While many may doubt Michael Jackson's status as the King of Pop, the human enigma is poised to rule the pop charts for one week, at least as Invincible, his first album of all-new material in almost a decade, will debut atop next week's Billboard albums chart.
On the heels of a wide-reaching publicity campaign that included the recording of a star-studded benefit single (see " 'NSYNC Join Jackson's Charity Single; Mariah, Celine Sing In Spanish"), one concert for charity (see " 'NSYNC, Michael Jackson, P. Diddy, Mariah Stand United At D.C. Concert") and two others for himself (see "Michael Jackson Smooth At Tribute, But Wait Was Criminal"), Jackson's long-awaited studio follow-up to 1992's Dangerous sold more than 366,000 copies in its first week in stores, according to SoundScan figures released Wednesday (November 7).
That Jackson will land at the top of the heap isn't nearly as surprising as Enrique Iglesias' Escape, which will come in at #2, selling nearly 100,000 fewer copies than the Jackson comeback. The LP marks the highest debut by the Latin crossover artist, and much of its success can be attributed to the single "Hero" and its accompanying heart-wrenching video, which features actress Jennifer Love Hewitt.
The Backstreet Boys' retrospective The Hits Chapter One is next week's third-highest debut, landing at #4, with more than 197,000 copies sold.
The top 10 will be rounded out by DMX's The Great Depression, which will drop two spots from last week's top position; Enya's A Day Without Rain, also set to drop two places, to #5; Nickelback's Silver Side Up, which will move up a notch to #6; the patriotic God Bless America compilation, to slip three positions to #7; former #1-ranked Pain Is Love from Ja Rule, to move three spots to #8; and Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory, which will take one step closer to the edge (of the top 10) as it slips from #8 to #9. The greatest slide comes courtesy of Incubus' fifth album, Morning View, which will dive from last week's #2 position to #10.
The emergence of so many debuts is a sure sign that the holiday shopping season is near, with half of the albums in the 11-20 bracket consisting of first-timers. Lenny Kravitz's Lenny, the retro-rocker's sixth LP, will perch at #12; Jermaine Dupri's Instructions, which includes "Welcome to Atlanta" featuring Ludacris as its first single, will debut at #15; and fellow Dirty South rappers Three 6 Mafia will occupy the #19 slot with Choices, the collective's follow-up to last year's When the Smoke Clears.
The September 11/AIDS benefit album, What's Going On, consisting of nine remixes of the Marvin Gaye classic of the same name, with contributions from Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, Destiny's Child, Fred Durst and P. Diddy, among many others, will premiere on next week's chart at #18.
As further evidence that the gift-giving season is upon us, three holiday-themed albums will make their debuts, though the order in which they'll appear is a bit unexpected. Destiny's Child's 8 Days of Christmas will bring up the rear of the holiday pack at #59 with less than 23,000 copies sold. (Perhaps fans are waiting for the trio to write songs for the other four days of Christmas?) Ultimate diva Barbra Streisand's Christmas Memories will secure the #32 spot, while the new age pioneer known as Mannheim Steamroller, no stranger to promoting holiday cheer on record, will see his seventh Christmas album in 26 years, Christmas Extraordinaire, land at #17 with more than 66,000 copies sold.
Other notable debuts include Erick Sermon's Music at #33, the John Williams-composed score to "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" at #52 and Phish's Vol. 6 - Live Phish, recorded November 27, 1998 in Worcester, Massachusetts, at #105.