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"Mariah Carey had a simply terrific debut, taking full advantage of all of the TV exposure she had last week."
——Jerry Suarez, Virgin Entertainment Group
MARIAH TURNS ON THE CHARM
Country Cohorts Twain and McGraw Rule as Sales Take Post-Holiday Dip; Mariah Carey #3
It’s official—Mariah Carey has the monkey, along with the Glitter, off her back.

Charmbracelet (MonarC/IDJ), the once-troubled diva’s first album in her new imprint deal with Lyor Cohen’s powerhouse Island Def Jam label group, made an impressive #3 bow on sales just south of 240k. Mariah’s strong first week was due in large part to a masterful TV blitz that had her featured on Oprah and Dateline NBC on successive days, just as the album was hitting stores. That Matt Lauer sure can sell records.

Virgin Entertainment Group’s Jerry Suarez took some time out from shilling for the Salvation Army in a Santa suit to exclaim: "Although it would be hard to top last week’s sales burst, we’re still seeing very solid sales figures from the top selling artists. Mariah Carey had a simply terrific debut, taking full advantage of all of the TV exposure she had last week."

Carey was bested only by a pair of country blockbusters in Shania Twain (Mercury Nashville), #1 for the third consecutive week, and #2 Tim McGraw (Curb), who edged out Mariah by 10k. Rounding out the Top Five were a pair of albums by the 11th edition of the ever-popular Now series (UTV) and Shady/Interscope/UMG Strx’s soundtrack to the Eminem-starring 8 Mile.

Coming in at #6 was Arista wunderkind Avril Lavigne, who, like "fellow" newcomer Norah JonesBlue Note bow (#17 this week on a 7% sales increase) and the Energizer Bunny, keeps on going, and going and going. Behind Avril were Jennifer Lopez (Epic) (#7) with her second week on the chart, the posthumously percolating 2Pac (Amaru/Tha Row/Interscope) (#8), Dixie Chicks (Open Wide/Columbia/CRG) (#9), and TV-propelled "popera" singer Josh Groban (143/Reprise) (#10), vaulting 19 spots on a 37% sales jump. Only Arista Nashville country star Alan Jackson’s Christmas album (47-31), with a 44% increase, had a larger boost.

Other double-digit sales boosts were registered by Philips blind opera singer Andrea Bocelli (37-25, +10%), UTV’s Elton John greatest hits collection (40-27, +12%) and Arista sax man Kenny G’s holiday offering (46-33, +24%).

Added Suarez: "While Shania continues to see big sales, this week’s other big winners were upper-demo perennials Norah Jones and Elton John."

Chart newcomers include UTV’s Now That’s What I Call Xmas (#18), Groban’s new concert album/DVD on 143/Reprise (#29) and American Gramaphone’s Christmas perennial Mannheim Steamroller (#41).

Next week, we’ll see how Arista diva Whitney Houston fares with her just-released Just Whitney.

"Mariah’s big debut should also bode well for Whitney’s new record," concluded Suarez, though at this point no one was listening…or reading, for that matter.

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