Will it be
That was the question on everybody's minds Sunday night outside Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre, just before the start of the 36th annual American Music Awards. With two of the year's biggest releases dropping within the past 48 hours — GN'R's more-than-16-years-in-the-making Chinese Democracy and Mr. West's 808s & Heartbreak — the battle for Billboard's coveted peak position is on.
Music-industry insiders are paying close attention, because no one knows for sure who will end up opening at #1 when sales figures are released December 3. Could Rose's long-awaited opus outsell the latest album from one of hip-hop's biggest MCs? We surveyed several of the performers, winners and presenters during Sunday's AMAs to find out who they're backing in next week's Billboard showdown. Not surprisingly, most of those who spoke with us said they think it will be a tight race but one that will eventually end with Kanye walking away the victor.
"Oh, I don't know," "American Idol" winner
Last week, MTV News learned that Geffen Records, which issued Democracy on Sunday as a Best Buy exclusive, would be holding on to GN'R's first-day sales figures until November 30, the same day West's label will report his week-one sales to Nielsen SoundScan. 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 sales days. At first, most assumed day-one sales of Chinese Democracy would be reported next week and released the morning of November 26.
"We've got an undeniable producer, an undeniable hip-hop artist, and we've got history,"
One of Axl Rose's contemporaries,
"It will probably be close, but Kanye will probably take it," he said. "The thing about Guns N' Roses is, it's not really Guns N' Roses. If Slash and Duff were still in it, I'd be a little more excited. Hopefully, it's a good album. I hope it's worth it, because they spent a lot of money and a lot of time on it. I like to record in two weeks, so I never second-guess myself.