Spear lances chart

Ex-Mouseketeer's disc tops slow January record sales

Burgeoning pop maven Britney Spears owned the bestselling album in the nation with her “Baby One More Time” disc debuting atop the album sales chart, according to sales data released Wednesday.

The nearly 121,000-copy bow of the Jive Records disc from the former Mickey Mouse Club member ended the five-week run in the top spot by DMX’s “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood.” The rapper’s album slid two slots to No. 3 with sales just under 111,000 copies.

Overall sales action was expectedly soft for an early January period, and allowed a number of debuts, such as discs from Sugar Ray and Black Crowes, to earn respectable chart bows during the period ended Jan. 17. Cold weather throughout the East and Midwest also kept shoppers away from stores.

The potent bow of Spears — whose musicvid for the disc’s title track has become an MTV and Top 40 radio staple — was also helped by the singer having the opening spot on the recently launched tour of RCA Records act ‘N-Sync.

The ensemble’s successful tour, appearance and favorite new artist win on the Jan. 11 American Music Awards telecast on ABC helped it nab a four-slot rise to No. 2 on sales of just over 113,000 units, a 9,000 copy boost over the previous chart.

AMA appearances help

Several other artists nabbed sales gains from appearances on the AMAs, including Jive’s Backstreet Boys and Columbia’s Will Smith, both of whom scored two slot ascensions to No. 12 and No. 15, respectively. Smith also landed three AMA trophies.

Show co-host Brandy, whose “Have You Ever” single has become an airplay staple, earned a nearly 4,000 copy boost for her Atlantic disc “Never Say Never.” Albums from Cher, 98 Degrees and Shawn Mullins also posted gains.

Offspring’s “Americana” held steady at No. 4 for the second consecutive survey period, with just south of 109,000 copies of its Columbia Records disc going home with fans.

The disc, buoyed by the widespread airplay of the track “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy),” held off a challenge by Lauryn Hill’s Ruffhouse/Columbia disc “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which slid three slots to No. 5. Less than 500 copies separated the two albums.

Late rapper slides

The latest set from the vaults of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, “Greatest Hits,” slid three rungs to No. 6 with sales of 101,000 copies of the Death Row/Interscope disc sold.

The tally was sufficient to best by more than 6,000 units the No. 7 disc, “Vol. II … Hard Knock Life” by Roc-a-fella/Def Jam Records rapper Jay-Z. The disc has topped 3 million units sold through to fans in its 16th week of release.

The Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” earned one of the chart’s biggest sales boosts — a 13,000-copy rise to more than 86,300 units — and nabbed the No. 8 slot for the Monument/Sony disc.

The three-slot ascension was aided by the Chicks’ appearance and win on the AMAs, and the publicity given to their recent Grammy Award nomination.

Country songstress Shania Twain’s Mercury Records disc “Come on Over” rose three berths to No. 9 on sales of more than 80,000 units, a tally that barely topped the sales of the No. 10 disc, “Spirit,” the sophomore Atlantic Records effort by Jewel.

15 minutes of fame

The return of Atlantic Records’ act Sugar Ray, “14:59,” bowed at No. 19 on sales of nearly 60,000 units. The disc (the title suggests the band’s 15 minutes of fame are expiring) was the chart’s second-highest debut.

The chart’s third-highest debut was earned by “By Your Side,” the Black Crowes’ newest Columbia offering and first under the label’s pact with Rick Rubin’s American Recordings. The album bowed at No. 26 on sales of nearly 50,000 units.

The publicity garnered by the opening of the film “Varsity Blues” and the heavy MTV plays of musicvids linked to the pic’s music, helped the Hollywood Records soundtrack post a significant first week tally of nearly 42,000 copies.

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