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Vandross’ album is being buoyed, obviously, by a loyal core of fans eager to show their support in the wake of the singer’s stroke and subsequent coma earlier this year.

WEEK IN PREVIEW:
LUTHER, METALLICA IN TWO-WAY BATTLE FOR #1

Stricken R&B Star, Metal Vets Duke it Out as American Idol Singles Scorch
It’s looking like a two-way battle for #1 on this week’s Top 50 Albums chart. With the report-tallying continuing at a furious pace, it looks like Luther VandrossDance With My Father (J Records) is headed for a first week of about 400k, which puts it right in the wheelhouse of estimates for Metallica’s first full week on sale.

The returning metal legends, who moved nearly 417k from Thursday to Sunday last week, are expected to chalk up another 400k or so this week. So, will it be St. Anger or Father?

It’s too close to call at this point, but Vandross’ album is being buoyed, obviously, by a loyal core of fans eager to show their support in the wake of the singer’s stroke and subsequent coma earlier this year. The latest reports on his condition have him out of intensive care and improving.

The numbers should also reflect a strong weekend for Vandross thanks to Father’s Day sales of an album that happens to have "Father" in its title. And beyond that, last week’s Oprah tribute likely spurred sales as well.

Is it enough to topple the towering titans of tinnitus? We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see.

Meanwhile, Capitol’s Radiohead is seeing a great first week for its Hail to the Thief, with early counts pointing toward a first week just shy of 250k.

Also making strong first-week showings are George Strait’s Honkytonkville (MCA Nashville), which looks like it will come in shy of 150k, and Joe Budden’s Joe Budden (Def Jam), which is on track to do over 100k.

Steely Dan’s Everything Must Go (Reprise) appears to be building to a 70k-80k first-week climax, while American Idol sweetheart Justin Guarini’s eponymous debut looks like it will break 50k.

Speaking of American Idol, single sales have been off the chain this week, thanks to that series’ most recent winner and runner up, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Aiken is the leader here, as his "Bridge Over Troubled Water/This Is the Night" will have sold over 300k before all is said and done.

Studdard’s "Flying Without Wings/Superstar," meanwhile, is looking great in its own right, as numbers so far point to a week of around 250k.

Again, we remind our reader that original Idol Kelly Clarkson’s "A Moment Like This" single sold 236k in its first week, and that the average #1 single sells on the order of 5k.

Bow down to these Idols, slave! Nothing false about ’em.

REPUBLIC UPS GOLDSTEIN, ROPPO TO CO-PRESIDENTS
Team Lipman doubles up. (11/26a)
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE:
HOLIDAY CHEER IS HERE
Season's bleatings (11/23a)
COUNTRY GRAMMYS' ROOTS ARE SHOWING
Deck the Grammys with boughs of Holly. (11/24a)
THE BRITISH
ARE COMING
Rolling out our U.K. Special print issue (11/24a)
AND THE GRAMMY NOMINEES ARE...
Olivia, the Biebs, H.E.R., Doja Cat, Billie and Jon Batiste lead the way. (11/24a)
TURKEY
Basting.
STUFFING
Stuffing.
YAMS
Candying.
PUMPKIN PIE
Stuffing (in face).
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