This week officially kicks off the busy holiday shopping season -- and with new albums from Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Lady Gaga, Nickelback and Michael Jackson all coming out on Monday, Nov. 21, there will be no shortage of superstars debuting on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week.
All eyes are on Rihanna, as the pop diva could notch her first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart this week with her just-released "Talk That Talk," which dropped Nov. 21.
But, the entertainer will have to fend off a bevy of superstars in her hunt for the No. 1 slot.
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Also released Nov. 21, we have Nickelback's "Here and Now," Michael Jackson's "Immortal," Mary J. Blige's "My Life II: The Journey Continues, Act I" and Taylor Swift's "Speak Now World Tour Live" among many other new albums.
And lest we forget Drake's "Take Care," which could sustain momentum in its second week on the chart, putting up a fight for the pole position. Not to mention Michael Buble's still-going-strong "Christmas" album.
"Talk" is Rihanna's sixth studio set and seems certain to be her sixth top 10 effort as well. Despite her staggering success with singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (11 No. 1s and counting) she's never gone higher than No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album tally (with 2007's "Good Girl Gone Bad").
Further, Rihanna's best sales week for an album came with 2010's "Loud," which shifted 207,000 in its premiere frame at No. 3. Her new album will have to sell more than than to ensure a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200.
Can she do it? Anything is possible. After all, Rihanna has had a great 2011 leading up to the release of "Talk," which could give her an advantage on the albums chart. Her last set, "Loud," spawned three No. 1 Hot 100 singles -- "Only Girl (In the World)," "What's My Name" and "S&M" -- and "Talk's" first single, "We Found Love," has already hit No. 1.
But, could Nickelback be the act to block Rihanna from No. 1 on the Billboard 200?
The rock band's seventh studio album, "Here and Now," seems a likely candidate for the chart's top debut. They've had three previous efforts start in the top two, including one No. 1: 2005's "All the Right Reasons." Their last album, 2008's "Dark Horse," bowed at No. 2 with 326,000. Its big first week was aided by its hit lead single, "Gotta Be Somebody," which reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Wild cards in the mix include Jackson's "Immortal" -- the companion piece to Cirque du Soleil's touring production about the entertainer -- and Blige's "My Life II." "Immortal" is a quasi-greatest hits album, in the style of the Beatles' Cirque-presented "Love," where the King of Pop's biggest singles are mashed-up into medleys and such.
Jackson's last release, the posthumous studio album "Michael," sold 228,000 in its first week (No. 3) last December, while the Beatles' "Love" shifted 272,000 when it started at No. 4 in 2006.
Since 1997, every one of Mary J. Blige's studio albums have debuted at either Nos. 1 or 2 on the Billboard 200. Can "My Life II" continue the streak? Her last set, 2009's "Stronger With Each Tear," landed at No. 2 with 330,000 in its first week, following its release on Dec. 22.
Lastly, but certainly not least, we have Taylor Swift's "Speak Now World Tour Live" CD/DVD package, which could profit from a busy Thanksgiving shopping week and land Billboard's Woman of the Year another top five album.