Next week's No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 seems secure, as industry forecasters say Jack White's "Lazaretto" should bow atop the list without competition. But, look to the following week's list, and the tally should be flush with major sales -- and major stars.
On June 17, we'll see the retail arrivals of three albums that are all tentatively forecast by industry sources to sell over 100,000 in their first week: Lana Del Rey's "Ultraviolence," Sam Smith's "In the Lonely Hour" and Linkin Park's "The Hunting Party."
If sales projections hold, that week will be the first this year to see three albums each sell in excess of 100,000 copies. It last happened in the holiday frame ending Dec. 29, 2013. (The last time it occurred when sales weren't goosed by the Christmas shopping season was the week ending Oct. 6, 2013.)
Lana Del Rey's "Ultraviolence" leads the debut pack, with industry sources suggesting it could sell over 175,000 copies in the week ending June 22. It's Del Rey's second full-length album for Polydor/Interscope Records and is aiming to be her first chart-topper.
Del Rey's debut, "Born To Die," bowed and peaked at No. 2 with 77,000 sold in the week ending Feb. 5, 2012, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It surpassed 1 million in total U.S. sales in March, and its cumulative sum stands at 1.06 million.
Smith might move over 150,000 with his debut album -- though forecasters caution that figure could go higher. Linkin Park's early estimate stands at 100,000 to 125,000.
You may wonder: How can industry sources forecast first-week sales for an album before it has come out? Sales projections are based on a number of indicators. They include orders from physical retailers, pre-orders on digital services like iTunes, first-week performance of comparable albums, media exposure, radio and YouTube trends for the album's singles, and so on. Depending on how far out we are from an album's release, a forecast can be wildly different from the final outcome. In general, you can best guess an album's debut sales week once it's actually on sale.
Smith is currently blowing up the Billboard Hot 100 with his album's single "Stay With Me," which hit the top 10 for the first time on the chart dated June 21 (vaulting 19-10). The cut has sold 697,000 downloads so far, and moved 167,000 in the week ending June 8 (up a big 62 percent).
Veteran rockers Linkin Park have previously claimed five No. 1 albums -- including their last four consecutive studio releases. (They also notched a No. 1 with their "Collision Course" mash-ups album with Jay Z.) Linkin Park's last studio set, 2012's "Living Things," debuted at No. 1 with 223,000.
The band's current single, "Until It's Gone," is the act's 26th hit on the Alternative Songs chart, as it rises 35-29 in its second week. The group has logged 11 No. 1s on the chart -- the second-most among all acts (behind only Red Hot Chili Peppers' 12).
Also among the significant arrivals on June 17: deadmau5's "while(1<2)," Willie Nelson's "Band of Brothers," Jennifer Lopez's "A.K.A." and Tiesto's "A Town Called Paradise."
deadmau5's album is hitting digital retailers first, on June 17, and will see a physical release on June 24. His last album, 2012's "Album Title Goes Here," sold 58,000 in its first week (with 41,000 of that downloads). Sources suggest "while(1<2)" might bow with 40,000.
Lopez's latest might sell 30,000, while Tiesto is aiming for around 15,000. Lopez's last studio effort, 2011's "Love?," debuted and peaked at No. 5 off an 83,000 start. Tiesto's last artist album (as opposed to a DJ-mixed compilation) was 2009's "Kaleidoscope." It debuted and peaked at No. 59 with 11,000 first-week sales.
Nelson is a wild card in the bunch, as his last album, the 2013 duets set "To All the Girls," had a larger-than-usual debut thanks to a promotional campaign with QVC. The all-star collaborations album (which boasted Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and more) bowed at No. 9 with 43,000 sold in its first week.
Nelson has partnered with the shopping network again, so "Band of Brothers" could see a boffo debut as well. However, "Band of Brothers" is not a collaborations set, and lacks A-list guests, so that could impact sales.