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Will Drake Fetch Another Big Week With ‘For All the Dogs’? 

today10/11/2023

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The Contenders is a midweek column that looks at artists aiming for the top of the Billboard charts, and the strategies behind their efforts. This week (for the upcoming charts dated Oct. 21), Drake seems sure to land one of the year’s biggest first weeks with his latest album For All the Dogs, but will have to do so without much in the way of physical sales. 

Drake, For All the Dogs (OVO/Republic): After seemingly countless delays and false starts, Drake’s long-anticipated For All the Dogs finally arrived at 6:00 a.m. ET on Friday morning (Oct. 6). The rapper’s eighth official solo studio album – not counting collaborative sets, compilations, mixtapes or “playlists” — came not only as the superstar rapper was winding down his It’s All a Blur tour alongside Her Loss co-lead 21 Savage, but right before he announced that Dogs would be his last work before an extended hiatus, as he tended to health issues.  

If it’s the last of Drake that fans will get for a while, Dogs is certainly plenty: 23 tracks and 84 minutes, including guest appearances from fellow stars J. Cole, Bad Bunny, SZA (again) and of course Savage, among other big-name and rising artists. The album has received mostly unflattering reviews, but has still dominated streaming services, with 12 of its tracks still in the top 25 of Spotify’s Daily Top USA chart, and all 23 tracks still in the Apple Music real-time top 25 — both currently led by the set’s “IDGAF” featuring Yeat, the leading early contender to become the set’s major breakout hit. 

The album should not have a ton of competition for the Billboard 200’s top spot next week – it’s more of a question of how big his debut atop the chart will be. It will have to come without help from a physical release: Despite other A-list stars of his level putting increasing emphasis on vinyl and CD sets to help bolster their first-week numbers, Drake continues to be digital-only, likely in large part due to his tendency to make last-minute edits to his albums. Nonetheless, lack of physical product didn’t hold Her Loss from posting over 400,000 units in its first week last year, or Certified Lover Boy from over 600,000 in 2021 – with For All the Dogs likely to fall somewhere between those two sets in its debut frame.  

IN THE MIX 

NCT 127, The 5th Album Fact Check (SM Entertainment): South Korean pop group NCT 127 has been a strong contender on the Billboard 200 with each release this decade, hitting the chart’s top five with each of their last three albums (2020’s Neo Zone, 2021’s Sticker and 2022’s Baddies). The group hopes to make it four albums in four years with their fifth LP, Fact Check. Sales of the set will be bolstered by multiple CD packages, including retailer-exclusive variants for Target and Walmart, while the group’s official webstore is also selling nine different alternative versions of the album digitally (each with a different cover and an additional unique bonus track) and three deluxe boxed sets, containing a branded piece of clothing or accessory, along with a physical copy of the album. 

(G)I-dle, Heat (88 Rising/Cube Entertainment): Elsewhere in South Korea, popular girl group (G)I-dle are also back with a new set, the Heat EP. This set is for sale in multiple collectible physical versions (all CD packages), including retailer-exclusive variants for Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Target, with some containing randomized merchandise contents (including photocards and bookmarks). The quintet hit No. 41 on the Billboard 200 earlier this year with their prior EP, I Feel

Junior H, $ad Boyz 4 Life II (Warner Music Latina/Rancho Humilde): Junior H has long been one of the most exciting and acclaimed young artists in Mexican music, but his status hasn’t always shown on the Billboard 200, where he’s yet to reach above No. 138. That should change next week with the release of his latest corridos tumbados collection $ad Boyz 4 Life II – his first since gaining extra crossover attention alongside superstar Peso Pluma on hits like “Lady Gaga” and “Bipolar,” both of which are still on the Hot 100 this week. None of those are on his own album, however, which does not include any collaborations – or have any physical versions for sale — but is still expected to stream very well.  

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