One Direction's 'Midnight Memories' Set for Big No. 1 Debut

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Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan of One Direction perform onstage during the 2013 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, CA

One Direction's new album "Midnight Memories" is easily heading for No. 1 on next week's Billboard 200 chart with a robust sales start. This week's top album, projected to be an encore by Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP 2," will be made official on tomorrow morning.

One Direction Makes Some Memories on the Cover of Billboard Magazine

Industry sources forecast the 1D's album to sell 500,000 copies by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Dec. 1. The album -- which was released on Monday, Nov. 25 -- has a possibility of reaching the 525,000 to 550,000 range. The number is a bit hard to pin down, thanks to the marketplace being thrown for a loop by the Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday-related promotions and holiday shopping festivities.

That said, a start north of 500,000 for Midnight Memories would likely give the group its third No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, following its first two chart-topping albums: "Up All Night" and "Take Me Home." 

Both of those sets were released in 2012, and debuted at No. 1. The former sold 176,000 in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while the latter opened with 540,000.

The new Billboard 200 chart's top 10 will be revealed on the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Amazingly, if One Direction debuts at No. 1, they'll become the first group since the Monkees in 1967 to reach No. 1 with their first three albums.

It's a fitting chart feat, since both acts were born on TV. One Direction was formed on the 2010 edition of the U.K. TV talent show "The X Factor," and saw their debut album bow in their home country the following year. 

As for the Monkees, the quartet (Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork) was recruited explicitly to star in a TV show. That show, "The Monkees," premiered on Sept. 12, 1966 on ABC. The group's self-titled debut album was released shortly thereafter, and climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in its sixth week on the chart. The act followed up the No. 1 success with three more consecutive No. 1s in 1967: "More of the Monkees," "Headquarters" and "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd."

If "Midnight Memories" sells 500,000, it will also give One Direction their second sales week greater than a half-million (following "Take Me Home's" debut). Since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991, only two other pop groups have logged multiple half-million sales weeks: 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys.

'N Sync did it seven times with three different albums, while Backstreet Boys did it nine times with two albums. Other groups and bands have earned numerous 500,000-plus frames, but they were all R&B, rap, country or rock acts. 

A fair chunk of One Direction's debut is fueled by pre-orders via the iTunes Store. Sources suggest that nearly 200,000 pre-orders were registered before the album went on sale. That doesn't necessarily mean that all of the pre-orders will translate into actual, completed sales, but one can imagine a good deal of them will.