It's going to be a tough fight to knock Taylor Swift from the top of this week's chart and looking at this week's major contenders, it seems unlikely that any of them have the commercial punch to do it. As major labels hold some of their big releases back for the Christmas rush, others will be kept back until 2013, so they don't get swamped by a barrage of festive compilations and greatest hits releases.
Neil Young releases his 35th studio album this week. Psychedelic Pill was written and recorded in collaboration with his sometime band, Crazy Horse, marking their first album of original material since Greendale in 2003. As with many of Young's latter-day releases, the quality is less than consistent, though most reviews have erred in favour of the experienced rocker and Metacritic have given it a highly respectable collated score of 82.
Black Country Communion - the super-group featuring Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian release their third album, Afterglow, this week. There have been rumours bounding around that Black Country Communion were on the verge of splitting but, with an album to promote and, that doesn't seem likely just yet. The album's been well received in the world of rock, metal and blues publications; the lure of Bonamassa may well be enough to create some mainstream appeal for Afterglow, as well.
Repping for the country music genre this is Toby Keith. Hope On The Rocks is Keith's 16th studio album and Keith is a regular feature in the top 5 of the US albums chart. Stalwart country fans may be tiring of Taylor Swift's slow rebuttal of the genre, in favour of a more pop-oriented sound, so perhaps they'll come out in force to support one of their more authentic stars.
The biggest hip-hop release of the week comes from Meek Mill, aka Robert Williams. He's signed to Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group, so there'll be a hefty promotional budget behind Meek Mill's debut studio album, Dreams & Nightmares. There's a stellar cast making an appearance on the album, too, including Mary J Blige, Rick Ross, Drake and John Legend. Kendrick Lamar's album last week has already been hailed as the most vital hip-hop release of the year... can Meek Mill snatch that accolade from him?
Next up in the conveyor belt of Christmas albums are Rod Stewart and Katherine Jenkins. The former has just published his autobiography, with some interesting revelations about his particular methods of drug taking, in his heyday (you'll just have to read it... or not...) and, in slight juxtaposition to the images created there, comes Merry Christmas, Baby, on the Verve record label. Rod tackles Christmas classics, such as 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' and 'Winter Wonderland' and brings in guests such as Cee Lo Green and Mary J Blige for added credibility points. Katherine Jenkins is trying to capitalise on her Dancing With The Stars fame by releasing This Is Christmas, an operatic offering from the Welsh beauty.