For the final sales tracking week of 2012, it seems as if a familiar face will rule the Billboard 200 albums chart again: Taylor Swift.
According to label sources, the star's "Red" album is likely to remain at No. 1 for a seventh non-consecutive week on the tally. However, projecting how much the set will set by week's end on Sunday, Dec. 30, is a bit tricky. Sales are volatile this week for all albums and songs, thanks to shopping caused by the Christmas Day holiday on Tuesday, Dec. 25.
That said, "Red" could sell at least 225,000 this week -- with a larger number likely. The set's sales are being helped by Amazon MP3 sale-pricing the title for $1.99 on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24). Sources suggest that "Red's" Monday sales at Amazon MP3 may result in 23% to 30% of its entire sales this week. (The discounted sales will count toward its weekly total because "Red" has been out for more than four weeks; Billboard does not count sales of albums priced below $3.49 in their first four weeks of release.)
This past week, ending Dec. 23, "Red" sold 276,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The new Billboard 200 chart's top 10 will be revealed on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 3. Due to the New Year's holiday falling on SoundScan's normal processing day (Tuesday, Jan. 1), the weekly top 10 recap story that traditionally posts on Wednesday morning will arrive on Thursday instead. Charts on both billboard.com and billboard.biz will refresh around 6 PM EST on Thursday Jan. 3, instead of in the morning as usual.
If "Red" is No. 1 next week, it will mark the 24th week Swift has spent at the top of the Billboard 200 over the course of her career. Her "Fearless" album spent 11 weeks at No. 1, while 2010's "Speak Now" logged six weeks atop the list. Swift will tie Adele as the woman with the most weeks at No. 1 since May of 1991, when the chart started using SoundScan sales data. (All 24 of Adele's weeks at No. 1 came from one album: "21.")
As for the rest of next week's top 10, there will be a lot of familiar faces to be found, as no contending new albums arrived to market this week. Bruno Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox" and One Direction's "Take Me Home" are both aiming for the top five again, while the "Highlights" soundtrack to the film "Les Miserables" could jump straight into the top 10.
This past week, the "Les Miserables" soundtrack debuted at No. 33 on the Billboard 200 with 43,000 after less than three full days of sales. The musical film itself opened in U.S. theaters on Dec. 25, so buzz generated by the movie will drive consumers to purchase the album.