As the year comes to a close, the last big new albums hit retailers this week, with T.I.'s "Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head" leading the charge. Industry sources are forecasting the hip-hop star's latest album -- his first in almost exactly two years -- to sell between 150,000 to 170,000 by week's end on Sunday, Dec. 23.
That won't be enough for No. 1, though, as Taylor Swift's "Red" will likely hold on to the crown for a sixth non-consecutive week. It's too early to tell how well "Red" will sell this week, however. T.I. may not be No. 2 either, as Michael Buble's "Christmas" set looks like it will probably take the runner-up slot. We'll have a better idea how much "Red" and "Christmas" will sell by Friday, Dec. 21.
(Why do we have a projection for T.I. but not Swift or Buble? Label sources can more easily forecast a new album's debut week after its first day in stores -- usually by Wednesday. However, holdover titles -- ones that have been on sale for more than a week -- behave differently than new albums. So, sources can better project a holdover set's sales further on into the week -- usually by Thursday or Friday.)
With that said -- what else is set for a high debut on the Billboard 200? Likely the "12-12-12 The Concert for Sandy Relief" compilation benefit album, which may move 125,000 to 150,000. The digital-exclusive effort was culled from live performances during the Dec. 12 all-star concert held at New York's Madison Square Garden. Sources say the 24-song Columbia Records set will be bolstered by over 60,000 in pre-orders placed via the iTunes Store. A physical version of the album will arrive in stores on Jan. 22.
Currently, none of the individual songs on the album are available to purchase a la carte. They range from Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" to Paul McCartney's "Helter Skelter." Absent from the set are any tunes performed by the show's Kanye West - the only performer from the concert not represented on the album. The reason for the rapper's absence on the set was unclear at press time. Columbia told Billboard.com it was unable to comment on the "12-12-12" album track listing.
The new Billboard 200 chart's top 10 will be revealed on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 27. For the next two weeks, due to the Christmas and New Year's holidays, the weekly top 10 recap story that normally posts on Wednesday morning will arrive on Thursday instead. Additionally, the charts on both billboard.com and billboard.biz will refresh around 6 PM EST on Thursday on Dec. 27 and Jan. 3, instead of in the morning as usual.