Sam Smith

Sam Smith photographed January 25, 2014 ar Siren Studios in Los Angels by Austin Hargrave.

Austin Hargrave

The British singer's aiming for No. 2 Billboard 200 next week, behind Lana Del Rey's likely No. 1

British singer Sam Smith and rock band Linkin Park are heading for the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart with their just-released albums -- though it looks like Lana Del Rey will block both acts from the No. 1 slot.

Industry sources forecast Del Rey's "Ultraviolence" (which -- like Smith and Linkin Park's efforts -- was released on June 17), could sell over 180,000 copies by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, June 22.

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That should surpass the handsome bow of Smith's debut album, "In the Lonely Hour," which might sell 150,000 to 160,000. It could arrive at No. 2.

Del Rey's major label debut, "Born To Die," bowed and peaked at No. 2 with 77,000 sold in the week ending Feb. 5, 2012, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It surpassed 1 million in total U.S. sales in March, and its cumulative sum stands at 1.07 million.

The new Billboard 200 chart's top 10 will be announced on Wednesday, June 25.

Notably, while Smith has been heavily promoting his album this week with multiple appearances and performances on radio stations and TV shows ("The Late Show With David Letterman," "Good Morning America"), Del Rey has been absent from the promotional circuit almost entirely. In fact, she hasn't performed on American TV in more than two years. Her last performance in the U.S. was on "American Idol" on March 22 of that year.

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Meanwhile, Linkin Park is aiming to sell around 110,000 to 110,000 of its latest album, "The Hunting Party." The band's last studio effort, 2012's "Living Things," debuted at No. 1 with 223,000. 

"The Hunting Party" will mark the first studio album from the band to miss the No. 1 slot since their first album, 2000's "Hybrid Theory," peaked at No. 2 in 2002. All four of their studio releases since -- along with a mash-ups collaborations effort with Jay Z -- have hit No. 1.

If sales projections hold, this week will be the first this year to see three albums each sell in excess of 100,000 copies. It last happened in the holiday frame ending Dec. 29, 2013. (The last time it occurred when sales weren't goosed by the Christmas shopping season was the week ending Oct. 6, 2013.) 

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After Del Rey, Smith and Linkin Park, look for country legend Willie Nelson to nab the fourth-largest debut on the chart. His new "Band of Brothers" album might sell around 35,000 or so, and should arrive in the top 10.

Jennifer Lopez will also debut with her latest, "A.K.A.," selling perhaps 30,000. Deadmau5's "while(1<2)" could do 30,000 as well.

On SoundScan's Building chart (below), Del Rey, Smith, Linkin Park, deadmau5 and Lopez are Nos. 1-5, respectively. The Building tally is a precursor to the final Billboard 200 ranking -- reflecting the first four days (Monday through Thursday) of SoundScan's tracking week as reported by six major merchants.

As for the rest of the top 10 on the Building Chart: the soundtrack to "Frozen" is No. 6, Miranda Lambert's "Platinum" is No. 7 and the "Now 50" album is No. 8. Brantley Gilbert's "Just As I Am" holds down the No. 9 slot, while "The Fault In Our Stars" soundtrack is No. 10.

Nielsen SoundScan Building Chart
Rank LW
BB 200
Artist Title
1 NEW Lana Del Rey "Ultraviolence"
2 NEW Sam Smith "In the Lonely Hour"
3 NEW Linkin Park "The Hunting Party"
4 NEW deadmau5 "while(1<2)"
5 NEW Jennifer Lopez "A.K.A."
6 3 Soundtrack "Frozen"
7 2 Miranda Lambert "Platinum"
8 6 Various Artists "Now 50"
9 4 Brantley Gilbert "Just As I Am"
10 5 Soundtrack "The Fault In Our Stars"
The Building Chart reflects the first four days (Monday through Thursday) of SoundScan's tracking week (which ends Sunday) as reported by six major merchants: iTunes, Trans World Entertainment, Best Buy, Starbucks, Target and Anderson Merchandisers. Billboard estimates that they make up about 85% of all U.S. album sales.