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ATTACK OF THE FIRST-WEEK MILLIONAIRES

BSB, Bizkit, Britney, Brooks and Creed
Seek Elusive Q4 Millions
It was a little more than 18 months ago that NSYNC's No Strings Attached sold 2.4 million in its first week of release.

Now, in the midst of a faltering economy, a million in first-week sales seems as unattainable as Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.

Nonetheless, three former members of the millionaires' club are hoping history repeats itself this month. A Backstreet Boys hits package streeted this Tuesday, Britney Spears hits next week, followed the week later by Garth Brooks. Wind-up's Creed hopes to join the club the week after that. In addition, one-time million sellers Limp Bizkit have a remix album coming out in December.

The Backstreet Boys' last album, Black & Blue, made its debut at 1.6 million last Nov. 21. The group's new Jive album, The Hits: Chapter 1, which includes one new track, the multi-format hit single "Drowned," is not expected to flirt with the million mark. It should battle Michael Jackson to the end for the #1 spot, with sales in the 300-350k range, while Lenny Kravitz and Enrique Iglesias will be the other big debuts.

Spears' new Jive album, Britney, arrives a mere 12 months after her last LP, Oops!I Did It Again, which moved 1.3 million its first week on the street. The new disc, reportedly more mature, was preceded by the Prince-like single, "I'm A Slave 4 U" which she introduced on the MTV VMAs by handling a snake and talking to Mick Jagger (not at the same time). In the current climate, retailers are hoping the new album can sell upwards of three-quarters of a million for its first seven days.

The dark horse in the race to seven figures is Capitol Nashville's Brooks, who founded the millionaires' club when his two-CD Double Live bowed at 1.1 million copies in Nov. '98, marking the first time an album surpassed the million mark in first-week sales. By contrast, his 1999 album In the Life of Chris Gaines, which introduced his alter ego on a soundtrack to a movie that never got made, sold a total of 1.1 million copies.

The new Scarecrow is Brooks' first studio album since '97's Sevens. The promotion for the album got off to a false start when the first single, the rollicking "Beer Run," was replaced after the events of Sept. 11 with the more appropriate "Wrapped Up in You," a Country radio hit. The label is putting three million albums on shelves.

"Never, ever underestimate the power of Garth Brooks," said an industry source, though retailers insist the album will likely score in the high six figures.

Limp Bizkit, whose Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water sold 1 million copies in its first week of release last November, return with a Flip/Interscope remix collection Dec. 4.

Creed's new Wind-up album, Weathered, slated for a Nov. 20 release, may well have the best shot of the bunch to do a million in its opening week. Its last LP, Human Clay, debuted with 315k its first seven days before going on to sell more than 10 million OTC to date.

Even if they don't top the million mark, the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and Garth Brooks should each score big in their first weeks. The Backstreet Boys will duel Michael Jackson for #1, while the so-far-unconfirmed Nov. 13 release of Interscope's America: A Tribute to Heroes could put it in a horse race with Brooks.

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