This year's Billboard albums charts have been shocker after shocker, with Daughtry, Lloyd and even potential "Where Ya Been?" candidate Musiq Soulchild claiming the crown in recent months. This week's slate of new releases is full of powerhouses, which might make next week's chart even tougher to predict.
Here are 10 top-tier candidates and why each one has a shot at making a dent on this week's chart.
Good Charlotte's Good Morning Revival: For their fourth album, the Madden brothers took their posse back to where it started by enlisting producer Don Gilmore, who worked on their self-titled debut in 2000. But unlike before, the band collaborated with another artist for the first time ever on one of their albums: Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows and Synyster Gates, who appear on the first single, "The River."
Advantage: The band's 2004 effort, The Chronicles of Life and Death, reached #3 on the chart and went platinum.
Jennifer Lopez's Como Ama Una Mujer: ¡Por fin! Fans of the pop singer have been waiting forever for a Spanish-language album, and she delivers with an assist from producer/hubby Marc Anthony. Estefano and Julio Reyes also sit behind the boards, trying to figure out just exactly how a woman loves. Songs include: "Me Haces Falta," "Qué Hiciste" and "Te Voy a Querer."
Advantage: Like Good Charlotte, the singer's most recent album — 2005's Rebirth — landed in the top three (#2, in fact) and sold more than a million copies.
Various artists' Now That's What I Call Music! 24: The hit series of hit collections encompasses 20 pipin'-hot singles this time around, including "Irreplaceable" (Beyoncé), "My Love" (Justin Timberlake), "Promise" (Ciara), "Fergalicious" (Fergie), Daughtry ("It's Not Over") and the All-American Rejects ("It Ends Tonight").
Advantage: This series is all about the numbers, and the numbers tell it all: last year's 23 was the 10th Now installment to hit #1 and was the second-fastest album to go double-platinum last year.
Young Buck's Buck the World: Could a guest list get much more seismic than this? For the rapper's second effort, Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent produce; Young Jeezy, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Snoop, T.I., 8Ball and MJG, Jazze Pha, Pimp C, Bun B and 50 guest. Talk about universal appeal.
Advantage: The G-Unit member has been unintentionally in the limelight after becoming tangentially involved in the 50 Cent/ Cam'ron feud, which could wind up helping sales. Buck's debut, Straight Outta Cashville, opened at #3 and has sold a million and a half copies.
Lil' Flip's I Need Mine: The freestyle king piles a staggering 35 tracks onto his new two-disc set. His guest lineup doesn't quite measure up to Buck's, but it's not one to brush off, either: Chamillionaire, Lyfe Jennings, Three 6 Mafia, Mannie Fresh, Nate Dogg and Bun B pay visits.
Advantage: This Houston duder moved more than 100,000 copies of his Leprechaun debut before even getting signed to a major — with this Warner Bros. release, he'll certainly eclipse that number.
Macy Gray's Big: Macy who? The singer may have slid down the ladder in recent years, but a bevy of her friends haven't lost faith in her: The Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am is delivering this LP through his Will.I.Am Music Group partnership with Geffen, and Justin Timberlake, Nas, Fergie, Natalie Cole and Will himself hopped onboard.
Advantage: Big numbers probably aren't on the horizon for the singer — her last studio LP, 2003's The Trouble With Being Myself, opened at a flimsy #44. Now that she's signed to Will's label, she might see some slightly stronger numbers this time around.
Tha Dogg Pound's Dogg Ch--: The group just issued a comeback LP in July, but they're back with more doggie treats this week. This set features the Game ("Anybody Killa"), Snoop (first single, "Vibe With a Pimp"), Too Short ("Can't Get Enuff") and more top West Coast talent.
Advantage: This is the Pound's first self-produced album since their 1995 debut, Dogg Food. That effort went double-platinum ... could this one too?
Prodigy's Return of the Mac: Not to be confused with the rock band of the same name, one-half of Mobb Deep steps up this week with a new effort. The Alchemist-produced release is littered with samples of '70s soul songs, and is being classified as a mixtape for that reason — even though 50 Cent was reportedly so enthusiastic about the set that he wanted to issue it as a proper release. The Circuit City edition has three extra slices: "My Priorities," "That's That" (featuring Havoc) and "Last Words" (featuring Kokane).
Advantage: People seem to buy CDs that involve this guy "50 Cent."
