Editor's note: MTV News was initially told that Guns N' Roses' label, Geffen Records, planned to include eight days' worth of sales for Chinese Democracy in their first-week sales report. The label has since amended its statement, and we have revised our story accordingly.
It's shaping up to be an epic battle between two of music's biggest heavyweights, with Kanye West — the Louis Vuitton Don and the man we crowned the Hottest MC in the Game — standing in one corner, wearing gold trunks and white Shutter Shades, ready to drop 808s & Heartbreak. And in the other: Axl Rose — sporting black trunks, a Los Angeles Raiders jersey, red cornrows and a little album called Chinese Democracy.
Who will end up walking away with the championship belt? At this point, it could go either way.
Fans are excited, critics and industry watchers look on with great anticipation, and even oddsmakers have jumped into the fray, casting Guns N' Roses as the favorite. No matter how you slice it, next week's chase for a #1 debut will be a close one.
After years of false starts and broken promises, Geffen Records will finally issue Guns N' Roses' eagerly awaited album this coming Sunday, a day before West's latest hits stores. A spokesperson for Geffen told MTV News that first-day sales figures for Chinese Democracy will not be reported to Nielsen SoundScan until November 30, the same day West's label will report his week-one sales.
Typically, albums are released in the U.S. on Tuesdays, and SoundScan tracks weekly sales data from Monday through Sunday, meaning that most albums' debut spots on the Billboard chart are based on six solid sales days. At first, most assumed day-one sales of Chinese Democracy — which took Rose more than 16 years to complete — would be reported next week and released the morning of November 26. But Best Buy's sales week runs from Sunday to Saturday, so GN'R's first-day sales figures won't be released until the following week. The numbers will be reflected in the chart standings that will be announced December 3.
West still stands a decent chance at netting a third consecutive #1 debut, since Chinese Democracy will be available exclusively at Best Buy's Web site and stores, whereas 808s will be everywhere.
MTV News recently reached out to U.K. betting company Ladbrokes and online-gaming purveyors Bodog Entertainment to see which album they favor for a #1 opening. Despite West's immense popularity, the numerous leaks of Chinese Democracy over the years and GN'R's Best Buy deal, oddsmakers from both companies said Guns' LP has the best chance of scoring a chart-topping debut.
Bodoglife.com Sportsbook manager Richard Gardner put the odds at -130 in favor of Guns — which is basically the same thing as saying there's a 56 percent chance that Axl will outsell West. Meanwhile, he put the odds at -110 for a Kanye West win, or a 52 percent chance that his album will enter the chart at the peak position.
"We would quote 1/3 on Guns N' Roses, and 5/2 on Kanye West," said Nick Weinberg, head of Ladbrokes' novelty betting division. "So we make Guns N' Roses the favorite to top the charts in the week immediately after the release, due to the massive sense of anticipation surrounding the album. A lot of people have been waiting a long time for it."
[This story was originally published on 11.20.08 at 8 a.m. ET.]