Thanks to expected sales spikes due to the MTV Video Music Awards, Robin Thicke and Katy Perry look to be neck-and-neck in the latest projections for the chart's top spot, to be revealed on Billboard.com next Wednesday (Sept. 4). This week, Thicke's "Blurred Lines" (featuring T.I. and Pharrell) spends a 12th week at the summit, fending off Katy Perry's "Roar," which holds at No. 2.
Meanwhile, Eminem is due to blast in with his new single "Berzerk," while Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus should also see post-VMA increases.
According to industry sources, "Roar" could sell 450,000-475,000 downloads for the tracking week ending Sunday (Sept. 1). She performed the song to close out the VMAs last Sunday (Aug. 25).
"Lines" is projected to sell 225,000-250,000 following Thicke's much-buzzed-about performance of it at the VMAs with Miley Cyrus in a medley with her "We Can't Stop." Her hit, which currently ranks at No. 3 on the Hot 100, could sell 150,000 by the end of the tracking week. (Her new single "Wrecking Ball," which enters the Hot 100 at No. 50 this week with 90,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, is projected to jump to 190,000-200,000.)
The VMAs opening number, Lady Gaga's "Applause," at No. 4 on the Hot 100 this week, is forecast to sell 200,000-225,000.
The other song headed for a high sales start is Eminem's "Berzerk," which should start with a lofty 350,000-375,000. The song previews Eminem's new album, which was teased in a commercial during the VMAs; "The Marshall Mathers LP 2," a sequel to his 2000 album "The Marshall Mathers LP" (which has sold 10.7 million copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan) is due Nov. 5.
What do all these numbers mean for next week's Hot 100?
Presently, it's too early to tell whether Thicke will add a lucky 13th week at No. 1 with "Lines" or Perry will notch her eighth Hot 100 leader with "Roar." The race simply looks that close.
Combining the sales projections above and taking building Nielsen BDS data for airplay and streaming (the components which join sales to form the Hot 100's three measurement metrics) and projecting it over a full week, the songs are in extremely close proximity. (On the current Hot 100, "Lines" leads "Roar" by 13% in overall points. Last week, "Lines" sported just a 3% advantage.)
"Lines" should still lead the Radio Songs airplay chart next week, although it's declining in points, while "Roar" should pounce into the top 10. Both songs are projected to gain in streaming, with their streaming sums potentially not far apart once a full week of data is compiled.
Meanwhile, Eminem, with the expected high sales for "Berzerk," along with early airplay and streaming (it ranks just below the 75- and 50-position thresholds for Radio Songs and Streaming Songs, respectively, on each building chart as of this posting) appears likely to debut in the Hot 100's top five, jockeying for position with Cyrus and Lady Gaga in the region.
Check Billboard.com on Wednesday (Sept. 4) for all the songs' official figures and to find out who claims the Hot 100's coveted crown. The refreshed Hot 100 will appear in full on Billboard.com next Thursday (Sept. 5) and in next week's issue of Billboard magazine.