Redman's Red Gone Wild: Thee Album: It's one thing for an album to bump, but for it to be postponed for nearly two years? Leave that to Red, who'll probably blame his partying ways. This is yet another LP heavy with guest spots — incorrigible cohort Method Man, plus Snoop, Erick Sermon, Keith Murray, Nate Dogg and Biz Markie all pay 'em. Scott Storch, Timbaland and Rockwilder produce to boot.
Advantage: The "H.R. Pufnstuf"-esque album cover is one of the more colorful illustrations to grace a rap release in recent memory. Maybe it'll distract consumers from the zillion other rap releases this week.
Kaiser Chiefs' Yours Truly, Angry Mob: Make room for the rock! Two years ago, the new wavers' Employment debut opened in the top 100 — not bad for a Brit-pop band in the U.S. Songs include "Love's Not a Competition (But I'm Winning)," "Learnt My Lesson Well" and "Everything Is Average Nowadays."
Advantage: The beefy deluxe edition is hard to say no to: It features a bonus DVD featuring six songs performed in Berlin last year and a 10-minute documentary, 24-page booklet and comes in digipak form.
Song Title of the Week:
"When Vegans Attack" from Clutch's From Beale Street to Oblivion
TV on the Radio's Live at Amoeba: TV on the Radio not in the top 10, even though their Return to Cookie Mountain debuted at #41 and made it to virtually every best-of list last year? Well, that's because even hard-core fans might have a little trouble getting their hands on this limited-edition concert EP, which is only available at Amoeba Music stores. It features four Cookie cuts recorded at Amoeba's Hollywood location in September: "Blues From Down Here," "Wolf Like Me," "Province" and "Wash the Day." Hurry up — the CD is only available for 30 days but comes with a rare poster (and it only costs six bucks).
Various artists' Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire: With Musiq Soulchild all the rage all over again right now, his cover of EW&F's "Reasons" should give the tribute compendium an extra boost. The long-in-the-works salute — part of the Stax label's 50th anniversary festivities — also features Angie Stone ("Be Ever Wonderful"), Chaka Khan ("Shining Star") and more.
The Fall's Reformation Post-T.L.C.: After tireless frontman Mark E. Smith's guitarists and drummer bailed on him and keyboardist/wife Eleni Poulou mid-tour in the summer, he enlisted a new backing band to take over. After the stint, the new configuration then recorded this 14-track opus, which comes with enhanced video capturing concert clips, extended songs and more.
· Alabama - Songs of Inspiration II (RCA)
· Antelope - Reflector (Dischord)
· Che Arthur - Iron (Sickroom)
· The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound - Ekranoplan (Tee Pee)
· David Ball - Heartaches by the Number (Shanachie)
· The John Butler Trio - Grand National (Atlantic) [Buy Now]
· Todd Carey - Watching Waiting (High Wire)
· Clutch - From Beale Street to Oblivion (DRT)
· Daphne Loves Derby - Good Night, Witness Light (Outlook)
· The Fall - Reformation Post-T.L.C. (enhanced; Narnack)
· Filthy Thieving Bastards - I'm a Son of a Gun (digipak; BYO)
· Good Charlotte - Good Morning Revival (Epic) [Buy Now]
Read: "Good Charlotte Don Their Dance Shoes For Feel-Good Revival"
· Macy Gray - Big (Geffen) [Buy Now]
· Kate Havnevik - Melankton (Republic)
· Hot Rod Circuit - The Underground Is a Dying Breed (Immortal)
· Jack Ingram - This Is It (Big Machine)
· Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob (deluxe edition comes with DVD; Universal) [Buy Now]
· Drew Kennedy - Dollar Theater Movie (Sustain)
· Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future (Geffen)
· Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver - More Behind the Picture Than the Wall (Rounder)
· Lesbian - Power Hör (Holy Mountain)
· Lil' Flip - I Need Mine (two CDs; Warner Bros./ Asylum) [Buy Now]
Read: "Lil' Flip 'Back In The Zone' With New Label, LP, Reality Show"
· Jennifer Lopez - Como Ama Una Mujer (Epic) [Buy Now]
· Machine Head - The Blackening (Roadrunner) [Buy Now]
· Madina Lake - From Them, Through Us, To You (Roadrunner)
· Moses Mayfield - The Inside (Columbia)
· Tim McGraw - Let It Go (Curb) [Buy Now]
· Mika - Life in Cartoon Motion (Casablanca) [Buy Now]
· MIMS - Music Is My Savior (Capitol) [Buy Now]
· Grant-Lee Phillips - Strangelet (Zoë/Rounder)
· Prodigy - Return of the Mac (Koch) [Buy Now]
· Redman - Red Gone Wild: Thee Album (Def Jam) [Buy Now]
· David Russell - Art of the Guitar (Telarc)
· Peggy Seeger - Three Score and Ten (live; two CDs; Appleseed)
· Tha Dogg Pound - Dogg Ch-- (Koch) [Buy Now]
· Thes One - Lifestyle Marketing (two CDs; Wax Orchard)
· Turtle Island Quartet - A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane (Telarc)
· TV on the Radio - Live at Amoeba (limited-edition EP available at Amoeba Music stores and online only)
· Kim Waters - You Are My Lady (Shanachhe)
· Mary Weiss - Dangerous Game (Norton)
· Mare Winningham - Refuge Rock Sublime (digipak; Craig N' Co.)
