Predicting the Success of Fall's Pop Album Releases

Spoiler: Taylor Swift's 1989 is going to be huge. She better hope Adele was bluffing about her new album, though.

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With yesterday's release of Maroon 5's new album V, we're firmly one foot forward into fall music season. After a summer of mostly disappointing tracks that couldn't get any real traction in the pop world, Top 40's best and brightest not named Beyoncé or Rihanna will be trying to make a bigger impact this autumn.

But using a bit of intuition and a lot of wild guessing, we're going to try to predict how these pop albums will do long before they're released. How many hit singles will each artist or group have? What will their first week of sales look like? We're telling you definitively right here and now. And by "definitively," we mean "absolutely unscientifically."

There are a ton of new albums coming out this fall, but for this exercise, we limited to pop records. Of course, pop has a pretty broad definition these days, but our criteria focused on success in the Top 40 world. Some were hard calls – Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V isn't included, for example – but we have more on those other albums coming later.

V, Maroon 5

Release date: Just released yesterday.
Hit singles: Despite all of Maroon 5's modern hits sounding the same, they all do really well. They'll milk at least three off this record.
First-week sales: Adam Levine is huge, and the last album did over 200,000. This set will do at least 300,000, if not more.
Tour? Yes, but not this fall, as Levine is committed to The Voice. The tour will start in February.

Dream Your Night Away, Vance Joy

Release date: Sept. 9
Hit singles: "Riptide" is the right kind of TV-commercial ubiquitous, but that's likely to be the only one.
First-week sales: He's not quite popular enough to generate good heat. 50,000.
Tour? He hits the U.S. starting in October.

X, Chris Brown

Release date: Sept. 16
Hit singles: Two, maybe three. It's par for the course from his last few records.
First-week sales: Between 100,000 and 150,000.
Tour? No set dates yet, but it appears he's going on tour with Trey Songz.

Bulletproof Picasso, Train

Release date: Sept. 16
Hit singles: One über-catchy hit that breaks out.
First-week sales: They did 76,000 with their last effort, so let's stay in the same neighborhood. 70,000.
Tour? Playing a few dates in major cities, but nothing expansive yet.

Black Star Elephant, Nico & Vinz

Release date: Sept. 16
Hit singles: "Am I Wrong" might be the one-hit of their wonder.
First-week sales: 55,000. Competing with Brown won't help.
Tour? No news so far.

Cheek to Cheek, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett

Release date: Sept. 23
Hit singles: None; this is an album of standards.
First-week sales: This could be huge. 400,000 seems totally attainable. Great American Songbook sets sell well, and this has a nice hook to it with Gaga's involvement.
Tour? Shockingly, maybe! Gaga's alluded that they might do it.

Point of No Return, Keyshia Cole

Release date: Oct. 7
Hit singles: Probably zero. It's never really broken through to Top 40 before; why would it now?
First-week sales: Her last album did 96,000, but this one likely won't do as well. 80,000.
Tour? None announced.

Heart on My Sleeve, Mary Lambert

Release date: Oct. 14
Hit singles: We have faith that Lambert will strike gold with at least one. Her record label (Capitol) and its promo machine really seems to be behind her.
First-week sales: This is an absolute guess without prior work or precedent. She's been on a massive hit single, but few know her name, and there's no hit single yet. 55,000?
Tour? No, though she is playing scattered shows.

Tough Love, Jessie Ware

Release date: Oct. 21
Hit singles: None, probably, but "Say You Love Me" should be everywhere on U.S. radio. It's gorgeous.
First-week sales: Can't expect much more than modest; 40,000.
Tour? She's currently on a world tour, but there are only a few U.S. dates.

Sucker, Charli XCX

Release date: Oct. 21
Hit singles: "Boom Clap" has done well, and she could really break out with this record. (She needs to get Americans to recognize her slightly odd name, though.) We'll guess two hits, "Boom Clap" included.
First-week sales: A little less than 100,000, probably.
Tour? Yes, but not many dates on the books.

1989, Taylor Swift

Release date: Oct. 27
Hit singles: Swift has had less luck with singles than you'd imagine. Her albums tend to do better – "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was her first and only number-one single before "Shake It Off." With the laser-tight pop focus, though, she might be in better shape. We'll guess four.
First-week sales: Two gazillion. (Over a million.)
Tour? She hasn't announced one, but come on.

