Montgomery tops charts

The surprise pop music success story of the new year has to be Atlantic country star John Michael Montgomery, whose second album, “Kickin’ It Up,” did just that this week, moving to the top of SoundScan’s weekly album sales survey.

According to numbers obtained by an industry source, the title sold almost 109,000 copies, up from 94,000 last week, and moved from No. 3 to the peak position.

“I Swear,” the first single from “Kickin’ It Up,” was recently No. 1 on the country singles chart for two consecutive weeks, a rare feat for the genre. Also , “Kickin’ It Up” was the only album this week to sell more than 100,000 units.

Seven of the remaining top 10 titles also performed well, including Jive’s R. Kelly, whose “12 Play” was the period’s largest sales gainer, moving from No. 9 to 5 on sales of 90,000; American Music Award winner Toni Braxton, whose self-titled Arista debut moved from No. 10 to 7; and folky Counting Crows, whose Geffen bow “August and Everything After” visits the top 10 for the first time, at No. 10.

The highest debut was “Under the Pink,” the second solo effort from Atlantic singer/pianist Tori Amos. Her sophomore set enters the tally at No. 12 on sales of 65,000. Her 1992 debut, “Little Earthquakes,” was certified gold for sales of 500,000.

Other notable entries include: young Jive rap act Casual, at No. 108 with its “Fear Itself” album; Arista-signed country band Blackhawk, at No. 115, with its self-titled debut; “Dookie,” the first major-label release from Warner Bros. underground faves Green Day, at No. 127; and “Steppin’ Out,” the latest recording by the suddenly hip again Tony Bennett, at No. 128.

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