June 18, 2024

The Contenders is a midweek column that appears at artists aiming for the highest of the Billboard charts, and the methods behind their efforts. This week (for the upcoming Billboard 200 dated Dec. 2), Dolly Parton’s rock-themed new set is within the combine for the No. 1 spot, however faces competitors from current Drake and Taylor Swift blockbusters.  

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Dolly Parton, Rockstar (Butterfly/Massive Machine): When Dolly Parton was nominated for (and later inducted into) the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame – regardless of a profession principally spent in nation music and different rootsier genres – she was impressed to retroactively make good on her rock icon standing by recording her first-ever full-length rock set. That album materialized on Friday with Rockstar, a 30-track affair that options the beloved singer-songwriter totally plugging into the style, with a mixture of covers and originals, and assist from such legendary friends as Sting, Steven Tyler, Debbie Harry, Rob Halford, Elton John and naturally goddaughter and frequent collaborator Miley Cyrus. 

Whereas Rockstar might not be notably huge on streaming – although having 30 complete tracks to stream will definitely assist with these totals – it’s anticipated to promote very nicely. It’s in fact helped by the months of buzz generated by Parton’s Rock Corridor embrace and her subsequent style pivot, however much more so by the album’s huge availability: It’s being bought in additional than 10 vinyl variants, together with unique editions for Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Goal, indie shops and (appropriately) the Rock Corridor’s webstore, and is even being bought at less-traditional retailers like Cracker Barrel, Greenback Common and HSN. (She may additionally get a late-week increase in visibility this Thursday, when she performs at halftime of the NFL’s Thanksgiving showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Commanders, although that increase will almost certainly be restricted to digital album gross sales and streaming providers, attributable to most brick-and-mortar shops being closed on the vacation.)  )  

If all this provides as much as sufficient gross sales for Rockstar to assert the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200, it might make for a benchmark second within the nation legend’s profession: Regardless of visiting the chart 49 occasions – relationship again to her first look in 1969 – Parton has but to succeed in its apex, having solely reached the highest 10 twice. (She got here closest in 1987, with the Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt team-up set Trio, and with 2014’s Blue Smoke, each of which reached No. 6.)  

Drake, For All of the Canine (OVO/Republic): Drake’s newest already topped the Billboard 200 upon its October debut, and it’s hung across the chart’s high 5 within the 5 weeks since. Subsequent week, For All of the Canine ought to get one other increase from the added consideration and consumption ensuing from the discharge of its new Scary Hours version, which provides six additional cuts to the already-24-track set, together with the J. Cole-featuring “Evil Methods.” As traditional with Drake, the bonus songs are performing excellently on streaming, so Parton ought to watch out for Canine doubtlessly securing an equal album unit complete within the six digits, presenting an actual problem to her securing her first-ever No. 1 on the Billboard 200.  

Taylor Swift, 1989 (Taylor’s Model) (Republic): Drake himself acknowledged Taylor Swift’s chart supremacy on his Scary Hours reduce “Purple Button,” calling her the “just one [who] may make me drop the album just a bit later.” Swift’s newest (and largest but) blockbuster re-recording spent its first two weeks atop the Billboard 200, earlier than falling to No. 2 behind Stray Children’ Rock-Star on final week’s chart (dated Nov. 25). That sales-driven chart-topper will probably fall out of the combo for the highest spot in its second week — however Swift’s ought to hold round, because the set continues to promote nicely, and several other of her new Taylor’s Variations stay on the day by day U.S. charts on the largest DSPs.  

IN THE MIX 

ENHYPEN, Orange Blood (Befit Lab/YG): South Korean pop group ENHYPEN has inched nearer to the highest of the Billboard 200 with every of their final three EPs, securing their highest place on the chart with Might’s No. 4-debuting Darkish Blood. They’ll have a shot to one-up that end with final Friday’s six-track Orange Blood, which ought to publish robust gross sales – helped by 12 collectible CD variants with branded merch inside, and exclusives for Barnes & Noble, Goal and Walmart, in addition to a webstore-exclusive digital version with seven voice memos from the group members. 

2 Chainz & Lil Wayne, Welcome 2 Collegrove (Def Jam/Gamebread): With six No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 between them, rap greats 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne crew up for a second collaborative album with this month’s Welcome 2 Collegrove, follow-up to 2016’s No. 4-peaking Collegrove. The 21-track effort additionally options appearances from large names like Rick Ross, 21 Savage and Usher, and a signed CD of the set is offered by means of the duo’s official webstore.  

Andre 3000, New Blue Solar (Epic/Sony): One of many late yr’s most-discussed units has been hip-hop legend Andre 3000’s ambient, rap-less set New Blue Solar, introduced only a couple days earlier than its launch final Friday. Although as half of OutKast, Andre reached the highest two of the Billboard 200 5 occasions, New Blue Solar just isn’t anticipated to stream sufficient to essentially make it a contender for the highest spot (and isn’t but accessible for bodily buy) — however it’ll virtually actually be the highest-ranking album of woodwind instrumentals on subsequent week’s chart.  

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