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Michael Jackson, Black Keys Vie for No. 1

There's a race for No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, as both Michael Jackson's "Xscape" and the Black Keys' "Turn Blue" have their sights set on the top slot.

There’s a race for No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, as both Michael Jackson’s “Xscape” and the Black Keys’ “Turn Blue” have their sights set on the top slot. 

Industry sources suggest both albums — which were released on Tuesday, May 13 — could sell between 150,000 and 155,000 copies in the week ending Sunday, May 18. 

The Billboard 200’s new top 10 will be revealed on Wednesday, May 21.

Two days ago, on May 14, forecasters had pegged “Xscape” to bow with around 140,000, while “Turn Blue” was aiming for 150,000. Jackson’s album has seen its projected sales grow a bit in the past few days, while the Black Keys’ number has also grown — but by slightly less.

If the Black Keys start at No. 1, it will mark the rock duo’s first chart-topper. Their last studio release, 2011’s “El Camino”, debuted and peaked at No. 2 off a 206,000 start (according to Nielsen SoundScan) and is their best seller, with 1.4 million sold.

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As for Jackson, “Xscape” would mark the seventh No. 1 for the King of Pop, who died in 2009. The new set is his second posthumous album of previously unreleased material, following “Michael” in 2011. “Michael” debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 228,000 in the week ending Dec. 19. It has sold 541,000 to date.

“Xscape’s” first-week sales might be amplified by a special event celebrating Jackson during the Billboard Music Awards (May 18) — which occurs on the final day of the sales tracking week. There are no details on what the experience will include, but it has been described by Larry Klein, the show’s executive producer, as “one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.”

Aside from Jackson and the Black Keys, there are a number of other albums aiming for high debuts on next week’s chart.

Country band Rascal Flatts may nab its ninth top 10 with “Rewind”, Dolly Parton could score her highest charting solo album ever with “Blue Smoke,” and Tori Amos is primed to collect her eighth top 10 with “Unrepentant Geraldines”. 

“Rewind” may sell around 55,000 to 60,000, while “Blue Smoke” could sell something near 40,000. Amos’ album might do 18,000.

All of Rascal Flatts’ studio albums since 2002’s “Melt” have gone top 10, in addition to a greatest hits release in 2008. As for Amos, she hasn’t been in the top 10 since 2009’s “Abnormally Attracted to Sin,” which debuted and peaked at No. 9.

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Superstar country entertainer Parton, amazingly, has only visited the top 10 of the Billboard 200 once: with the collaborative set “Trio,” with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. It peaked at No. 6 on May 2, 1987, after earlier debuting at No. 38 on March 28, 1987.

In terms of Parton’s solo efforts, she’s gone as high as No. 11 on the Billboard 200 with “9 to 5 and Odd Jobs,” on March 21, 1981. That album of course featured her No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 single “9 to 5”, as well as the No. 41 hit “But You Know I Love You” and the No. 77-peaking “The House of the Rising Sun.”

Parton’s chart history on the Top Country Albums chart is more befitting of her living-legend status: She’s notched 40 top 10 albums, with six of them going to No. 1. On the Hot Country Songs chart, she holds the record for the most No. 1s among women, with 25.

On SoundScan’s Building chart (below), “Xscape” is No. 1, followed by “Turn Blue” at No. 2. The Building tally is a precursor to the final Billboard 200 ranking — reflecting the first four days (Monday through Thursday) of SoundScan’s tracking week as reported by six major merchants.

As for the rest of the top 10 on the Building Chart: “Now 50” is No. 3, followed by Rascal Flatts, the “Frozen” soundtrack and Chromeo’s new “White Women” at No. 6. (The latter may not finish the week in the top 10 of the final Billboard 200 chart.) Parton’s “Blue Smoke” is No. 7, with Hunter Hayes’ “Storyline” at No. 8 and Keith Urban’s “Fuse” at No. 9. (“Fuse” was reissued in a deluxe edition on May 13.)

Demi Lovato’s “Demi” rounds out the Building Chart’s top 10, at No. 10, thanks to sale pricing for the set. It has been temporarily discounted to $4.99 at all leading digital retailers (including iTunes, Amazon MP3 and Google Play) in celebration of the album’s first anniversary since its release on May 14, 2013.

Nielsen SoundScan Building Chart
Rank LW
BB 200
Artist Title
1 NEW Michael Jackson “Xscape”
2 NEW The Black Keys “Turn Blue”
3 1 Various Artists “Now 50”
4 NEW Rascal Flatts “Rewind”
5 2 Soundtrack “Frozen”
6 NEW Chromeo “White Women”
7 NEW Dolly Parton “Blue Smoke”
8 3 Hunter Hayes “Storyline”
9 51 Keith Urban “Fuse”
10 RE-ENTRY Demi Lovato “Demi”
The Building Chart reflects the first four days (Monday through Thursday) of SoundScan’s tracking week (which ends Sunday) as reported by six major merchants: iTunes, Trans World Entertainment, Best Buy, Starbucks, Target and Anderson Merchandisers. Billboard estimates that they make up about 85% of all U.S. album sales.