It happens every year around this time. No, not that food coma from too much turkey — the parade of megastar albums that drops the week of Thanksgiving.
While the past two weeks have already seen the release of a number of potential blockbusters, from Taylor Swift's instant-platinum Speak Now to new albums from Susan Boyle, Kid Rock, Rihanna, Josh Groban and Rascal Flatts, Monday's bumper crop could help pump some life into the holiday season.
After Kanye West decided to stake out the off-cycle Monday as the release date for his eagerly anticipated My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, his competitors fell in line to take advantage of the holiday-week sales rush, with Nicki Minaj, My Chemical Romance and Ke$ha pushing their release dates up one day as well.
"I think Kanye will do great," said Carl Mello, director of purchasing for the 28-store Newbury Comics chain, one of the few remaining non-big-box music retailers in the nation. "He did himself a lot of favors putting up so many tracks during the year and engaging with the audience."
Between the string of G.O.O.D. Friday releases and his headline-grabbing "Runaway" mini-movie, Mello said Kanye set the album up by whetting his audience's appetite for months on end. As for Nicki's Pink Friday, even though she spent the year building up cred with a series of features and her own hit "Your Love," Mello predicted she'd do "fine" but wasn't expecting her to put up Kanye numbers. "It's nice to have a female rapper who is credible and has a chance at being quite popular," he said.
The bigger challenge might come for My Chem, whose Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys has gotten good buzz thanks to the speedy single "Na Na Na," but they have been out of stores since 2006's The Black Parade, which divided some fans.
"There's almost nothing harder to sell than something that reacted well with 13- to 14-year-olds a few years ago, but who don't necessarily make the journey with the band over the years," he said, noting the dive in popularity of similar bands such as Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte.
And though first-week sales of Rihanna's Loud are not expected to be blockbuster, Mello also said he expects that album and Kid Rock's Born Free to be solid sellers through the end of the year, along with Kid Cudi's Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, as well as Swift and previously released discs by Eminem and Lil Wayne.
Billboard magazine Senior Chart Manager and analyst Keith Caulfield agrees that West will probably have the biggest sales week, but said Ne-Yo could also have a solid bow with Libra Scale after months of working singles to radio. While he thinks Nicki could have a good week, Caulfield was cautious about Ke$ha's Cannibal.
"She could also do well, but because she's so track-oriented, it's hard to say," he said. "The best comparison for Nicki would seem to be Missy Elliott at her height with Under Construction, which sold 259,000 in its first week, and that's when people bought a lot of records. It's hard to gauge how an artist who, up until this point, has been very track-oriented but has an established record for a long time before releasing a proper album will do."
He pointed to fellow Young Money rapper Drake, who built his career up for nearly a year with a popular mixtape and features before releasing a full-length debut. "She's very different. She's colorful and versatile, but it's hard to pinpoint how that will translate into sales," he said, noting that "Your Love" has sold a very respectable 700,000 downloads to date.
Also in the mix are greatest-hits releases from Jay-Z and Pink; Lloyd Banks' H.F.M.2; the reissue of Nine Inch Nails' debut, Pretty Hate Machine; a Jimi Hendrix box set that Mello said is doing very well at his stores; Bruce Springsteen's The Promise archival set; the "Burlesque" soundtrack; and next Friday, a Target exclusive acoustic set from Justin Bieber.
And the hits will keep coming through the holidays, with a Christmas-themed "Glee" soundtrack on November 30 — which will also bring the latest from the Black Eyed Peas, The Beginning — followed the next week by T.I.'s No Mercy. December 14 brings the last potential blockbuster of 2010, the first posthumous album of Michael Jackson material, Michael, as well as the major-label debut of "American Idol" season-nine runner-up Crystal Bowersox, Farmer's Daughter; R. Kelly's Love Letter; and Ciara's Basic Instinct. (All release dates subject to change.)
Which new release are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments!