Taylor Swift vs. Morgan Wallen: Will the Biggest Album of Late 2022 Dethrone the Biggest Album of Early 2023? 

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 June 11), Morgan Wallen’s 12-week No. 1 faces formidable challenges from a deluxified Taylor Swift blockbuster and a new Lil Durk album. 

Taylor Swift, Midnights (Republic): Remember this one? It’s not as though Taylor Swift’s massive Midnights has ever fallen far from the top spot after its seismic, 1.57 million-unit-moving debut week last October – as recently as the chart dated May 27, it was perched in the runner-up spot. But next week, it may have its best chance yet at getting back to No. 1 since it ceded the Billboard 200‘s top spot to Metro Boomin’s Heroes and Villains set last December.

That’s for several reasons, including new physical and digital re-issues of Midnights that came out last Friday (May 26). For vinyl enthusiasts, she debuted the new Love Potion purple marble variant of Midnights, which is available in independent stores (and was also briefly for preorder sale on her webstore earlier in the week). Fans more comfortable with DSPs and MP3s can get the Til Dawn edition of Midnights, which includes three bonus tracks: another version of the original album’s Lana Del Rey-featuring “Snow on the Beach” (this time with more Lana), a remix of “Karma” featuring buzzy rapper Ice Spice and “Hits Different,” previously available only on the Target-exclusive physical edition of Midnights.

If all that isn’t enough, there’s also Midnights (The Late Night Edition) — which was also very briefly for sale as a digital download on Swift’s webstore, as well as in CD form at her three live shows at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium over the weekend. This version also includes the new takes on “Snow” and “Karma,” and an original bonus cut, “You’re Losing Me,” which is not yet available for streaming. Between all these new editions of Midnights – already one of the best-performing albums of the 2020s — the clock may finally be ticking for Morgan Wallen’s continuous run at No. 1 with One Thing at a Time.  

Lil Durk, Almost Healed (Only the Family/Alamo/Sony): If not for Midnights re-entering the discussion, we’d likely be talking about the latest album from hip-hop superstar Lil Durk as having the best chance of unseating One Thing at No. 1. The Chicago rapper’s Almost Healed is his first LP since last year’s 7220, which brought him to the top of the Billboard 200 for the first time as an unaccompanied solo artist.  

Durk is also riding his biggest Billboard Hot 100 success to date as a lead artist, with Almost Healed’s J. Cole-featuring advance single “All My Life” debuting at No. 2 on the Hot 100 last week. Beyond Cole, the 21-track set also features a wide variety of big-name guests, including Future, 21 Savage, Alicia Keys, Kodak Black, the late Juice WRLD – and even Wallen himself, who teams up again with his old “Broadway Girls” co-star for this album’s “Stand by Me.”  


Kodak Black, Pistolz & Pearlz (Atlantic/Sniper Gang): Speaking of Kodak Black: The Florida rapper is also back, with his own follow-up to a smash 2022 LP (the “Super Gremlin”-featuring Back for Everything) in new set Pistolz & Pearlz. The new album, which has no A-list features and also lacks a physical release (or a lead single on the level of the top five-peaking Hot 100 hit “Gremlin”) may be Kodak’s final one for Atlantic — with the chart-topping rapper inking a new deal in 2022 to move to Capitol after his contract was done.  

Matchbox Twenty, Where the Light Goes (Atlantic): The last time we heard from turn-of-the-century pop/rock superstars Matchbox Twenty, in 2012, they were topping the Billboard 200 with the band’s fourth album, North. A lot has changed about the industry and about the top 40 landscape since, but the group returns this year with fifth album Where the Light Goes and is offering multiple vinyl variants with alternate cover art (as well as cassette, CD and digital releases) for the album, to hopefully still put up a first-week number worthy of the group’s best-selling ‘00s days.  

Tina Turner, All the Best: The Hits (Parlophone)Tina Turner’s death last week at age 83 sent the music industry into mourning, and fans to DSPs and online retailers to consume the legendary performer’s classic catalog. The set of hers that has received the bulk of the attention so far is her 2004 compilation All the Best, which assembles 18 of her signature hits, with most of the focus on her ‘80s and ‘90s solo material. The collection debuts at No. 45 on the Billboard 200 this week and will likely climb even higher in the first full week following her passing.  

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