· Young Buck - Buck the World (Interscope) [Buy Now]
Read: "Track By Track: Young Buck Says G-Unit Are Alive And Well On World"
· Various artists - Cielo: Seventh Heaven (two CDs; Kinkysweet)
· Various artists - Disney Mania 5 (Disney)
· Various artists - Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire (Stax)
· Various artists - Now That's What I Call Music! 24 (EMI/ Sony BMG/ Universal/ Zomba)
· Various artists - "Meet the Robinsons" soundtrack (Disney)
Notable Reissues and Archival Material:
· Alabama - 16 Biggest Hits (RCA)
· Bobby Bare - 16 Biggest Hits (RCA)
· James Brown - 1's (Polydor/UMe)
· The Cannonball Adderley Quartet - The Cannonball Adderley Quartet in San Francisco (Blue Note)
· Guy Clark - The South Coast of Texas (DBK Works)
· The Doors - The Doors, L.A. Woman, Morrison Hotel, The Soft Parade, Strange Days and Waiting for the Sun (Rhino)
· Kenny Dorham - Jazz Contrasts (Blue Note)
· Joe Henderson - Power to the People (Blue Note)
· Elton John - Rocket Man: Number Ones (limited edition comes with DVD; Island/UMe)
· Katrina & the Waves - Premium Gold Collection (Caroline)
· Patty Loveless - 16 Biggest Hits (RCA)
· Ronnie Milsap - 16 Biggest Hits (RCA)
· Thelonious Monk - Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington (Blue Note)
· Wes Montgomery - Full House (Blue Note)
· Stevie Nicks - Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks (also available with DVD; Reprise)
· Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Junk Culture (Caroline)
· Diana Ross & the Supremes - 1's (Polydor/UMe)
· Carlos Santana & Wayne Shorter - Live at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival (Image)
· Feargal Sharkey - Feargal Sharkey (Caroline)
· Bonnie Tyler - Heart Strings (Caroline)
· Ultravox - Vienna (Caroline)
· Warren Zevon - Envoy, Excitable Boy and Stand in the Fire (Rhino)
· Various artists - Putumayu Presents: Gypsy Groove (Putumayu)
· Various artists - "Pokémon X: 10 Years of Pokémon" soundtrack (Koch)
· Stanley Clarke - "Night School: An Evening of Stanley Clarke & Friends" (Heads Up)
· Engelbert Humperdinck - "Live in Concert" (Kultur)
· Cledus T. Judd - "The Essenshul Video Collection" (Razor & Tie)
· John Prine - "Live on Soundstage 1980" (Shout! Factory)
· Carlos Santana & Wayne Shorter - "Live at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival" (Image)
· Joan Sutherland - "The Reluctant Prima Donna" (Kultur)
· John Williams - "The Seville Concert" (Kultur)
· The Academy Is ... - Santi (Atlantic)
· Beyoncé - B-Day - Deluxe Edition (with bonus CD; Columbia)
· Hilary Duff - Dignity (Hollywood)
· Paul Wall - Get Money - Stay True (Atlantic)
· Shadows Fall - Threads of Life (Atlantic)
· Bright Eyes - Cassadaga (Saddle Creek)
· Hellyeah - Hellyeah (Epic)
· Various artists - Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters Colon the Soundtrack (William Street)
· Bones Thugs-N-Harmony - Strength and Loyalty (Full Surface/ Interscope)
· Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing (deluxe limited edition with DVD due same day; RCA)
· Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero (Nothing)