Van Halen Debut At No. 4, Can't Top "Titanic"

Two more heavyweights, one from the world of rap and one from rock, took their best shot at knocking off Titanic as the country's best-selling record, and both came up way short.

Master P posse member C-Murder's Life or Death debuts at No. 3 for the week ending March 22, selling 197,000 copies, according to SoundScan. Right behind C-Murder was Van Halen's Van Halen 3, featuring the veteran rock band's new lead singer, Gary Cherone, formerly of Extreme. By band standards the record sold a solid, if unspectacular, 190,000 copies. But Titanic still reigns, remaining No. 1 for the 11th week in a row. (Week 12 is all but guaranteed, considering the post-Oscar sales boost the record will inevitably receive.)

Other artists making noise on the sales chart include Janet Jackson's Velvet Rope, which jumped from No. 38 to No. 28 in the last two weeks. News of her upcoming summer tour, accompanied by a prime time appearance on the Larry King show, no doubt helped drive up sales. Elsewhere, funk/punk band Limp Bizkit's Three Dollar Bill cracks the top 200 for the first time, coming in at No. 185.

From the top it was Titanic (selling 455,000 copies), followed by Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love (200,000); Life Or Death; Van Halen 3; Madonna's Ray of Light (168,000); Savage Garden (123,000); Eric Clapton's Pilgrim (122,000); Backstreet Boys (97,000); K-Ci & Jo Jo's Love Always (89,000); and the soundtrack to Ice Cube's Player's Club (85,000).

Meanwhile, what a difference a few months has made for Warner Bros. Records. Thanks to a dry spell of hits, the perennial industry powerhouse spent much of '96, '97 and early '98 reeling, posting lackluster sales numbers and laying off employees. Finally though, its roster of superstars has come to the rescue, with Madonna, Eric Clapton and now Van Halen each posting a top-five debut in the past three weeks. This week the record giant finds all three albums in the Top 10, something the label hasn't seen in quite a while.