Barenaked Ladies Debut At No. 3

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Whoever said a band needs critical acclaim to sell albums obviously hasn't heard of the Barenaked Ladies.

The Toronto-based quintet released its fifth album, Stunt, last Tuesday and have since claimed the No. 3 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, according to SoundScan. With sales of nearly 142,000 albums during its first week, Stunt lived up to expectations -- of at least a few people. Although critics from Details and the Chicago Sun-Times slapped the band with harsh reviews, a spokesman from Reprise Records, the Ladies' label, told JAMTV last weekend that he suspected it would debut in the Top 5. And he was right.

A household name in their homeland, the Ladies sold nearly one million copies of their 1992 debut album, Gordon, and won Canada's 1994 Juno Award for Group of the Year. Phenomenal success eluded the band in America until the single "Brian Wilson" began tearing up the charts earlier this year. Then last Tuesday (July 7), the Ladies performed a free concert in Boston's City Hall Plaza that finally confirmed their entrance into stardom. Band representatives predicted a crowd of 20,000, however, after all heads were counted, 80,000 people showed up to watch the Ladies' quirky rock show.

"We thought only 2,000 people would come out," lead guitarist Ed Robertson told JAMTV on the band's tour bus last weekend. "We were flabbergasted. It was incredible. Boston has been good to us for a couple of years now."

And it's not just Boston. Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago and other various points throughout North America play host to rabid Ladies fans as well. Not only do these die-hards sing along to most songs, but they also carry boxes of dried macaroni to throw when the band croons, "We wouldn't have to eat Kraft dinner" during the song "If I Had $1000000."

The Ladies hope Stunt and this summer's H.O.R.D.E. tour will help their fan base flourish. They are one of four main stage acts on the entire tour, along with Blues Traveler, Ben Harper and Alana Davis. "The H.O.R.D.E. is a good opportunity to play for a lot of people who wouldn't normally come see the Barenaked Ladies," Robertson said. "We're hoping to convert some Blues Traveler and Ben Harper fans, and hope some of our fans will get into them as well."

With the release of Stunt, the Ladies stand to attract a lot of new fans, but the guys in the band said they aren't motivated by fame. "To a certain extent, we've already experienced that level of success. Gordon was really big in Canada," Robertson said. "Now, we're just going to put our energies into the shows and whatever happens is great."

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