Money Sucks, Friends Rule, Dillon Francis

Release date: Oct. 28
Hit singles: Calvin Harris had one big hit on his first record, so let's assume the same for this DJ. (He's not quite David Guetta.)
First-week sales: There's a built-in fanbase for EDM. 90,000.
Tour? Mhmm.

Non-Fiction, Ne-Yo

Release date: Nov. 11
Hit singles: Ne-Yo's kind of lost his touch here. Probably none.
First-week sales: His last record only did 68,000 in its first week. We'll inch that up to 70,000.
Tour? Eleven cities starting in October.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, Various Artists

Release date: Nov. 18
Hit singles: Lorde knows her way around a hit. We'll assume that as this soundtrack's curator, she'll be part of choosing the singles.
First-week sales: The first soundtrack did better than the second, but the Lorde angle should make this an easier sell. 100,000.
Tour? Unless you count Jennifer Lawrence's press tour, then no.

Nick Jonas, Nick Jonas

Release date: Nov. 21
Hit singles: There's a wildly different sound going on here, as evidenced by first single "Chains." But it hasn't really been a hit. If he produces some upbeat work on the album and can really sell himself as a viable solo pop artist, he could get two or three hits. If it's mostly like "Chains," he'll come up short.
First-week sales: It honestly depends on whether he can generate a hit single before the album drops. With one: 175,000. Without: 65,000.
Tour? None so far.

The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj

Release date: TBD
Hit singles: "Anaconda" is doing well, and "Bang Bang" (which will be on the album in some form, even just as a bonus track) is a hit too. She can probably churn at least one more hit out beyond those two.
First-week sales: Pink Friday bowed to almost 400,000,  but Roman Reloaded was a step back with only 250,000. Minaj is riding a great press cycle this time around, though, so we'll split the difference and go with 300,000.
Tour? Nope.

New Usher album

Release date: We've gotten lots of singles, but no release date.
Hit singles: "She Came to Give It to You" feels like a monster hit that just hasn't caught fire yet. At least two, maybe three big singles.
First-week sales: His last record, Looking 4 Myself, did considerably lower numbers than his previous work at 128,000. He may sell slightly better than that, but the wind is out of his sails a bit. 150,000.
Tour? Yes! Starts in November.

New One Direction album

Release date: They've been recording, and we're due, but no release date or title yet.
Hit singles: The boys of the UK have consistently churned out two hit singles with each album. Who's to say that streak will be broken?
First-week sales: Though it feels like 1D's star has faded a bit since their last album (three records in three years can lead to fatigue), they should still have a hit here. 450,000.
Tour? They're touring currently. They never really stop touring.

New Hilary Duff album

Release date: Originally supposed to be released in October, Duff's delayed for "a few months." Remains to be seen if she'll get it in before 2015.
Hit singles: "All About You" is a jam, but it's not burning up the charts. We'll optimistically say one.
First-week sales: Should be modestly successful – 60,000?
Tour? Nope.

New Kanye West album

Release date: The album itself isn't announced yet, but we know he's been working with Paul McCartneyBillboard thinks he's going to pull a Beyoncé and drop the album suddenly.
Hit singles: If he really does Beyoncé, one. Even she couldn't generate a lot of interest in singles because people were obsessed with the album.
First-week sales: Again, depends on whether or not he drops the album suddenly. But 700,000 seems like a believable number.
Tour? He'll tour if he releases it, but that may be into next year.

New Calvin Harris album

Release date: Still to be determined when we're getting the next Harris banger.
Hit singles: "Summer" was already a medium-sized hit, so let's give him another two moderate hits, for a total of three.
First-week sales: Hard to predict. Let's say less than 100,000.
Tour? No formal tour, but a smattering of appearances.

New Adele album?

Release date: Who knows if we're even getting this? Other than her birthday tweet above – which, if her album naming convention sticks, means the record will be titled 25 – we have no word from her whatsoever. That said, she's not shooting down rumors wholesale, and we can dream.
Hit singles: She had four last album, but only "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You" were unqualified smashes. So let's say two.
First week sales: A million, easy.
Tour? She likely will go on tour – if there's an album.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.