The story behind 5 Seconds of Summers’ ‘CALM’ clerical error.


Kaylea Kuhlman, Editor in Chief

NORFOLK-Remember that feeling of being in a competitive ball game during a physical education class in elementary school? Even with your team fighting as hard as you can to win the game, your team still loses. You later find out someone on the other team was cheating to win points. That is the feeling that the band 5 Seconds of Summer and their fanbase felt on April 4. 

On March 27, 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) released their fourth studio album, CALM. Even with the world being flipped upside down with the coronavirus pandemic, the band still released the album for people to enjoy while being at home.  

The week prior to the release, over 10,000 physical copies were “accidentally” shipped out to fans in the United States that had redeemed an album that came for free along with a purchase of tickets from Ticketmaster to their upcoming North American tour called No Shame.  

CALM was also released a few hours early to some fans that had pre-ordered the album on iTunes.  

With these sales being in the week prior to the intentional release week, the 10,000+ released album sales counted toward the week before. This made the album chart at 62 on the Billboard Top 100 Charts.  

The band then released a statement on social media alerting fans that this incident has happened, which provided an explanation as to why the album that was not released yet, was on the charts.  

This sparked an outrage from the fans,  as everyone had begun to realize it could impact the charts for CALM’s actual release week. Many fans that had redeemed an album with a ticket sale, still did not receive their copy until a few days to weeks after the album was actually released even though they were considered album sales for the week they were shipped.  

5 Seconds of Summer’s first three albums all debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, so the band and the fans knew they had an important tradition to uphold. 

From there on, the fans and the band themselves did everything they could to make up for the lost album sales with new sales. As the predictions were showing they had high competition and close numbers in sales, many fans had bought multiple copies and exclusive merchandise deals that went toward the Billboard Charts. Most fans were also constantly streaming the album on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube etc.  

The final chart predictions released the day before the official Billboard statistics and it had shown that 5SOS had gotten the number two spot at 132K, with “After Hours” by The Weekend at number one with 135K, the artists had a 2,556-album sale difference.  

The 5SOS fans immediately began tweeting at the Billboard account on Twitter and posting over social media with hashtags #BillboardCountThe10K, #BillboardSpeakUp etc.  

One fan had begun a petition on which has since then obtained over 37K signatures 

A fan of the band, Kelsey Kellsey, said, “it is really unfortunate to see an album that had so much time and work put into it get the short end of the stick and not get the widespread recognition it should have.” 

With the added 10K copies, the band would have had a 7K lead and would have beat their own record with their fourth number one album.  

This issue has allegedly happened with other artists, some of these include Harry Styles, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber. All of these artists had their issue resolved and had no penalty against them. 

When the official charts were released and 5 Seconds of Summer’s CALM was charted at number two, Billboard confirmed due to the clerical error and a new policy created earlier in the year, that the album sales that were wrongfully added in the week prior, were not going to be added to the sales the week the album was supposed to chart.