Mary J. Blige Muscles In at No. 2

Mary J. Blige Muscles In at No. 2

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If this is 1999, that must mean another big sales weeks for the Backstreet Boys and more hip-hop and R&B albums scoring big in the Top Ten. For the third week in a row, BSB's Millennium came in at No. 1, selling 242,000 copies, for the week ending Aug. 22, according to SoundScan.

Nevertheless, the boy wonders got a real scare from the pride of Yonkers, N.Y., Mary J. Blige, whose latest, Mary, debuted at No. 2, missing the top spot by just 3,500 copies. It will be interesting to see next week if the Backstreet Boys can hold off Sean "Puffy" Combs, whose second solo album, Forever, hit stores on Tuesday and will makes its official chart debut next week. Normally, a release from a star as big as Puff Daddy would be a sure bet to sail past the 250,000 mark its first week out. But is Puffy's pull still that strong? The first single from Forever, "P.E. 2000," has been noticeably absent from the top of many radio playlists, and the song's video currently comes in at a rather modest No. 36 in MTV's rotation.

Meanwhile, right behind Blige were rappers Mobb Deep, whose album Murda Muzik debuted at No. 3. The week's other notable debut came in the form of the In Too Deep soundtrack, featuring rappers Method Man, Trick Daddy and more Mobb Deep. The album hit at No. 28.

Critics' favorite Macy Gray, who channels Billie Holiday through sultry Seventies funk, continues to make commercial strides. Her album On How Life Is has climbed from No. 143 to No. 97 in two weeks. And Powerman 5000's march toward the top twenty shows no signs of slowing. Thanks to the band's rocking single "When Worlds Collide," Tonight the Stars Revolt! climbed to No. 34.

From the top, it was Millennium, followed by Mary (selling 240,000); Murda Muzik (194,000); Limp Bizkit's Significant Other(166,000); Britney Spears' ...Baby One More Time (133,000); Now That's What I Call Music, Vol. 2 (128,000); Ricky Martin's Ricky Martin (125,000); the soundtrack to Runaway Bride (122,000); Kid Rock's Devil Without a Cause (121,000); and Santana's Supernatural (118,000).