The No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week is seemingly up for grabs, as three albums are possibly vying for the penthouse.
Michael Jackson's new posthumous "Michael" set may move around 200,000 to 225,000 by week's end on Dec. 19, according to industry sources. But, Susan Boyle's current No. 1, "The Gift," could also sell around as many copies (if not more), as could Taylor Swift's former chart-topper "Speak Now."
Jackson's last release, the "This Is It" compilation soundtrack, started at No. 1 a little over a year ago with 373,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. However, it's difficult to compare the sales fortunes of "Michael" to "This Is It" because they are such different projects. The former is a much-discussed assemblage of new recordings coming nearly a year-and-a-half after his death. On the flip side, "This Is It" was essentially a greatest hits collection, released in conjunction with the popular concert documentary film.
Next week's second-biggest debut will probably come from R. Kelly's "Love Letter," which is aiming for a start around 160,000. That should be enough to secure the R&B icon his 13th top 10 album. A year ago, he arrived at No. 4 with "Untitled," shifting 114,000.
Diddy Dirty Money's "Last Train to Paris" might roll into the top 15 with possibly 60,000 to 70,000. Diddy last took a bow on the list in 2006 when his "Press Play" entered at No. 1 with 170,000.
Other new albums on tap for a significant debut next week include 2010 "American Idol" runner-up Crystal Bowersox's "Farmer's Daughter" (45,000 to 50,000), Tank's "Now Or Never" (perhaps 40,000 to 45,000) and Ciara's "Basic Instinct" (30,000 to 40,000). For you "Idol"-watchers, Bowersox's first-week will likely exceed that of Lee DeWyze, the fellow she lost to. His "Live It Up" debut started with 39,000 at No. 19 a few weeks ago. (DeWyze's set earned the smallest start for an "Idol" champ's first post-show album.)