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In another fact which qualifies as intriguing, it appears nearly a third of that [Zac Brown Band] total will be digital, unusual for what is essentially a country act.

BROWN AND MAROON IN THE MIX FOR TOP SPOT

Grammy Best New Artist Winners and Maroon 5 Will Be Neck and Neck for #1

It’s Color Wars this week as Atlantic’s Best New Artist Grammy winners Zac Brown Band and A&M/Octone’s Maroon 5 battle for #1 on next week’s HITS Top 50.

The results are based on reports from those music retailers and distributors who haven’t shifted over to manufacturing and selling widgets.

Zac Brown Band’s You Get What You Give is their first studio album since 2007’s double-platinum The Foundation, which has sold 2.3 million to date. That album is still in the HITS Top 50 (#40 this week). The Atlanta-based outfit’s latest is on target for between 145-155k in sales. In another fact which qualifies as intriguing, it appears nearly a third of that total will be digital, unusual for what is essentially a country act.

Meanwhile, A&M/Octone act Maroon 5 return with their third studio album, the Mutt Lange-produced Hands All Over, their follow-up to 2007’s It Won’t Be Soon Before Long. Based on first-day figures, the album should do between 140-150k, a far cry from the 430k it scored back then.

Arista/RMG’s new Clive Davis-helmed Santana album, Guitar Heaven, features the Hall of Fame axeman working out on some rock chestnuts like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with India.Arie and Yo Yo Ma and Def Leppard’s “Photograph,” featuring Daughtry. Also guesting are Rob Thomas, Joe Cocker, Gavin Rossdale and Train’s Pat Monahan on songs like “Little Wing,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Sunhine of Your Love.” Look for the album to debut with between 55-60k in sales.

Fellow Latina, Hollywood’s red-hot Selena Gomez and the Scene, are also back with their sophomore album, A Year Without Rain, the follow-up to last year’s gold Kiss & Tell, also looking at 55-60k.

John Legend & the RootsColumbia album, Wake Up!, should do in the 45-50k range for what Legend himself describes as an aural response to “this intense brew of possibility and persistent poverty, optimism and despair, activism and unrest, global connectedness and intractable global conflicts…. a blend of soul, hip-hop, funk, gospel and reggae.” Sounds good to us.

Finally, Mercury Nashville’s Billy Currington returns with his fourth studio album for the label, Enjoy Yourself, which should move 40-45k units in its first week for the Savannah, GA-born country singer-songwriter.

The market was up 11% vs. last week, down 17% vs. same week last year and still down 13% year to date.

You may now return to fantasizing about Delaware Senatorial candidate (and alleged Wiccan) Christine O’Donnell. Add Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter and you have a minion for a right-wing coven. Just keep your hands out of your pants.

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