Fourth-quarter releases from U2, Eminem, Alan Jackson, Good Charlotte, Ludacris and Gwen Stefani are fueling excitement among retailers as the industry heads into its key selling season. Like the same

Fourth-quarter releases from U2, Eminem, Alan Jackson, Good Charlotte, Ludacris, Fabolous and Gwen Stefani are fueling excitement among retailers as the industry heads into its key selling season.

Like the same period last year -- which yielded new releases by Jay-Z, OutKast and Nappy Roots -- a jam-packed urban release schedule will likely make up the majority of holiday sales.

Led by the aforementioned Eminem, (whose album will arrive Nov. 16 on Slim Shady/Interscope), and Ludacris (coming in October from Def Jam South), other big urban titles include two from Nelly (Fo' Reel/Universal), as well as sets from P. Diddy (Bad Boy/Universal), Destiny's Child (Sony Urban), Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz (BME/ TVT) and Chingy (Capitol).

Sony Urban will also release new studio efforts from rappers Xzibit and Nas, while Island Def Jam will bow projects by Redman, Ja Rule, Musiq and Ashanti.

Capitol has multiple titles coming, including Slum Village, Dilated Peoples and I-20, as does Atlantic, with sets by Fat Joe, Trick Daddy and T.I.

Other strongly anticipated urban sets coming by year's end are releases from Talib Kweli and Mos Def (Geffen), Guerilla Black (Virgin), Babyface (Arista), and Mario (J).

On the rock side, along with the highly anticipated U2 album, No Doubt frontwoman Stefani's first solo turn, both on Interscope, will likely be big. Also, for the first time in almost 20 years, the original Duran Duran lineup is releasing an album, "Astronaut" (Epic), due Oct. 12. A new set is tentatively due Oct. 26 from Beck (Geffen).

Warner Bros. will bow anticipated releases by Green Day and R.E.M. Also on the horizon are Fountains Of Wayne (S-Curve), the Donnas (Atlantic), Cake (Columbia), Sum 41 (Island) and a mini-album from Modest Mouse (Epic).

Plus, sets are coming from pop singers Mariah Carey (Island Def Jam) and Vanessa Carlton (A&M/Interscope) and soul vocalist Joss Stone (S-Curve).

Greatest-hits sets are expected from Britney Spears (Jive) and Mandy Moore (Epic). Best-ofs from Macy Gray and Korn (both on Epic), Everclear (Capitol), Phil Collins (Atlantic), Def Leppard (IDJ) and Seal (Warner Bros.) will also be on shelves.

Though boxed sets are expected from Al Green and the Rat Pack (both from EMI Music), as well as Bon Jovi (Island/Mercury), the Grateful Dead and Ozzy Osbourne (Sony Legacy), retailers are buzzing about the limited-edition vinyl box from Metallica (Elektra/Rhino Vinyl) and Nirvana's three-CD/one-DVD set on Universal Music Enterprises.

Country veterans Shania Twain (Mercury), Toby Keith (DreamWorks Nashville) and George Strait (MCA) are releasing compilations for the holidays.

There will also be new studio albums from Alan Jackson (Arista), Rascal Flatts (Lyric Street), Keith Urban (Capitol) and LeAnn Rimes (Curb).

"American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard is taking his turn at gospel this season with a J Records release. New material from EMI CMG's Steven Curtis Chapman, Toby Mac and Smokie Norful; Sony Urban's BeBe Winans; Word's Point Of Grace; and Reunion's Michael W. Smith are also slated.

Universal Classics will release an album by opera soprano Renée Fleming as well as Andrea Bocelli's first turn at pop. Sony will release a new Yo Yo Ma collection.

Rereleases of their current albums with new material added will come from Usher, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys and Twista by end of the year.

Additional reporting by Perrie Briskin in Los Angeles.