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"I'm pleasantly surprised by both Mariah's first week and Whitney's first day."
——Jerry Suarez, Virgin Entertainment Group
TROUBLED DIVAS BOUNCE BACK
Arista’s Whitney Houston and MonarC/Island/IDJ’s Mariah Carey Duel it Out for Sales, Media Attention
Two of the biggest pop divas of all time are back to try to put their well-chronicled travails behind them and reclaim their thrones. So far, so good.

The release of Arista superstar Whitney Houston’s Just Whitney yesterday comes just a week after Mariah Carey’s MonarC/Island/IDJ bow, Charmbracelet, which debuted at #3 on sales of about 240k, the second-highest first week of her career. Her only higher chart entry was with 1999’s Rainbow album, which nabbed 323k in first-week sales. Who needs Derek Jeter anyway?

Both female crooners are looking to TV and a sympathetic press to resurrect their tarnished public images. Thanks to a high-visibility media campaign which included a controversial interview with Diane Sawyer alongside husband Bobby Brown and a televised performance at New York’s Lincoln Center, Houston’s new album appears headed to a total very similar to Carey. Based on first-day sales reports from retailers nationwide, Just Whitney is expected to also sell in the 200k range. Hey, it beats smuggling herb in from Hawaii.

Houston’s personal problems and admitted drug use have placed Whitney’s new album, her first after re-upping with Arista for a reported $100 million, in the spotlight. The Sawyer piece has generated plenty of water cooler conversation both pro and con, but no one can deny it has everyone talking. This is Houston’s first album since mentor Clive Davis, who originally signed her to the label, gave way to Antonio "L.A." Reid at Arista. Her previous two albums were May 2000’s Greatest Hits album and ’96’s The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack.

Virgin Entertainment Group's Jerry Suarez was feeling positively chipper: "Whitney really surprised us. She did much better first-day numbers than we had anticipated, considering the press was so bad leading up to street date. But it looks like fans have ignored that and given both of them another shot. I'm pleasantly surprised by both Mariah's first week and Whitney's first day." 

Like Houston, Carey spilled all to Dateline NBC’s Matt Lauer and Oprah Winfrey, appeared on an MTV special and performed this morning on NBC’s Today show live from the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

Added Suarez: "Whitney and Mariah are obviously bringing people back and you can attribute that directly to their TV exposure. They seem to be accepting the sincerity of both of their stories. It's just another example of how TV is affecting music sales more than ever. Now will you please excuse me? I think the Wayne Brady show is about to come on." 

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