One thing is nearly certain: we're going to have a new No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week -- and it will be Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" with probably 1 million sold in its first week.
Industry prognosticators suggest the set, the diva's third, will hit the 1 million threshold by week's end on May 29.
If "Born This Way" hits the magic 1 million mark, it will be the 17th album to sell 1 million copies in one week, and the first to do so since Taylor Swift's "Speak Now" debuted at No. 1 on the chart dated Nov. 13, 2010 with 1.05 million.
No stone was left unturned by the folks at Gaga's label and distribution company (Interscope and Universal Music Group, respectively) when it came to finding opportunities to promote the album and to sell it in unconventional ways and locations. "Born this Way" is stocked everywhere from Starbucks and CVS Pharmacies to Whole Foods and Walgreens.
The one unconventional promotion that Gaga's record company wasn't affiliated with was Amazon MP3's amazingly low 99-cent, one-day discount  on the set on May 23. Lady Gaga's label and management have stated that they were not alerted to or involved in Amazon's promotion. Sources indicate that the stunt may have brought in more than 300,000 downloads of the album alone. ( Amazon MP3's second round of discount pricing on the set, on May 26 , will obviously further drive sales of the set -- easily securing a 1 million first week for "Born.")
Considering it was only two weeks ago when industry folks were projecting that "Born this Way" was "only" going to sell around 500,000, having it approach 1 million (even with Amazon MP3's 99-cent stunt sales goosing the first week) is mighty impressive.
With all this talk about Gaga, you've got to feel a little bad for country superstar Brad Paisley, whose "This Is Country Music" album will likely debut in the runner-up slot next week with maybe 150,000 copies sold. Paisley has yet to earn a No. 1 album -- after six top 10's (two of which hit No. 2). Had his new album come a week earlier, perhaps he could have secured his first No. 1.
Other albums aiming for a top 10 arrival next week include "Glee, the Music: Season Two: Volume 6" (with perhaps an 80,000 start), the various artists compilation "Maybach Music Group Presents: Self Made, Vol. 1" (around 50,000) and the New Kids On the Block/Backstreet Boys collaboration/greatest hits album "NKOTBSB" with maybe 35,000.