Plus: Hozier, 2 Chainz, Solange & Lil Skies set for top 10 debuts.
Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next album may bounce back to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart next week, according to industry forecasters. However, there is at least one album that could spoil Grande’s chart-topping party: Hozier’s new Wasteland, Baby! is flirting with the possibility of opening at No. 1.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The top 10 of the March 16-dated Billboard 200 chart (where Thank U could return to No. 1) is scheduled to be revealed on Billboard’s websites on Sunday, March 10.
Those in the know suggest Thank U may return to the top slot with 90,000 to 95,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending March 7. If Thank U jumps back to No. 1, it will tally its third nonconsecutive week atop the list. The album spent its first two weeks at No. 1 and then fell to No. 2 on the chart dated March 9 -- where Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born soundtrack surged back to the top in the wake of the Academy Awards. On next week’s chart, expect A Star Is Born to tally around 70,000 units (down from the 129,000 units it earned in the week ending Feb. 28, according to Nielsen Music).
Prognosticators expect that Wasteland could earn perhaps 85,000 to 90,000 equivalent album units for the week -- so it's not terribly far off from Thank U's forecast. A fair amount of that sum will be driven by sales generated from a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer with Hozier’s upcoming U.S. tour. First-week units for Wasteland will also be enhanced by a newly released deluxe edition of the album. The new version of the set dropped Wednesday (March 6) via digital retailers and streaming services and includes two bonus tracks.
Meanwhile, 2 Chainz’s Rap or Go to the League may launch with around 60,000 to 65,000 units, so say forecasters. But we’ve seen late-in-the-week sales surges from hip-hop albums in the recent past, thanks to creative merchandise/album bundle offers, so 2 Chainz's first-week units could be larger than anticipated. (The rapper has a sizable range of merchandise/album bundles available.)
2 Chainz’s last studio set, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the chart dated July 8, 2017, bowing with 106,000 units earned in its first week, according to Nielsen Music.
Plus, Solange’s new album When I Get Home is on track for a top 10 debut, and could earn over 55,000 units in the frame ending March 7. Notably, When doesn’t have any merchandise/album bundles in play (as of March 6 at 5 p.m. PT), nor does it have a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer enhancing first-week sales.
Solange’s last album, A Seat at the Table, opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart dated Oct. 22, 2016, with 72,000 units earned in its first week, according to Nielsen Music.
The fourth and likely final new entry in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 next week could come from Lil Skies’ Shelby. The hip-hop artist’s album may begin with around 55,000 units. His last release, Life of a Dark Rose, peaked at No. 10 on the Jan. 27, 2018-dated list.