'N Sync Set Second Best Mark

Celebrity sells 1.8 million copies in first week

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In a summer so far void of a sales hero, 'N Sync's Celebrity proved that the kids are indeed alright, and capable of delivering some youthful star power among sagging sales. The group's third album sold 1,879,955 copies in its first week, according to SoundScan, to handily top the charts and seize the mark for the second highest debut ever, trailing only its 2000 release, No Strings Attached, which scanned an eye-popping 2.4 million copies. The number was not only enough to best the second best boy band offering (the Backstreet Boys moved 1.5 million copies of Black and Blue last year), but also Eminem's juggernaut, The Marshall Mathers LP, which previously held the second best mark with 1.7 million copies sold. Celebrity's first-week sales figure is also more than a million higher than the Dave Matthews Band's Everyday, which, until this week, was this year's leader.

If the half-million sales slide from their last effort suggests a decrease in the group's popularity, think again, as 'N Sync's sales are down proportionally with the rest of the offerings in a summer that has been full of sorry-ass sales across the board. It's a sales ebb underscored by the rest of this week's field, one which boasts only four albums with six-figure sales or better. Celebrity bested Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor (which settled in at Number Two) by more than a million and a half copies, and Keys' breakout debut managed to top the next best offering, D12's Devil's Night by more than 80,000 units.

The sequel to the multi-million selling Violator compilation scratched its way into the Top Ten, with sales just shy of 80,000. And there are still more than 70,000 Cake listeners out there, a sufficient legion to land the band a Number Thirteen debut with Comfort Eagle. Also, Neil Diamond fans, who haven't heard new Neil Diamond tunes in a quarter century, turned out in droves to pick up 67,000 copies of his new Three Chord Opera, which debuted at Number Fifteen.

As for the week's sales milestones, Songs in A Minor passed 1 million in sales in its fifth week of release, a figure also achieved by Missy Elliott's Miss E . . . So Addictive, which took twice as long to do so. Janet Jackson's All for You stretched past 2 million copies sold and Sade's Lovers Rock moved past the 3 million mark.

Next week should be a pre-Fab showdown, as Celebrity takes the standard second-week hit on the same chart as the debut of the seventh volume of Now That's What I Call Music!, featuring hits from Destiny's Child, Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync themselves.

This week's Top Ten: 'N Sync's Celebrity (1,879,955 copies sold); Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor (202,840); D12's Devil's Night (122,874); Staind's Break the Cycle (122,480); Aaliyah's Aaliyah (99,344); Destiny's Child's Survivor (91,025); P. Diddy and the Bad Boy Family's The Saga Continues . . . (90,179); Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory (89,061); Jagged Edge's Jagged Little Thrill (80,071); and Violator Volume 2 (78,819).