Sync Or Swim : Chart Battle Begins

N Sync put the heat on the Backstreet Boys

A bubble gum battle royal is shaping up on the music sales charts betweenFlorida's Backstreet Boys and Florida's 'N Sync boys. 'N Sync's self-titledrelease crashes the top ten this week, landing right behind the perennial topten (and self-titled) smash from the Backstreet Boys.

'N Sync (that'd be Justin, JC, Lance, Joey and Chris) are riding the successof their second top forty hit, "Tearin' Up My Heart." But they still have aways to go before catching BSB (Howie D., Kevin, A.J., Nick and Brian, ofcourse.) That act's record has already sold three million copies this year,making it the third-biggest seller of '98.

Meanwhile, three boys from New York City boasting a different flavor-the Beasties-hang on to the No. 1 album in the country for the third week in a row. Hello Nasty sold 243,000 copies for the week ending August 2, according to SoundScan. Not one new record debuted in the top twenty for the week. (Mary J. Blige's live release, Tour, came closest, bowing at No.21.)

One top ten act pulled off a rare accomplishment this week: actuallyincreasing sales over the previous week. In today's increasingly crowdedmarketplace, records often debut with huge sales and then slowly taper offweek-by-week as consumers lose interest. (For instance since Maxwell'sEmbrya debuted at No. 3 five weeks ago, the album has quietly slid toNo. 27.) But the Barenaked Ladies, powered by their single "One Week" and aheadlining slot on the summer H.O.R.D.E. tour, watch album sales for theirStunt make a chart U-turn. The record debuted at No. 3 one month agoand this week climbs back up from No. 10 to No. 6; a strong sign that the bandmay have some lasting power.

From the top, it was Hello Nasty, followed by the soundtrack to Armageddon (selling 219,000 copies); the soundtrack to City of Angels (119,000); JD's Life in 1472 (105,000); the soundtrack to Dr.Dolittle (104,000); the Barenaked Ladies' Stunt (103,000); Brandy'sNever Say Never (92,000); Backstreet Boys (90,000); 'NSync (86,000); and Will Smith's Big Willie Style (78,000).