Albums traditionally hit stores on Tuesdays with a few exceptions (Metallica's "Death Magnetic," Lil Wayne's digital "I Am Not a Human Being"). But nearly everybody in the music biz is breaking the rules later this month to cash in the biggest shopping week of the year, anchored by the post-Thanksgiving capitalism-a-thon Black Friday. Since album sales have been epically low, the Billboard Top 200 figures on November 30th should be strong. After all, the following seven releases are all coming out Monday, November 22nd, a.k.a. The Day That Will Save the Record Industry (We Think ... We Hope ... Please, God ... Is Willow Smith Still Around?).
The album with crazy "banned" artwork! A song with 11 collaborators! A track lampooning his own moral failings! A short film starring Selita Ebanks! West is working overtime promoting his fifth album and his psychological transformation. It's going to be as huge as his unrehabilitated ego.
Key Single: "Runaway"
The lone rock band repping on 11/22 is a biggie: these Jersey boys are reinventing themselves as marauding comic book heroes on their long-awaited fourth album, and the first taste has delivered bigtime. Killjoys, make some noise indeed!
Key Single: "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)"
Standard, deluxe, and collectors' edition packages wrapping up 19 of Jay's biggest successes, from "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" to "Big Pimpin'." Seems like any real fan would already have all these tracks, but this is Hova's first-ever U.S. best-of, so it should still sell well. The priciest set comes with a 100-page book of photos, and the deluxe will buy you a 32-page mini book.
Key Single: They're all hits, so why not enjoy "Encore"
Nicki Lewinski, Nicki the Ninja, Nicki the Boss, Nicki the Harajuku Barbie - this 25-year-old MC from Queens is the real deal and everyone seems to know it. She's been selling records for Ludacris, Robin Thicke, Usher, Sean Kingston, and Trey Songz, and on Pink Friday (well, Monday) she'll move some units for herself.
Key Single: Will.i.am collaboration "Check It Out" is the least profane and ballady of the bunch she's leaked so far.
A concept album about a trio of garbage men turned R&B superheroes called the Gentleman who are prohibited from falling in love. Sound strange? Sure. But Ne-Yo's last Gentleman project debuted with 250k sold.
Key Single: "Beautiful Monster"
Lady Gaga amped up attention for "The Fame" with a companion mini-set called "The Fame Monster," and now Ke$ha is going to try the same trick with her "Animal" sidekick "Cannibal" (sadly, not "Manimal") featuring production by bona fide chart monsters Dr. Luke and Max Martin.
Key Single: We R Who We R"
A DVD set collecting more than 40 of the King of Pop's music videos and short films is the definition of a can't-miss holiday release. Full-length versions of "Thriller," "Black or White," and "Smooth Criminal" made the cut, but you'll still have to hit up the web for the nearly 40-minute version of "Ghosts."
Key Single: "They Don't Care About Us"