Following SZA’s 10-week reign atop the album chart with SOS (TDE/RCA), Big Loud/Mercury/Republic’s Morgan Wallen is beginning a reign of his own with his latest juggernaut, One Thing at a Time. The two albums are currently positioned at #1 and #2 on our YTD Overall Activity chart, and they’re the front-runners to finish at #1 in total activity for 2023.

Wallen will take a slight lead over SZA on Friday thanks to One Thing's huge second week, and by next week the two albums will be neck and neck at around 1.1m YTD.

What makes the competition interesting right now is that Wallen’s album is experiencing an atypical lack of decay in its second week, much like SOS has, continuing to throw off strong numbers since release.

Indeed, SZA has more in the tank: The R&B star has been teasing a deluxe version of SOS with 10 additional tracks, bringing the total to 33, just shy of One Thing at a Time’s 36. The timing of the deluxe package will play a crucial role in determining SOS’ final number for 2023.

Physical product will also figure prominently in both albums’ final year-end numbers. Wallen has vinyl on deck for One Thing—which sold an impressive 87k in digital downloads and 24k in CDs during its first week. By contrast, SZA has yet to roll out any physical configuration of her sophomore album. A deluxe offering with CD and vinyl options could amount to a significant boost for SOS.

Yes, it’s rather early to be discussing this race, but it’s likely that Wallen and SZA’s Q1 performances will enable both to run away from the competition this year. As for activity to date on the two albums—both sets had tracks released before 2023—One Thing at a Time has already crossed 1.5m (with another 200k+ loaded this week), while SOS is at 2m.

We’ll be watching closely as this battle of next-gen giants plays out over the coming months.