At this point, are there more Beliebers or Directioners out there? We’re about to find out. One Direction’s fifth studio album, Made in the A.M., and Justin Bieber’s comeback effort, Purpose, both of which are being released Friday, are locked in an extremely tight race for #1. Both albums are expected to sell in the range of 350K copies in their first week – not counting “equivalent units” based on digital track sales and
Eight out of nine music merchandisers surveyed by Billboard say the race is simply “too close to call.” This is shaping up as the pop music equivalent of Bush v. Gore.
A lot is riding on this: Neither act has ever missed the top spot with a studio album. And there’s absolutely no chance of a second opportunity to move up to #1 the following week. Adele’s 25 is certain to debut at #1 that week with a total expected to be (far) north of 1 million.
Both Bieber and 1D would set records if they reached #1. It would be Bieber’s sixth #1 album, which would allow him to pull ahead of Drake as the Canadian artist with the most #1s. (They have been tied since Drake landed his fifth #1 in September.) It would be 1D’s fifth #1 in a row, which would make them the first group to reach #1 with their first five studio albums since the Kingston Trio achieved the feat way back in 1958-‘60.