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"The expectations for Shania were sky-high, and she absolutely hit our forecasts on the nose. It was a monster debut for a bona fide superstar. And there were so many other titles as well."
——Fred Meyer’s Brian Stevens

TWAIN HITS MARK!!!

Newcomers Now 11, Ja Rule, Matchbox Twenty and Audioslave Hit the Top 10

Things are finally looking UP! for the record business, just in time for the holidays.

Crossover superstar Shania Twain’s new Mercury Nashville album stormed retail this week, entering at #1 with an impressive total of 862k sold for her collection of country and pop mixes produced by husband Mutt Lange.

Fred Meyer’s Brian Stevens (or is that Brian Stevens’ Fred Meyer?) slipped on a black-leather jumpsuit, hopped on his Harley and gurgled: "The expectations for Shania were sky-high, and she absolutely hit our forecasts on the nose. It was a monster debut for a bona fide superstar. And there were so many other titles as well."

Twain was one of five new records in the Top 10, which also included UTV’s Now 11 compilation at #2, Murder Inc./IDJ rapper Ja Rule at #4, Atlantic’s Matchbox Twenty at #5 and Epic/Interscope rock supergroup Audioslave at #6.

Added Stevens: "Now 11, Ja Rule and Matchbox Twenty all had great weeks. Audioslave was very strong out-of-the-box."

The holdovers in the Top 10 were Shady/Interscope/UMG Sdtx.’s 8 Mile soundtrack (#3), Roc-A-Fella/IDJ’s Jay-Z (#7), Goldmind/Elektra/EEG’s Missy Elliott (#8), Arista’s Avril Lavigne (#9) and Aftermath/Interscope’s Eminem (#10).

Other albums debuting in the Top 50 include Arista’s Toni Braxton (#15), Epic’s Mudvayne (#19), Capitol’s George Harrison (#20), Rawkus/MCA’s Talib Kweli (#21), Wildstar/Atlantic’s Craig David (#30) and Arista’s Kenny G (#40), while Flawless/Geffen’s Puddle of Mudd reenters at #42 on the strength of the hit single, "She Hates Me."

Looking at the upwardly mobile, Columbia’s Tony Bennett/k.d. lang collaboration led the way with a 33% boost in sales, while 143/Reprise’s Josh Groban (+24%), DreamWorks Nashville’s Toby Keith (+23%), Arista Nashville country star Alan Jackson’s Christmas album (+17%) and Blue Note’s relentless Norah Jones (+11%) all showed double-digit increases.

Concluded Stevens: "We’re getting ready for Thanksgiving weekend, with Tupac, Jennifer Lopez, Sum 41 and a host of other records all hitting the streets. Now will you please pass the cranberry sauce?"

Also streeting were Priority/Capitol’s Snoop Dogg, Curb’s Tim McGraw, J’s Busta Rhymes, Capitol’s Paul McCartney live album, Cash Money/Universal’s Baby and MCA’s the Roots.

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