Despite Strong Sales, Pearl Jam Couldn't Sink The Titanic

February 12, 1998 12:00 AM ET

Pearl Jam yields to Titanic.

The good news for Sony Music, one of the record business's biggest players, is that its family oflabels dominate the sales chart for the week ending Feb. 8, according to SoundScan, delivering a rare trifecta; albums No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3.

The bad news is that Pearl Jam's anxiously awaited record, Yield, came in at a disappointing No. 2 and got trounced by a record of orchestral instrumentals; the soundtrack to Titanic. Also riding the Titanic wave is Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love, which features the movie's ballad single and comes in at No. 3. (Just five weeks into 1998, Titanic and Let's Talk About Love have sold a combined 3.9 million records.)

From the top, it was Titanic (selling 588,000 copies), followed by Yield (356,000); Let's Talk About Love (242,000); the Spice Girls' Spiceworld (107,000); Usher's My Way (92,000); Matchbox 20's Yourself or Someone Like You (83,000); Backstreet Boys (80,000); Savage Garden (73,000); Mase's Harlem World (61,000); Will Smith's Bill Willie Style (60,000).

Just two new albums debuted in the top 100, and both were soundtracks. Blues Brothers, featuring songs by Blues Travelers' John Popper, Aretha Franklin and Paul Butterfield, debuted at No. 27, while the Adam Sandler comedy, The Wedding Singer (CultureClub, the Police, Elvis Costello and others) comes in at No. 90.

As for Pearl Jam, while the band's sales status has fallen since its truly blockbuster days of the early '90s, the band also had the misfortune of releasing its new record in the midst of the Titanic phenomena. (Traditionally, February is a slow music sales month and most years Pearl Jam would have had the field to themselves.) If in the coming weeks Yield does not rise to No. 1, it would be the first Pearl Jam album to miss that mark.

Much is riding on Yield since the band's 1996's No Code, which sold 367,000 copies in its first week, was seen by many as a commercial failure, selling just more than one million copies to date. For most bands that constitutes a hit, but the rules are different for Pearl Jam since it holds the single-sales week record, selling 950,000 copies of Vs. in one seven day period back in 1993.

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