Update 3: While Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence” remains in control of the iTunes Album Sales chart, good news has not eluded Sam Smith’s “In the Lonely Hour.”

According to Hits Daily Double, the opening week sales forecast for the Smith album has already been upgraded to 140-160,000. Del Rey’s album is still tracking to sell 175-200,000.

Linkin Park’s “The Hunting Party,” the week’s other major release, is pacing for 110-120,000.

Update 2: As of press time at 9AM, Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence” had reclaimed the number one position on iTunes.

Update: As of press time at 1:15AM, Sam Smith’s “In the Lonely Hour” has actually overtaken Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence” on the iTunes Album Sales chart. Industry sources, nonetheless, are still forecasting an overall weekly victory for the Del Rey album.
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The most compelling album sales race of the year is officially underway, and it is thus far offering Lana Del Rey no cause for “Summertime Sadness.”

Immediately upon release Tuesday morning, Del Rey’s new album “Ultraviolence” cruised to number one on the iTunes Album Sales chart. Sam Smith’s debut “In the Lonely Hour,” which was poised to provide the greatest competition for the Del Rey album, is currently number two.

While total iTunes sales for the Del Rey album are still believed to be stronger at this point, it is worth noting that the non-deluxe edition of Smith’s album is #9 on iTunes. In addition to the deluxe, #1 version of “Ultraviolence,” Del Rey is also represented by a censored version of the deluxe album at #27 and the standard issue at #35.

Other notable new releases include Linkin Park’s “The Hunting Party” (#3), deadmau5′s “while(1<2)” (#4) and Tiesto’s “A Town Called Paradise” (#10). J-Lo’s new “AKA” has not yet claimed a valuable chart position on iTunes.

iTunes only represents one sales channel, but Del Rey’s lead is consistent with pre-release forecasts. In a feature article Monday, Hits Daily Double reported that “Ultraviolence” was expected to win the overall weekly sales race with a total of 175-200,000. Smith’s album was likely to follow in the 125-150,000 range, while Linkin Park’s “The Hunting Party” looked like a safe bet for 125,000.

The Smith number will be most interesting to follow throughout the week. The least established of the three artists, Smith’s buzz and commercial standing are hardest to gauge. An acclaimed vocalist, he also stands to generate tangible benefit from promotional and TV appearances this week.

On the other hand, there is also the chance that his surplus of pre-orders provided analysts with an inflated perspective of his ability to move units during the full sales week.

Del Rey, meanwhile, will rely largely on her pre-existing–but very passionate–fanbase to buy records this week. Lead single “West Coast,” which represented the truest promotional collateral for the album, only recently began scoring alternative radio play and has yet to make an impact at pop.

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