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Springsteen Rises to the Top

“The Rising” gives Bruce his first Number One in more than ten years

One week after Toby Keith and his vengeful, bubba-culture boot
rallied a chart-topping 339,000 people to buy his red, white and
blue-draped Unleashed, Bruce Springsteen knocked him down
with a more meditative take on September 11th and its continuing
aftermath. Springsteen’s The Rising, which marks his first
album of new material with the E Street Band in eighteen years,
sold a whopping 525,000 copies, according to SoundScan, to give him
his first Number One album in more than a decade.

A whole host of factors put Bruce back on top: Last year’s
Live in New York City debuted in the Top Ten with sales of
114,000, suggesting that fans were hungry for the E Street Sound,
particularly after a successful reunion tour. There’s also
Springsteen’s decision to promote the album in the boy band manner
(which has since been co-opted by U2), popping up tirelessly in
numerous television appearances. There’s a strong lead single in
the title track.

And then there’s the music. Neil Young once said that
Harvest put him in the middle of the road, thus he headed
for a ditch. After selling more than 15 million copies of Born
in the U.S.A.
, Springsteen was to the Eighties what the
Beatles were to the Sixties. A solo artist despite the E Street
clothes, he wasn’t capable of breaking up, so he headed for a
ditch. Tunnel of Love, peppered with sonic snapshots from
Springsteen’s life, was one of the best-selling disappointments of
all time, moving 3 million copies. By turning his writer’s eye
inward, Springsteen essentially turned his fans in the opposite
direction. His 1992 dual releases Human Touch and

Lucky Town revealed a Bruce happy in love and as a father.
They dropped in at Number Two and Three, respectively, before
disappearing. His last set of new songs, 1996’s The Ghost of
Tom Joad
, is to this day the only Springsteen album that
failed to register platinum status (actually, it never even got to
gold). Painted in Guthrie and Steinbeckian colors, the album was
perhaps too pure a shot of social commentary for his fans’ delicate
palates.

Armed with the promotion, the single and the successful reunion,
The Rising‘s real drive is still derived from his ability
to look outward and connect with those fans. A culture needing
coddling got its hug from The Rising, and the sales are a
welcome-back embrace and a fatted calf supper fitting a prodigal
son.

Perhaps most telling about this week’s chart is just how handily
The Rising stomped Linkin Park’s remix album,
Reanimation, which debuted at a strong Number Two, with
sales of 270,000. Hard to use a collection of rejiggied tracks as a
yardstick, but the rap-metal subgenre has taken three big swings
this summer, with Reanimation, Korn’s

Untouchables and Papa Roach’s Lovehatetragedy.
Sales in the hundreds of thousands are hardly the stuff of
strikeouts, but the numbers aren’t remotely comparable to each of
the three bands’ prior efforts, more resembling weak groundouts to
the second baseman.

If sagging anger management sales and Springsteen’s toppling of
Toby Keith wasn’t enough proof that — at least in music — anger
is on the out, one need only look at another pair of debuts further
down the charts. The once-platinum angry guys in Filter mustered
32,000 sales for The Amalgamut (Number Thirty-two), while
the quieter Beth Orton sold only 4,000 copies fewer of
Daybreaker (Number Forty). Actually, a better comparison
might be how thoroughly Filter were clobbered by Eighties hard
rockers, Def Leppard, whose X debuted at Number Eleven
with sales of 72,000; a good melody (with or without hairspray) can
stick with you all day long, a bad mood tends to pass.

Next week should be interesting. The XXX soundtrack
looks to have the shot at shuffling things up top, but soundtracks,
which are released days prior to their respective films, tend to
make their biggest sales splash in the second week of release.
Springsteen has more promotional duty and an anticipated fall tour
on the docket, which could make The Rising his first
blockbuster in more than a decade. Afterall, it’s already topped
Joad‘s sales, and is halfway to besting Human
Touch
and Lucky Town. There have been too many false
starts over the past couple of years to cite The Rising as
a field general in a return-to-rock battle. But until the general
public expresses an interest in the genre again, Springsteen’s
success is still a welcome return.

This week’s Top Ten: Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising;
Linkin Park’s Reanimation; Nelly’s Nellyville;
Now That’s What I Call Music! 10; Eminem’s The Eminem
Show
; Toby Keith’s Unleashed; the Dave Matthews
Band’s Busted Stuff; Avril Lavigne’s Let Go;
Amerie’s All I Have; and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ By
the Way
.

In This Article: Bruce Springsteen

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