Everyone has a new album on November 23 -- Rihanna, Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga, and more have albums coming out Thanksgiving week
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It’s Christmas come early for music fans. Seven major singers are set to drop albums Nov. 23, setting the stage for the most exciting — and competitive — sales week of 2009. Hitting shelves that day: all-new albums from Rihanna (Rated R), Adam Lambert (For Your Entertainment), Shakira (She Wolf), and Susan Boyle (I Dreamed a Dream); as well as Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster deluxe edition (featuring a rerelease of her debut album, The Fame, plus eight new songs), Britney Spears’ box set (The Singles Collection), and two offerings from Beyoncé (a two-disc/one-DVD live set, I Am…Yours, and a souped-up version of her I Am…Sasha Fierce). In fact, the date is already being called Super Monday in the record industry. (Albums are usually released on Tuesdays, but they’ll be out a day early because of Thanksgiving.) Just how big will it be for business? A rep for Amazon.com tells EW that presales for that week are the highest of the year — and that Lambert has done better in preorders than any American Idol alum ever.

A lot of strategy goes into picking a release date, of course, as labels try to maneuver around other big artists in an attempt to score a No. 1 album. So why are all these albums arriving at once? Possibly because the sagging economy has shortened the window for holiday foot traffic, hypothesizes Bob Anderson, senior VP of national sales for Jive and RCA, the labels behind Spears’ and Lambert’s efforts. ”In the last couple of years, the holiday selling season has become shorter and shorter,” Anderson says. ”People are waiting for sales and promotional events.” That makes the predawn door-busters on Nov. 27, a.k.a. Black Friday, the perfect time to move copies.

Another reason the date feels so crowded: Rihanna’s album — her first since the double-platinum Good Girl Gone Bad — came out of nowhere. It was announced Oct. 13 via Twitter, and is being rushed to stores just one month later. (The singer has also dominated the news cycle heading into the release date with her string of high-profile interviews for Good Morning America, 20/20, and Glamour, her first comments since being assaulted in February by then boyfriend Chris Brown.)

Once Rihanna was added to the mix, some heavy hitters who were slated to release discs around Nov. 23 pushed their albums up (50 Cent) or back (Jay-Z, Timbaland). But some labels weren’t willing to sacrifice holiday sales, even if that means facing stiff competition. And as these megastars release singles and promote their CDs, that has implications for the entire industry. ”There’s so much traffic with these huge acts,” says Sharon Dastur, program director of NYC Top 40 radio station Z100, which is having trouble slotting all the new music. ”Some smaller artists, they might have great records, but they’re going to get overshadowed.”

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