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‘Pill’ nears record as RIAA stats detail ’96

Alanis Morissette continued her run toward becoming the bestselling debut artist in history, as her “Jagged Little Pill” closed 1996 with more than 14 million copies in the marketplace.

The Canadian singer’s Maverick Records disc moved a whopping 1 million albums per month during the year while closing in on Boston’s self-titled Columbia Records debut, which, at 15 million units sold, stands as the industry’s bestselling debut disc. In 1995, “Pill” sold 4 million units from June to December.

Morissette remains tied for the time being with Atlantic Records foursome Hootie & the Blowfish for second-place honors in the album debut annals.

According to the year-end tallies released Friday by the Recording Industry Assn. of America covering domestic album shipments, 158 albums were certified platinum (1 million units), down from 191 in 1995. Platinum singles jumped to 31 in 1996, up from 26 last year.

Multiplatinum certifications fell to 234 albums, compared to 294 in 1995.

But gold (500,000 units) discs increased to 317, compared to 278 albums that reached that plateau in 1995. Gold singles action was equally brisk, with 91 discs earning certification at that level, up from last year’s tally of 74.

Dion falling into second

Songstress Celine Dion earned the distinction of becoming the year’s second-highest-selling female artist behind Morissette, with the 7 million unit certification of her Epic Records disc “Falling Into You.”

Dion’s disc, which has been a mainstay at the upper levels of the nation’s sales charts since its March release, has boasted two platinum singles and has benefited from substantial radio airplay.

The Fab Four continued to prove a consumer appetite exists for their music, as the Beatles “Anthology, Vol. 1” crossed the 4 million unit threshold. But because it is a two-disc set, the RIAA certified the compilation at 8 million units, making it the year’s highest-selling.

Three platinum singles helped drive Arista’s “Waiting to Exhale” soundtrack to the 7 million unit plateau and by doing so made it the top-selling soundtrack of the year.

The status is a feat, considering how plentiful the ranks of film-based discs were on the market during the year.

Despite a leveling-off in the sales of country music albums during the past year, Garth Brooks proved a consistent favorite.

Brooks’ Capitol/Nashville disc “Fresh Horses” cracked the 4 million unit plateau and marked the country phenom’s ninth multiplatinum certification.

Twain mark

The lone country music success story of 1996, Shania Twain, added an additional 4 million units to the growing tally of her Mercury Records disc “The Woman in Me.”

The disc, which has been certified at 8 million units since its 1995 bow, is the highest-certified disc of a female country artist.

Virgin Records artist Smashing Pumpkins copped honors as the year’s bestselling alternative disc, as its “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” topped 7 million units. (Because the double disc logged 3.5 million copies, the RIAA certified it at north of 7 million.)

The Fugees, known primarily for their version of the Roberta Flack classic “Killing Me Softly,” was one of the year’s breakthrough artists.

The group’s Ruffhouse/Columbia Records bow “The Score” has nabbed more than 5 million units since its release in January.

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