Projected for an opening week sales tally in the 115-120,000 range, “Britney Jean” could open as the weakest debut of Britney Spears’ fifteen year career.
It will need a debut total of more than 121,000 sales–and thus require an upside surprise–to top the low mark set by her January 1999 debut “…Baby One More Time.”
And even if it does move more first week units than her debut, “Britney Jean” will surely not enjoy the shelf life of that album, which went onto achieve a Diamond Certification in the United States.
But the low sales total is not the only black mark “Britney Jean” threatens to impose on Spears’ career.
Save for a miracle, the album will not debut at number one.
According to Billboard, the odds-on favorite to reign on next week’s BB 200 album sales chart is Garth Brooks’ “Blame it All on My Roots.” After nearly doubling initial estimates with a 164,000 bow last week, the Wal-Mart exclusive Brooks set will again impress on the charts. Current forecasts suggest a second week total in the 150,000 range.
Assuming the pieces fall into their expected places, “Jean” would be only the second of Spears’ eight studio sets to fall short of number one. Previously, only Spears’ 2007 release “Blackout” fell similarly short of number one.
Interestingly enough, that album also lost out to a Wal-Mart exclusive release. The numbers game, however, was far different. The Eagles’ “Long Road Out of Eden,” the Wal-Mart release, moved a whopping 711,000 copies in the relevant week, while Spears’ album moved 290,000 copies.
Arguments that “Britney Jean” will be anything other than Spears’ weakest studio release are therefore impossible to make.
With holdovers from acts like One Direction, Kelly Clarkson, The Robertsons and Eminem all in the mix, Spears’ debut is the only one locked for the top ten, let alone the top five.
New albums with even a chance of landing in the top ten include the soundtrack to NBC’s “The Sound of Music” and Jake Owen’s “Days of Gold.” As of late last week, both were pacing to move about 40,000 first week copies, although it will be interesting to see if the impressive viewership numbers for NBC’s special help the soundtrack exceed the weekly forecasts.