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STAR, ARI IN LAST-MINUTE SALES BATTLE

With the trophy-nabbing A Star Is Born ST and Ariana Grande's all-platform monster thank u, next vying for the #1 spot on this week's chart, it's a no-holds-barred sales grudge match.

Interscope's Star and Republic's thank u were both priced at $3.99 at Amazon, and then Star went down to $2.99. Ariana's set, now in its fourth week, hasn't been out long enough to list below $3.99.

The Gaga-driven ST is also $6.99 at iTunes (where it's currently #1). Grande's latest is full price ($11.99) at iTunes, where it commands the #6 spot.

Star is getting an additional boost from an expanded cut that's returning to theaters (with 12 minutes of additional footage, we're told). The film has grossed $211m U.S. and about $425m worldwide. It's available on demand via iTunes and other outlets, typically at $5.99 to rent and $19.99 to own. For DVD and Blu-ray pricing, check your local big box (and look into streaming; it's very convenient).

But Ari's just announced a 50% off sale at her online store, where you can pick up the digital album for $6 or the CD plus digital for just a buck more. Of course, you could also buy a T-shirt, tote, wristlet, fanny pack, sock pack, shotglass set or other pricier merch item and get a bundled download of thank u.

Oh, and there's a little Ariana Spotify contest, as outlined here:

Will these maneuvers give one or the other of these behemoths the edge for the top chart spot this week? What sales shenanigans await us in the future? How freakin' cool would we look wearing that fanny pack? The answers to some of these questions are sure to be forthcoming.

In a possibly related story, prior reports that Monte Lipman and John Janick had been seen hawking records out of the trunks of their Bentleys turned out to be a weed-fueled hallucination by a HITS editor on her "lunch break."

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