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“While there was no runaway hit title that drove business for the holidays all on its own, there was a good well-rounded selection of records that performed very well, such as 8 Mile, Avril Lavigne, J.Lo, Norah Jones, Christina Aguilera and 2Pac.”
——Wherehouse Music's Bob Bell
RETAIL TAKES A HOLIDAY:
SOME YEAR-END WINNERS
Foreshadowing Wild Card Sunday, Sales Stage a Late-Fourth-Quarter Comeback
For beleaguered record retailers, the fourth quarter was pretty naughty, but not everyone got a lump of coal in their Yule stockings.

While estimates of holiday sales were down 10-12% from the previous year, Q4 did produce a number of sales winners, with a final-week rush that was almost—but not quite—enough to overturn what turned out to be a desultory December.

 Says Wherehouse Music’s Bob Bell, “While there was no runaway hit title that drove business for the holidays all on its own, there was a good well-rounded selection of records that performed very well, such as 8 Mile, Avril Lavigne, J.Lo, Norah Jones, Christina Ag­uilera and 2Pac.”

Eminem’s 8 Mile soundtrack took advantage of year-end kudos, Grammy speculation and nonstop airplay for the hit “Lose Yourself,” as well as the publicity surrounding arrested rapper 50 Cent (whose “Wanksta” is one of its big hits) to return to the top of the charts.

Classy Blue Note song stylist Jones and Arista sk8ter grrrl Lavigne continued on their hot streaks through the holidays and into the new year. Expect sales on both to continue unabated following the announcement of the Grammy nominations on Tuesday.

There was plenty of other action at the malls for reigning country superstars such as Mercury Nashville’s Shania Twain, Open Wide/Monument/CRG’s Dixie Chicks and Curb’s Tim McGraw, who maintained their chart momentum in the Top 10, with WB’s Faith Hill not far behind.

Epic dance diva Jennifer Lopez and Jive boy-band alum Justin Timberlake also kept the beat alive during the sales season, riding radio and TV airplay on “Jenny From the Block” and “Cry Me a River,” respectively. And the continual exposure both got on TV entertainment news shows like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood didn’t hurt, either.

Thanks to her big hit single “Beautiful,” the much-maligned  Aguilera continued to confound her critics, with Stripped (RCA) holding strong in the Top 10, while the late Aaliyah’s I Care 4 U (Blackground/Universal) showed surprising staying power.

Rappers also had a happy holdiay, as Goldmind/Elektra’s Missy Elliott, Amaru/Tha Row/Interscope’s 2Pac, Columbia’s Nas, Roc-a-Fella/IDJ’s Jay-Z and Murder Inc./IDJ’s Ja Rule all experienced upward movement.

Rockers were generally conspicuous in their ab­sence, with illegal CD-burning cited by some industryites as the primary culprit. Aside from a pair of best-ofs, Elvis Presley’s RCA compilation 30 #1 Hits and the Rolling StonesVirgin two-CD set Forty Licks, rock & roll was noticeably absent from the upper reaches of the charts. But Columbia’s System of a Down and Epic’s Good Charlotte managed to buck the trend, as their albums turned out to be the rocking stocking stuffers of choice.

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