in iTunes' history.

Granted, the iTunes store's history only goes back to 2003, but still.

Billboard says it's also "all but guaranteed" to debut at No. 1 on its chart, expected to sell around 600,000 copies in America by December 15 -- "a remarkable figure for an album with less than four days of availability."

That also means all five of Beyoncé's albums have debuted on the top of Billboard's charts.

New York Times says that "at least 14 million people in the United States were exposed to Beyoncé’s new songs over the radio by Sunday night," because you don't just listen to a Beyoncé song; you are exposed to it, like a work of art, or a radioactive substance.

Of course, the big story was how word of the release spread across social media (or "broke the Internet," as the not-at-all-prone-to-exaggeration-Variety put it). Twitter's data team went and made a heat map of Beyoncé-related tweets as news of her album spread across the world:


Worldwide, "BEYONCÉ" has sold almost 830,000 copies.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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