Welcome to The Contenders, a midweek column that looks at artists aiming for the top of the Billboard charts, and the strategies behind their efforts. This week (for the upcoming Billboard 200 albums chart dated Dec. 3): The most successful original album in Billboard 200 history celebrates its 40th anniversary by returning to the chart’s upper tier, while a pair of new sets from Brockhampton could send the group off with a bang.
Michael Jackson, Thriller (Epic): Just a couple weeks ago, we were talking about Michael Jackson‘s Thriller as a factor on the Billboard 200 following its annual Halloween bump – and now, the set may once again be a threat for the chart’s top tier, thanks to a new reissue celebrating the set’s 40th anniversary. The album is available in limited-edition single LP, or as part of a two-CD set that includes a disc of unreleased demos and bonus material.
This revival is practically unheard of – except for Thriller, which has repeatedly made chart history, including with a record 37 nonconsecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 from 1982 to 1984. Still, it will face stiff competition from well-performing incumbents by Taylor Swift, Drake and 21 Savage, and Bad Bunny.
Brockhampton, The Family and TM (Question Everything/RCA): After announcing its impending breakup in January, rap collective and “boy band” Brockhampton teased fans with the prospect of a final album out before the end of the year. The Family came out last Thursday (Nov. 17), followed the next day by TM – a two-set farewell to the group’s fans.
Brockhampton has always sold well, thanks to its devoted fan base, and it is offering box sets of The Family and signed copies of TM on its web site. The idea is to follow the success of 2018’s Iradescence, which became the group’s first (and to date, only) album to top the Billboard 200.
Disturbed, Divisive (Reprise): They might not be the most obvious chart conquerors, but few artists have been as consistently successful on the Billboard 200 this century as mainstream rock stalwarts Disturbed. From 2002 to 2015, they topped the chart with five consecutive albums, a streak finally snapped in 2018 with the No. 4 peak of their Evolution.
The Chicago band will look to start a new chart-topping run with this month’s Divisive, its first new album since 2018, which frontman David Draiman calls a “blisteringly angry” set inspired by the tumultuous time. The early response on radio has been positive, with lead single “Hey You” becoming Disturbed’s 11th single to top the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart.
IN THE MIX
Rod Wave, Jupiter’s Diary: 7 Day Theory (Alamo): Florida rapper Rod Wave already topped the BIllboard 200 once in 2022, with August’s Beautiful Mind, thanks to robust streaming numbers from his devoted online following. Fans will have fewer tracks to stream on this month’s Jupiter’s Diary, since the EP only runs a scant eight tracks, including the previously released “Break My Heart.”
Roddy Ricch, Feed the Streets III (Bird Vision/Atlantic): Roddy Ricch’s latest mixtape is the third installment of his Feed the Streets series, but his first since breaking through on the national stage with 2019’s Please Excuse Me for Being Anti-Social and the 2020 11-week Hot 100 No. 1 “The Box.” The set features appearances from Lil Durk and Ty Dolla $ign, and a pair of R&B/Hip-Hop Songs-charting advance tracks in “Stop Breathing” and “Aston Martin Truck.”
Nickelback, Get Rollin’ (Nickelback II Productions/BMG): Disturbed aren’t the only hard rock fixtures back this week: Canadian rockers Nickelback return with its first album in five years, the heavier Get Rollin’. The band has seen its commercial fortunes fade since their ‘00s heyday, but it still has an active run of seven consecutive top 10-peaking albums on the Billboard 200, most recently the 2017 No. 5 Feed the Machine.
Dolly Parton, Diamonds & Rhinestones (Sony Music Entertainment): The recently enshrined Rock and Roll Hall of Famer takes a well-earned victory lap this month with the new greatest hits set Diamonds & Rhinestones. The 23-track collection of Dolly Parton’s personal favorites spans from 1971 breakthrough “Coat of My Colors” to 2020’s “Faith” collab with dance artists Gallantis and Mr. Probz, and is available on streaming, CD and double-LP vinyl.