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Shania Ups the Ante

Crossover queen lands her first Number One

Shania Twain’s Up! sold 874,000 copies according to
SoundScan, easily topping the charts this holiday week. It’s a
remarkable start for Twain, though the album will need iron legs to
match the success of its predecessor, 1999’s Come on Over,
the best-selling record ever by a solo female artist with
17 million copies sold to date. That said, Up! managed one
milestone that Come on Over never did and likely never
will. Twain’s last record never reached Number One, coming as only
as close as Number Two, when it debuted on the charts 3,000 copies
behind Mase’s Double Up.

Predictably, with the holidays approaching, there were plenty of
other strong newcomers on the charts. Now That’s What I Call
Music! 11
continues the popular series’ success, though its
numbers seem to have peaked a year ago. The compilation sold
316,000 copies at Number Two. Ja Rule’s The Last
Temptation
jumped in at Number Four with sales of 238,000,
Matchbox Twenty’s More Than You Think You Are sold 178,000
at Number Six and Audioslave — the new supergroup composed of
Chris Cornell and three-fourths of Rage Against the Machine —
moved 162,000 of their self-titled debut at Number Seven.

Debuts were scattered beyond the Top Ten too, though not all
were smiling. Toni Braxton’s More Than a Woman sold 98,000
copies at Number Thirteen, down eleven slots and 100,000 copies
from 2000’s Heat. Mudvayne’s End of All Things to
Come
sold 79,000 at Number Seventeen, George Harrison’s
posthumous release, Brainwashed, landed a slot lower with
sales of 74,000, rapper Talib Kweli sold 68,000 copies of

Quality — further establishing his place above the
underground — and Craig David continues to fare better on the
other side of the pond than in the U.S., as Slicker Than Your
Average
rolled in at Number Thirty-two with sales of
54,000.

With the wash of new arrivals that flood record stores every
Tuesday, the charts aren’t particularly friendly to the underdog
looking for a back door. The most prominent chart movement among
non-debut albums tends to be the quick exit. U2’s new greatest hits
package, to cite one example, fell from Number Three to Number
Forty-nine in just three weeks of release. New albums are replacing
new albums weekly, like shark teeth, but only Avril Lavigne’s
Let Go and The Eminem Show have displayed any
long-term bite. And once the wrapping paper settles in late
December, the rest of winter could be even colder, as buyers head
back home.

Next weeks charts will feature the new teeth released yesterday,
Super Tuesday. Sum 41, Snoop Dogg, System of a Down, Paul McCartney
and Tim McGraw all pushed new albums into stores, and they will
likely push out this week’s newcomers . . . with the possible
exception of Shania. Come on Over mustered eight
hit singles; that’s a Thriller-like tally. And her savvy
decision to release a double version of Up!, one CD of pop
mixes, the other of “country” versions, only underscores her
understanding of the market. The album can sleepwalk past 1 million
copies, but the set’s more important barometric role may be further
down the role. Despite the industry’s reluctance to return to
yesteryear and emphasize the sale of individual songs, it’s still
all about singles. Customers are a brighter set than they’ve been
credited for, and if the CD doesn’t meet $20 worth of value,
they’ll download the meat and leave the fat behind. If Up!
can’t come close to matching Come on Over‘s song-by-song
weight, grab some kindling and a blanket.

This week’s Top Ten: Shania Twain’s Up!; Now That’s
What I Call Music! 11
; the 8 Mile soundtrack; Ja
Rule’s The Last Temptation; Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 2:
The Gift and the Curse
; Matchbox Twenty’s More Than You
Think You Are
; Audioslave’s Audioslave; Missy
Elliott’s Under Construction; Avril Lavigne’s Let
Go
; and Justin Timberlake’s Justified.

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