Over the summer, when Susan Boyle announced her sophomore album The Gift would come out around the same time as Taylor Swift's Speak Now, Vulture was psyched. It was, it seemed clear, Boyle standing up, dusting herself off, and getting right back on the metaphorical horse of record-sales battles, a field in which she'd suffered a heartbreaking loss. As you may recall, Swift's Fearless barely squeezed by Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream for the 2009 title. But Susan was unafraid.
Well, the time for battle is now: On next week's chart, it'll either be Taylor Swift's monster Speak Now at No. 1, or Boyle's brand-new, untested The Gift. Current industry predictions have Speak Now dropping down from a million-plus to the more fathomable 250,000 in its third week — which would put it neck and neck with the numbers The Gift is slated to do in its debut. That may be disappointing for Boyle partisans: Not only did Dream do 700,000-plus in its first week, but according to our back-of-the-envelope calculations, a 250,000-copy debut is a lot less than a million-copy debut. But take heart: Susan Boyle has been the underdog her whole life. Playing from behind is just where she feels comfortable. This ain't over by a long shot.