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"Retail was better prepared than they were for the Backstreet Boys, in that there was much more product in the marketplace."
—Bob Bell, Wherehouse Music
NSYNC: SELL, SELL, SELL
Jive's Pop machine goes into overdrive with 2.5 million debut week
Holy piece count, Batman! This week’s record-shattering chart debut by NSYNC raises the first-week bar by over 100%, with the boy-band wonders moving well over 2.5 MILLION copies of "No Strings Attached" and leaving Jive stablemates Backstreet Boys, whose "Millennium" sold 1.2 million in its first week last year, in the proverbial dust.

Guess you could say they’re worth their weight in Lou Pearlman’s chins.

With "Buy Buy Buy" fever emptying store shelves and stuffing cash registers across the nation, music retailers’ drool cups were understandably filled to overflowing. Those who could tear themselves away from tallying the booty searched for reasons for the windfall.

"Part of it has to be the anticipation that built up because it was delayed," intoned noted Wherehouse Music intoner Bob Bell. "Being tied up in the courts with their label deal and all that, you had the same sort of dynamic that you had last year with the Backstreet Boys, but this time there was more pent-up demand." [Editor’s note: And believe us, Bob knows a thing or two about pent-up demand.]

"The fans were very much aware of the street date," Bell continues. "Jive did a very good job of setting it up well in advance and letting the fans know about it. Also, retail was better prepared than they were for the Backstreet Boys, in that there was much more product in the marketplace."

National Record Mart’s John Grandoni, meanwhile, has his own theories: "Why was it so big? The record had a great single and the setup was beautiful, but even that doesn’t explain the reach that it had. It was a textbook case of doing everything right. You had the MTV weekend, TRL, Rolling Stone —the whole machine was totally NSYNC." [Editor’s note: Haw haw haw. Wanna write for HITS?] "But I can’t tell you why it was this big," Grandoni concludes. "It’s simply a phenomenon. Sort of like my love for small barnyard animals."

Oh, by the way, Arista’s Santana sold a measly quarter-million records again this week (good for #2) and chart debuts Ice Cube (Priority) and Pantera (Elektra) racked up a puny 188k and 184k respectively (good for #3 and #4).

Now it’s all about NSYNC’s second week. Stay tuned.

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