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Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.

IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE ...

Hi there Gary,

Since it's actually been cold enough for a jacket the last few days, I was reminded that the holiday album season is about to kick off again. What do you think are the biggest potential sellers in this year's crop of seasonal records?

And, would you mind providing updated sales information on some of the biggest holiday albums from recent years? How many copies have such former Billboard 200 No. 1s as Susan Boyle's "The Gift" and Josh Groban's "Noel" sold? How about winter-themed albums in recent years from Sting, Enya and Sarah McLachlan? And, Andrea Bocelli's "My Christmas," from 2009? I'm always interested to know which holiday albums continue selling beyond their initial years of release.

Thanks!

Mark Blankenship
New York, New York

Hi Mark,

Two weeks before Halloween and more than a month before Thanksgiving, let's, like the retail world, begin focusing on the yuletide season!

First, some holiday releases from superstar artists are on the way.

One of the potential biggest-sellers looks to be Michael Buble's "Christmas." Due Oct. 24, the album features covers of standard holiday fare, including a cover of "White Christmas" with fellow Canadian Shania Twain.

A week later, Justin Bieber releases "Under the Misteltoe," a title surely crafted with the singer's imaginative Bieber Fever-infected fans in mind. Not that it likely needs the extra star power, but the album is set to include featured turns by Usher ("The Christmas Song"), Busta Rhymes ("Drummer Boy") and the Band Perry ("Home This Christmas"), plus a duet with Mariah Carey on a remake of her 1994 holiday classic "All I Want for Christmas Is You." (Bieber was six months old when Carey released the original version).

Here's Carey discussing the "festive collabo":

Other holiday releases due this season include She & Him's (the duo featuring "New Girl" star Zooey Deschanel) "A Very She & Him Christmas" and Keb' Mo's "The Spirit of the Holiday" (EP), both out Oct. 24, while Nov. 1 brings Carole King's cleverly-named "A Holiday Carole," the legendary singer-songwriter's first holiday album.

Also new this year: Chicago's "O Christmas Three," featuring duets with America, Dolly Parton and BeBe Winans; "Seasons Greetings: a Jersey Boys Christmas"; and, a new version of the late Dean Martin's 2008 album, "My Kind of Christmas," featuring an "Unforgettable"-type duet of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" with Scarlett Johansson.

Should any of these releases go on to become perennial holiday sellers - Buble and Bieber's seem like strong possibilities - they could join the list of the best-selling holiday albums of all-time.

Here's a look at the top-selling holiday albums in the U.S. dating to the advent of Nielsen Soundscan data in 1991:

1, "Miracles - the Holiday Album," Kenny G (7.23 million)
2, "Noel," Josh Groban (5.28)
3, "These Are Special Times," Celine Dion (5.17)
4, "Merry Christmas," Mariah Carey (5.12)
5, "Christmas in the Aire," Mannheim Steamroller (3.73)
6, "A Fresh Aire Christmas," Mannheim Steamroller (3.61)
7, "Christmas," Mannheim Steamroller (3.48)
8, "Now That's What I Call Christmas!," various artists (3.39)
9, "Christmas Eve and Other Stories," Trans-Siberian Orchestra (3.19)
10, "When My Heart Finds Christmas," Harry Connick, Jr. (3.08)

Just outside the top 10 are Bocelli's "My Christmas" (2.59 million) and Boyle's "The Gift (1.9 million).

Of the other albums you mention, McLachlan's "Wintersong" leads with to-date sales of 1,001,000, followed by Enya's "And Winter Came..." (838,000) and Sting's "If on a Winter's Night..." (613,000).

(*Update, per the comments below: Garth Brooks' "Beyond the Season" has sold 2.65 million, according to SoundScan, and "The Magic of Christmas," 1.44 million).

Happy HallowThanksChrismakkah!

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