The Billboard 200 will greet a new No. 1 next week in the form of Miley Cyrus' "Breakout" (Hollywood) or Sugarland's "Love on the Inside" (Mercury Nashville), which are neck and neck on Nielsen SoundScan's Building chart released today (July 23).
Unweighted sales of "Breakout" through the close of business yesterday stood at 110,000. The deluxe edition of Sugarland's "Love on the Inside" was nipping at Cyrus' heels with 108,000. The standard version of "Love" -- minus five bonus cuts found on the deluxe version -- doesn't drop until next Tuesday (July 29).
Billboard estimates the nine merchants who report to Nielsen SoundScan's Building chart -- Trans World Entertainment, Best Buy, Circuit City, iTunes, Starbucks, Borders, Target, Anderson Merchandisers and Handleman Co. -- comprise about 80% of all U.S. album sales.
Hollywood GM Abbey Konowitch anticipates the Cyrus album will have growth throughout the weekend "with our fingers tightly crossed," as Cyrus has a packed promotional schedule lined up.
The singer/actress hosted MTV's "TRL" today and will do the same again tomorrow. NBC's "Today" will sit down with the star tomorrow as well, before she takes the "Today" stage on Friday. On Saturday, Disney Channel will premiere her 3-D concert film "Best of Both Worlds" after a daylong "Hannah Montana" marathon.
Cyrus' last proper album, the half studio set, half soundtrack "Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus," started at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 last summer with 326,000. It's safe to suggest that "Breakout" will bow with as large a number -- if not much greater. It all depends on how the weekend shakes out for the multi-media superstar.
Meanwhile, Sugarland is poised to have its biggest sales week ever. Ben Kline, executive VP of sales, marketing and new media at Universal Music Group Nashville, is expecting the "Love" album to shift nearly 300,000 in its first week. That would easily surpass the duo's previous high, when sophomore set "Enjoy the Ride" began with 211,000 in late 2006.
Kline says, "In 2008, how many artists continue to have bigger first weeks? This is pretty spectacular. It's a credit to them and the music they made." Konowitch echoes that sentiment. "It's really exciting to see two albums at the top of the chart selling multiple hundreds of thousands of units with all of the talk of the shrinking market," he says.