Alicia Fends Off Aaliyah

Debut album spends third week on top

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Go ahead and shellac Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor as the year's strongest rookie release. Keys' debut held the top spot for the second straight week and spent its third week at Number One with sales of 221,749, according to SoundScan. More impressive is the consistent sales of A Minor, which suffered a sales drop of merely sixty-four copies from the previous week. After a month in stores, the album is sitting a week's worth of sales away from 1 million.

Elsewhere on the charts were debuts aplenty, though hardly the type to create ripples. Aaliyah's Aaliyah sold an impressive 186,893 copies in its first week to debut at Number Two, though the number still falls short of the 206,000 first-week figure registered by the Aaliyah-heavy Romeo Must Die soundtrack, released last year. Further down, Foxy Brown's Broken Silence and Kurupt's Space Boogie: Smoke Oddity both registered solid sales for Top Ten debuts, but their combined sales were still shy of A Minor's tally. And international R&B phenom Craig David and his Born to Do It made a strong debut (Number Eleven), but the sales of under 80,000 don't quite put him in the same league as established R&B Yanks.

There was little other of interest to report on the charts, though D12's Devil's Night squeaked past 1 million in sales in its fifth week of release.

Which brings us to next week's possibilities. 'N Sync's Celebrity hit record stores yesterday, sans the publicity tsunami that pushed last year's No Strings Attached to a first-week sales record. That Celebrity won't break their mark of 2.4 million first week sales seems a given. While the lead single in the spring of 2000, "Bye Bye Bye," was tearing up the charts weeks before the release of No Strings, there is no such positive bellwether this time around. Celebrity's lead single, "Pop," is sitting at Number Forty-seven on the charts in its ninth week of release, trailing not only pop hits by the likes of Usher, Sugar Ray and Janet, but a nearly year-old country tune by Lee Ann Womack ("I Hope You Dance").

The greater question is not whether "the Fab Five" will top their previous mark, but can they still handily beat the 1 million first week sales milestone? The Backstreet Boys' Black and Blue showed a markedly smaller first-week than No Strings last fall but still mustered a staggering 1.8 million copies sold. Since then boy power efforts by 98 Degrees and O-Town have fizzled. On the other hand, 'N Sync have already started a promotional whirl with their Popoddysey Tour. Then, on the other, other hand there's the curse of the ironic "pop"-reference that has cut down other titans including U2 and Duran Duran. Also not working on the boys' favor is the arrival of the seventh Now That's What I Call Music album, certain to undermine sales amongst those whose purchase-power comes in the form of a weekly allowance.

We'll just have to wait 'til next week . . .

This week's Top Ten: Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor (221,749 copies sold); Aaliyah's Aaliyah (186,893); D12's Devil's Night (142,958); Staind's Break the Cycle (133,306); Foxy Brown's Broken Silence (130,688); P. Diddy and the Bad Boy Family's The Saga Continues . . . (129,417); Destiny's Child's Survivor (101,046); Jagged Edge's Jagged Little Thrill (94,141); Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory (86,229); and Kurupt's Space Boogie: Smoke Oddity (83,893).