Lana Del Rey, Jimin, Luke Combs: Who Will Land Next Week’s Biggest Album Debut?
A star-studded array of new releases challenge Morgan Wallen's One Thing at a Time for next week's No. 1 spot.
The Contenders is a midweek column that looks at artists aiming for the top of the Billboard charts and the strategies behind their efforts. This week (for the upcoming charts dated April 8), new albums from a wide variety of big names could make for the most debut-crowded top 10 on the Billboard 200 yet in 2023.
Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (Polydor/Interscope): Last year’s Blue Bannisters was Lana Del Rey’s first major-label album to miss the Billboard 200 top five, but she seems set to return there with the new Ocean Blvd. The album has received some of the strongest reviews of Del Rey’s career, while seven-minute advance single “A&W” is her first song to reach the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs top 10 since her Weeknd-featuring “Lust for Life” in 2017.
Also helping Ocean Blvd’s numbers: well over a dozen physical variants, including five different-colored options on both vinyl and cassette, and four CD deluxe box sets exclusive to her webstore. (Plus, a special shoutout on the year’s hottest pop tour never hurts.) All of that could create a tunnel from Ocean Blvd to the top of the charts, but it will have to contend with Morgan Wallen’s One Thing at a Time in its fourth week. That album is still earning over 200,000 equivalent album units a week, and Del Rey has yet to post a single-week number higher than 182,000 (for Ultraviolence in 2014).
Jimin, Face (BigHit/Geffen): Another major contender this week, and the latest BTS alum poised for a major Billboard 200 impact — following J-Hope’s No. 17-debuting Jack in the Box last July and RM’s No. 3-peaking Indigo in December — is Jimin, who should be set for a big debut for his debut album, Face. The set has already generated one Hot 100 hit in this week’s No. 30-debuting “Set Me Free Pt. 2,” and could score an even bigger one next week with the entrance of the best-selling “Like Crazy.” Though its six-track length may hurt its streaming totals, Face has the advantage of a simultaneous digital and physical release — where Jack in the Box and Indigo both debuted as digital-only releases — with five different collectible CD variants available (each containing a standard set of items plus randomized photo cards and postcards).
Luke Combs, Gettin’ Old (Columbia/River House): Coming just nine months after last year’s No. 2-peaking Growin’ Up, sibling set Gettin’ Old may return country superstar Luke Combs to the Billboard 200’s top five. Lead single “Love You Anyway” debuted in the Hot 100’s top 15 in February — with advance cuts “Growin’ Up and Gettin’ Old” and “Joe” also reaching the chart — and its studio version of Combs’ live-staple cover of Tracy Chapman’s late-‘80s alt-folk classic “Fast Car” should follow them onto the chart next week. The set is available in CD, cassette and record, with colored-vinyl exclusives for Amazon and Walmart.
In the Mix
Depeche Mode, Memento Mori (Columbia/Mute): Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Depeche Mode look to extend their streak of eight consecutive top 10 studio albums on the Billboard 200 with this month’s Memento Mori, their first album since the May death of founding member Andy Fletcher. The album, supported by the group’s first world tour in a half decade, was met with critical acclaim and spawned its first top 15 hit on the Alternative Airplay chart since 2009 with lead single “Ghosts Again.”
Fall Out Boy, So Much for Stardust (Fueled by Ramen/DCD2): Fall Out Boy’s first album since 2018’s Billboard 200-topping Mania features more of a return to the emo heroes’ guitar-driven sound, albeit with more of a disco influence in tracks like third single “Hold Me Like a Grudge.” Lead cut “Love From the Other Side” became the group’s first-ever top five hit on the Rock & Alternative Airplay chart when it reached No. 2 earlier this month.
Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon (Harvest/Capitol): One of the biggest albums in rock history, Pink Floyd’s 1973 prog rock opus Dark Side of the Moon spends its 976th frame on the Billboard 200 this week, ranking at No. 172. It should rank a lot higher next week following its 50th-anniversary reissue, with a CD and vinyl box set that includes a newly remastered version of the classic album, a 76-page music book, surround sound and Dolby Atmos mixes, and a standalone LP of the group’s 1974 performance of the album at Wembley Arena.