It looks like we've got an old-fashioned diva battle for No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart next week.
Up until this morning, it seemed like Rihanna was on course for her 10th No. 1 with "S&M," powered by strong sales and airplay of the track's "Rih-mix" featuring Britney Spears. Industry prognosticators are forecasting the song may sell nearly 300,000 downloads by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, April 17, up from the 141,000 the track scanned in its last pre-remix week.
Rihanna was seemingly poised to topple Katy Perry's "E.T" (featuring Kanye West), which has spent the past three weeks in the pole position on the tally. Perry's track will likely move between 260,000 and 270,000 downloads.
But now, Gaga has found herself in the fight for No. 1. While "Judas" was originally slated to debut worldwide next week, this morning's leak prompted Interscope Records, Gaga's label, to rush release the single to digital services.
Billboard projects that "Judas" would have to sell north of 350,000 -- close to 400,000 -- with less than two and-a-half days of sales in the week, in order to possibly debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Also playing a role in its initial Hot 100 ranking will be the radio audience impressions "Judas" will garner through the end of the airplay tracking period which runs through Tuesday (April 19). A fast first week start at radio, similar to "Born This Way" (78.6 million), would certainly help Gaga's No. 1 cause.
It's certainly possible that "Judas" could sell that much, based on the how well Gaga's last release, "Born This Way," sold in its first three days of release (after a Friday, Feb. 11 iTunes debut). It bowed with 447,000, enabling its No. 1 debut on the Hot 100, marking her third chart-topper and the 1,000th No. 1 in the chart's history. However, "Judas" is hobbled, to a degree, in that it was posted to iTunes later in the day than "Born This Way" was. The latter hit the retailer in the early morning, while "Judas" hit the store by late morning Pacific Standard Time.