John Mayer headed to top of albums chart

50 Cent, Norah Jones vying for the No. 3 spot

The annual onslaught of big album releases has begun in earnest as a bevy of superstar acts are in the hunt for high debuts on next week's Billboard 200 chart.

John Mayer is on track to debut at No. 1 with "Battle Studies," which could sell somewhere between 275,000 and 300,000 copies by week's end on Nov. 22, according to industry sources. It will be the singer/songwriter's second topper, following "Heavier Things" in 2003. "Heavier" bowed in the penthouse with 317,000 copies. Mayer's last studio set, "Continuum," entered the chart at No. 2 with 300,000 in 2006.

Mayer will likely lead a parade of who's-who in music next week on the chart, as another nine albums are on track to debut inside the top 20. Next in line could be Casting Crowns' "Until the Whole World Hears," with possibly as much as 175,000 copies. After that, 50 Cent's "Before I Self Destruct" and Norah Jones' "The Fall" are vying for the third-highest debut, as each are estimated to sell around 150,000 copies.

Tween sensation Justin Bieber's debut album, "My World," could shift 100,000 copies while "American Idol" winner Kris Allen may see his debut effort move approximately 90,000 copies. Rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures seems on track to sell about 75,000 with its first effort and Leona Lewis' second album, "Echo," may sell 50,000 to 60,000, as will Paul McCartney's new live set "Good Evening New York City."

As for the big-selling holdover titles on next week's list, the largest will be Andrea Bocelli's "My Christmas," which should sell another 100,000 copies. So far in two weeks, it has moved 285,000 copies.

Next week's chart competes with the Billboard 200 in 2008 when Beyonce's "I Am ... Sasha Fierce" blew in with 482,000 copies and Nickelback's "Dark Horse" galloped into the runner-up slot with 326,000 copies. All told, the tally greeted six debuts in the top 10 and each of the top seven sets surpassed 100,000 copies.

Nielsen SoundScan's sales tracking week, as reflected in Billboard's sales charts, runs from Monday through Sunday of each week. Next week's album charts will be revealed on Nov. 25 and will reflect data through the week ending Nov. 22.