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Twain Holds Off McGraw

Country rules the pop chart

Shania Twain’s Up! had a monstrous second week, selling
626,000 copies, according to SoundScan, to retain the Number One
slot on the nation’s album chart. In just two weeks, Up!
has sold 1.5 million copies, and the album will likely continue to
register six-figure sales until the stockings are pulled down from
the chimney.

Despite Twain’s daunting second-week numbers, she was nearly
bumped, as Tim McGraw’s Tim McGraw and the Dancehall
Doctors
made cash registers ring a hearty 602,000 times last
week, leaving him at Number Two. While women have ruled Nashville
of late — Shania, Faith and the Dixie Chicks have put up numbers
akin to Garth Brook’s heyday — McGraw’s latest puts him a cut
above the sales level of his fellow guys-in-Stetsons, like Alan
Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, who topped the charts with
sales of 423,000, 235,000 and 338,000, respectively.

McGraw has pop leanings, but he’s always been diligent in
incorporating them into his country. And the payoff has been huge:
His A Place in the Sun debuted Number One with sales of
251,000 in 1999 and the follow-up, Set This Circus Down,
was a Number Two starter with sales of 223,000 last year. Be it the
synergy of a network television special and book, holiday help, or
strong singles, McGraw’s latest raised the bar. And as if there
weren’t enough cheddar rolling into McGraw’s household,

Cry, the latest album by his better half, Faith Hill,
jumped from Number Fifteen to Number Seven with a sales spike from
90,000 to 230,000, likely pushed by her own television special.

Plenty of other newcomers fared well. 2Pac’s Better
Dayz
sold 366,000 copies; down some 50,000 copies from his
last record (which debuted at Number One), but still a hearty
performer. Jennifer Lopez’s This Is Me . . . Then also
sold well, 314,000 copies at Number Six, but unlike her previous
releases, the field wasn’t empty for this album to dominate. Paul
McCartney’s Back in the U.S. actually fared better than
his last studio album, Number Eight with 224,000 sales, perhaps
picking up the gaggle of buyers who have been snatching up two-CD
compilations all year long. Though System of a Down insisted that
Steal This Album! was a genuine new album, not an odds and
ends collection, fans only snatched up 167,000 copies of the record
(Number Fifteen) . . . or perhaps the 55,000 additional fans who
bought last year’s Toxicity during its first week chose to
follow the order issued in the title of their latest.

If rap has carried the industry on its shoulders all year long,
the holidays don’t seem quite as friendly to the genre. In addition
to 2Pac’s sales dip, Snoop Dogg’s Paid tha Cost to Be da
Boss
sold 174,000 at Number Twelve, way down from Tha Last
Meal
, which moved 397,000 two years ago. Busta Rhymes
encountered some of the same buyer indifference selling 62,000
copies of It Ain’t Safe No More at Number Forty-three.

This week’s Top Ten: Shania Twain’s Up!; Tim McGraw’s
Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors; 8 Mile

soundtrack; Now That’s What I Call Music! 11; 2Pac’s
Better Dayz; Jennifer Lopez’s This Is Me . . .
Then
; Faith Hill’s Cry; Paul McCartney’s Back in
the U.S.
; Avril Lavigne’s Let Go; and Christina
Aguilera’s Stripped.

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