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"Monica absolutely outpaced our projections. RCA/J’s setup was great."
——Virgin Entertainment Group’s Jerry Suarez

TWO SMOKING Js!!!

Metallica and Radiohead Keep Rock Near the Top, but Luther and Monica are #1, #2
His vital signs remain positive, as do the sales figures for his new album.

The prognosis is excellent for Luther Vandross, as the ailing soul legend spends his second straight week at #1. That Vandross has been joined at the top of the HITS Top 50 Albums chart by fellow J Records soulmate Monica, who soared to a #2 debut, makes the moment that much sweeter for Luther and the music industry’s top practicing song doctor, Clive Davis.

Virgin Entertainment Group’s Jerry Suarez could barely contain his excitement after his personal cut man stopped the bleeding: "Monica absolutely outpaced our projections. RCA/J’s setup was great. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve gotta get stitched up."

J’s classy Brit Annie Lennox kept the heat on, dropping just one spot to #6 in her second week, while American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson’s RCA bow finished #10. In all, His Cliveness’ RCA Music Group boasts three albums in the Top Six, and four in the Top 10.

"With Luther having another terrific week, as well as Annie Lennox, RCA/J is just on fire right now," added Suarez. "Clive is my idol."

Elektra/EEG headbangers Metallica had another solid week, easily capturing the #3 chart position, while Capitol’s Radiohead, the world’s reigning art-rock band, snagged #4.

Three perennials held serve, as Shady/Aftermath/Interscope’s 50 Cent notched #5, Wind-up’s Evanescence struck another blow for the rock realm at #7 and Blue Note’s Norah Jones took #8. Def Jam South/UMG Strx’s. 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack rolled to a #9 finish.

In all, Herr Rolf Schmidt-Holtz’s BMG snagged half of the week’s 10 best-selling LPs (including Evanescence), which should give the German conglom added leverage in its current negotiations to merge with WMG. For the record, EMI and UMG logged two apiece, with recently blazing WMG taking the remaining slot.

Other chart newcomers included Roadrunner/IDJ metal gods Type O Negative (#29), Atlantic’s Reggae Gold 2003 (#40) and Triple Crown/Razor & Tie’s Long Island emo quartet Brand New (#42). WB’s Trapt (#41), DreamWorks’ Okie rockers All-American Rejects (#49) and SRC/Universal Mississippi rapper David Banner (#50) all re-entered.

Jive’s Justin Timberlake showed the biggest single gain of the week, moving #48-34, on an 11% sales gain.

Next week, it’s a battle of the killer B thrushes, as Columbia’s Beyonce Knowles and Maverick’s Michelle Branch will dominate the chart.

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