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"We were expecting Clay Aiken to sell well and even debut at the top of our chart, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the kind of numbers he would generate on a national basis."
——Jerry Suarez, Virgin Entertainment Group
FEAT OF CLAY
American Idol Runner-Up Sees Solo Bow Debut at #1 with 600k in Sales; Columbia's Jagged Edge, Barbra in Top 5
In this case, video made the radio star a retail Idol.

By any Measure, RCA’s Clay Aiken is the Man. The emerging star, who finished second to labelmate Ruben Studdard on the nationally televised talent show, debuted at #1 this week, his Clive Davis-produced solo bow scoring more than 600k in sales. Def Jam South/IDJ’s Ludacris, last week’s chart-topper, was runner-up.

Virgin Entertainment Group’s Jerry Suarez, who admitted he has yet to actually see the show, but has them all on TiVo, said: "It’s apparently impossible to overestimate the power of the American Idol franchise. We were expecting Clay Aiken to sell well and even debut at the top of our chart, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the kind of numbers he would generate on a national basis. And don’t look for him to die down over the holidays, either. This is a true phenomenon. He’s the skinny one with the spiked hair, right?"

Aiken was one of three newcomers in the Top 10, along with a pair of Columbia Records acts in Jagged Edge (#3) and Barbra Streisand (#5).

"Jagged Edge also had a great first week," added Suarez. "And Barbra Streisand took full advantage of her appearance on Oprah to boost sales far beyond New York and L.A. She’s the one married to James Brolin, right?"

The rest of the Top 10 boasted, counting Aiken, five BMG-distribbed acts for the third week running, including Arista’s OutKast (#4) and Dido (#6), BMG Heritage’s Elvis Presley (#7) and RCA’s Dave Matthews (#9), with Jive’s R. Kelly finishing just out of the running at #11. A&M/Interscope’s Sting (#8) and Buena Vista/Hollywood’s Hilary Duff (#10) rounded out the top tier.

Chart newcomers this week are A&M/Interscope’s Jonny Lang (#17), Columbia/CRG’s Simon & Garfunkel best-of (#24, boosted by the current tour), Columbia/CRG’s Mariah Carey remix album (#25), Universal’s Mushroomhead (#27), Epic’s Travis (#32) and Maverick’s Kill Bill soundtrack (#44).

Universal’s 3 Doors Down (+15%, thanks to airplay on "Here Without You") and Motown’s Michael McDonald (+24%, with continuing exposure for "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough" on the MCI TV spots) both showed double-digit jumps in weekly sales.

Next week, look for Bad Boy/Universal’s Loon, J RecordsRod Stewart, Atlantic’s Rush, Reprise’s Barenaked Ladies, Epic’s Mandy Moore, WSM’s Eagles greatest hits and DreamWorksDave Hollister to make chart bows.

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