*The new albums from Michael Jackson and the Black Keys are both in the running for the No. 1 slot on next week’s Billboard 200 chart.
As of May 14, the Black Keys’ eighth album, “Turn Blue”, has the edge over Jackson’s “Xscape”, but not by much, Billboard reports. Industry forecasters suggest the former may sell upwards of 150,000 copies in the week ending May 18, while “Xscape” could sell 140,000. Both albums were released on Tuesday, May 13.
The Billboard 200′s new top 10 will be revealed on Wednesday, May 21.
“Xscape” would mark the seventh No. 1 for the King of Pop, who died in 2009. The new set is his second posthumous album of previously unreleased material, following “Michael” in 2011. “Michael” debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 228,000 in the week ending Dec. 19. It has sold 541,000 to date.
Jackson previously topped the Billboard 200 with “Thriller,” “Bad,” “Dangerous,” “History: Past, Present and Future Book 1,” “Invincible” and “Michael Jackson’s This Is It.”
The first-week sales on “Xscape” might be amplified by a special experience celebrating Jackson during the Billboard Music Awards (May 18). There are no details on what the event will include, but it has been described by the producers of the show as “Michael Jackson like you’ve never seen him before.”
Meanwhile, Epic Records Chairman and CEO L.A. Reid says a collaboration with Jackson and Justin Bieber is likely coming.
Reid executive produced the new “Xscape” album and is the man who signed Bieber to Island Records in 2009.
Fans will recall the track “Slave 2 The Rhythm” that was leaked last year with vocals by both Jackson and Bieber. Sony Music Entertainment was quick to remove the track from the web and now it appears without Biebs on Jackson’s “Xscape.”
He said, “I signed Justin, so I feel a loyalty. I feel like I should protect him. That’s my relationship with him. But ‘Slave 2 The Rhythm’ didn’t include him per my direction … If it hadn’t been leaked, it would have been featured but it sort of took the wrong turn. But you know what? We’re gonna revisit that.”
He added, “We’re going to revisit it and do something really special with Justin Bieber and Michael.”
Asked if that meant, “Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson may be singing together on a future release of Michael’s?” Reid responded, “I’m pretty sure.”
Jackson’s Justin Timberlake featured single “Love Never Felt So Good” debuted last week at No. 20 on the Hot 100 and No. 6 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.