Kings of Leon
Dan Winters

It will be busy on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week, as a slew of big-name acts are heading for high debuts.

As previously reported on Wednesday, Sept. 25, Drake's new album "Nothing Was the Same" is heading for a very strong debut at No. 1. Industry sources forecast that the album will sell between 660,000 and 670,000 by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Sept. 29.

Next week's top 10 on the Billboard 200 will be revealed on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

If Drake sells as expected, he'll earn the second-largest sales week of the year for an album. Only Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience" sold more in a single frame, when it debuted at No. 1 with 968,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Drake's forecast of 660,000 to 675,000 is dialed back a bit from the 675,000-plus figure reported on Wednesday. As always, sales projections are moving targets, and Drake's is no exception.

The entire top four slots on the chart next week could be debuts, with Kings of Leon, Cher and Elton John eyeing the Nos. 2-4 slots, respectively.

Kings of Leon's "Mechanical Bull" may sell around 110,000 to 120,000 copies and give the band its third consecutive top five album. It follows 2010's "Come Around Sundown" (No. 2 debut and peak with 184,000) and 2008's "Only By the Night" (No. 5 debut with 74,000; later peaking at No. 4).

The band played ABC's "Good Morning America" on Sept. 24, the day of the album's release. They then performed on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" on Sept. 25 and CBS' "The Late Show With David Letterman" on Sept. 26.

Cher's return to the music scene after a long absence is paying off, as her new effort, "Closer to the Truth," is aiming for a No. 3 debut with around 65,000. If it starts at No. 3, it will mark not only her highest debut ever, but her highest-charting album as a solo artist. During release week, she played NBC's "Today" show (Sept. 23) and "The Late Show With David Letterman" (Sept. 24). On the latter program, she was the only guest for the evening and also performed the album's new single, "I Hope You Find It."

Next up is Elton John's "The Diving Board," which is on course to log John his 18th top 10 album. The set -- his Capitol Records debut -- could bow at No. 4 with perhaps 45,000. In support of the album, John played the iHeartRadio Festival on Sept. 20 and the Emmy Awards on Sept. 22. He then was interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air" program on Sept. 23 and played both ABC's "Good Morning America" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on Sept. 25.

One more album looks like it could debut in the top 10: Dream Theater's new self-titled set. It may arrive around No. 7 with perhaps 30,000.

On SoundScan's Building chart (below), Drake, Kings of Leon, Cher and John are Nos. 1-4, respectively. The Building tally is a precursor to the final Billboard 200 ranking -- reflecting the first four days (Monday through Thursday) of SoundScan's tracking week as reported by six major merchants.

As for the rest of the top 10: Jack Johnson's current Billboard 200 No. 1, "From Here to Now to You" is at No. 5 while Krewella's debut album "Get Wet" is No. 6. Krewella's album is not expected to finish within the top 10 next week. Its current placing on the Building Chart is based seemingly largely from strong first-day sales and digital pre-orders.

Dream Theater is at No. 7, followed by Luke Bryan's "Crash My Party" at No. 8 and Justin Moore's "Off the Beaten Path" at No. 9. Metallica's new live album/soundtrack to its film "Metallica: Through the Never" is No. 10.

 

Nielsen SoundScan Building Chart
Rank LW
BB 200
Artist Title
1 NEW Drake "Nothing Was the Same"
2 NEW Kings of Leon "Mechanical Bull"
3 NEW Cher "Closer to the Truth"
4 NEW Elton John "The Diving Board"
5 1 Jack Johnson "From Here to Now to You"
6 NEW Krewella "Get Wet"
7 NEW Dream Theater "Dream Theater"
8 6 Luke Bryan "Crash My Party"
9 2 Justin Moore "Off the Beaten Path"
10 NEW Metallica (Soundtrack) "Metallica: Through the Never"
The Building Chart reflects the first four days (Monday through Thursday) of SoundScan's tracking week (which ends Sunday) as reported by six major merchants: iTunes, Trans World Entertainment, Best Buy, Starbucks, Target and Anderson Merchandisers. Billboard estimates that they make up about 85% of all U.S. album sales.