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Hanson bops in at 9; BeeGees wade to 11

Talk of their upcoming film and high visibility helped the Spice Girls jump into the top spot on the nation’s album sales chart for the week ending May 11.

The rise marks the first time in the 11 weeks their self-titled debut has been on the charts that it earned the top berth. Previously, strong debuts by other artists allowed the disc to go only as high as No. 2.

Country stalwart George Strait was bumped into the place position on sales of 117,000 units of his MCA Nashville disc “Carrying Your Love With Me.” Slightly more than 20,000 discs separated Strait from the Spice Girls’ 138,000 disc tally logged during the week.

Mercury Records’ Hanson, which is being hailed as one of the music industry’s next big things, benefited from constant exposure on MTV and a catchy single (“MMMBop”) racing up the airplay charts. The underage trio nabbed the No. 9 spot by logging 72,000 copies of its “Middle of Nowhere” debut in its first week of release.

Other benefactors of TV exposure included the BeeGees, whose induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, appearance on the American Music Awards and repeated airings of the group’s videos during its run as VH1 artist of the month, resulted in an impressive debut at No. 11 for its Polydor disc “Still Waters.”

A high-pitch promotion and a May 5 appearance on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” helped give Tina Turner and her “Wildest Dreams” disc a 30 spot boost. Turner, who bowed her five-night SRO L.A. run May 12, saw nearly 10,000 copies of her disc cross cash registers. “Dreams” rose to 132 from 167.

Chicago was among 18 of the top 50 acts showing sales increases over the previous week. The band’s 30-year hit song recap set “Heart of Chicago” rose 10 chart berths on sales of nearly 19,000 units, a jump undoubtedly aided by a last-minute booking on the “Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” An hourlong, heavily promoted and fawn-filled appearance May 8 on the top-rated KTLA Morning News helped as well.

Rounding out the top 10 were Mary J. Blige’s MCA Records disc “Share My World,” which fell just one notch to No. 3 on sales of 114,000 copies. By doing so, the disc crossed into gold territory (500,000 copies) in just three impressive weeks.

Notorious B.I.G.’s “Life After Death” remained steady at No. 4 on sales of 105,000 copies of the Bad Boy/Arista Records disc. A widely publicized promotion on May 14 involving 200 radio stations and cablers BET and MTV playing the same song at the same time across the country could help spark additional sales of the disc next week.

The soundtrack to “Space Jam” continued its hold on No. 5 with sales of 82,000 copies, while Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” returned to the top 10 by hitting the No. 6 post on sales of 81,000 copies.

At No. 7 was Interscope’s Wallflowers with more than 78,000 copies of its “Bringing Down The House” disc snapped up by consumers. Jewel’s “Pieces of You” logged 74,000 in sales for the No. 8 spot; while Universal Records’ Erykah Badu landed No. 10 on sales of 71,000 copies of her “Baduism” disc.

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