It appears that Justin Bieber’s Purpose has taken the lead over One Direction’s Made in the A.M. in the showdown for No. 1 on next week’s Billboard 200 albums chart.
Bieber seems to be on course for his sixth No. 1 album on the chart, according to industry forecasters. Sources suggest his new Purpose set, released Nov. 13, could open atop the Dec. 5-dated Billboard 200 chart with over 525,000 in equivalent album units earned in the week ending Nov. 19.
Of that sum, perhaps 450,000 will consist of pure album sales. If Purpose sells as expected, it will earn Bieber his largest sales week yet, surpassing the 374,000 start of 2012’s Believe (according to Nielsen Music).
Aiming for a No. 2 start on the chart is One Direction’s fifth studio album, Made in the A.M., which could launch with over 475,000 units (of which 400,000 to 425,000 could be pure album sales).
Of course, with four days left in the tracking week, anything is still possible. (One Direction could always rally. Beyonce might drop an album out of the sky. And so on.)
Both Purpose and Made in the A.M. are performing much stronger than pre-release forecasts, which had both sets launching with around 300,000 in pure album sales.
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 Dec. 5-dated chart’s top 10 is scheduled to be revealed on Sunday, Nov. 22.
If both Purpose and Made in the A.M. start according to the current forecast, it would be the first time in nearly six years that two albums sold in excess of 400,000 in the same week. It last happened in the week ending Dec. 20, 2009, when Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream was No. 1 for its fourth week (with 661,000) and Alicia Keys’ debuted at No. 1 with The Element of Freedom (417,000).
Impressively, to find the last time there were two albums that debuted with more than 400,000 sold, we have to go way back to 2007. In the week ending Sept. 16, Kanye West’s Graduation bowed at No. 1 with 957,000 and 50 Cent’s Curtis started at No. 2 with 691,000.