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Fans push ‘Aaliyah’ to No. 1

Sales of album nearly quintupled in latest outing

“Aaliyah” has recovered from a sales slump and has shot up the album charts after the untimely and tragic demise of its creator.

The eponymous Blackground/Virgin Records release from the R&B chanteuse who died in a plane crash in the Bahamas last month rose to No. 1 this week from No. 19. Sales of “Aaliyah” nearly quintupled to 306,000 in its latest outing, according to SoundScan data.

The singer’s death, and the widely covered funeral procession in New York City that followed last week, also sent fans back into Aaliyah’s catalog. The soundtrack to Jet Li actioner “Romeo Must Die” (Blackground/Virgin), in which Aaliyah co-starred and which spawned her hit single “Try Again,” re-entered the charts at 164, selling 8,300 units.

Aaliyah’s posthumous No. 1 perf thwarted what might otherwise have been dubbed the “all-Universal Music Group week” on the charts, as the world’s largest record label fielded a hefty five top 10 debuts.

Topping the list was “No More Drama,” the latest release from R&B vet Mary J. Blige on UMG’s MCA imprint, which came in at No. 2,shifting more than 294,000 discs. Following closely behind at No. 3 was “Iowa” (Roadrunner/Island/Def Jam) from shock-rockers Slipknot.

“Superhero,” the latest Motown release from crooner Brian McKnight, landed in seventh with 151,000 units scanned. Toby Keith’s sixth studio CD, “Pull My Chain” (Dreamworks Nashville), grabbed ninth, and Fred Durst proteges Puddle of Mudd claimed the 10th spot with its debut “Come Clean” (Flawless).

In the 14th spot, the UMG parade continued with an unusually strong debut by “Good Times” (Universal), from rapper Afroman. Album — whose opening single “Because I Got High” has already become a cult favorite, amid controversy over radio and MTV airings — has sold 96,000 copies.

Also debuting well this week were “Vespertine” (Elektra) from quirky Icelandic talent Bjork at No. 19, “Digital Bullet” (Koch) by Wu-Tang alum RZA (under the pseudonym Bobby Digital) at No. 24 and “Thug on Da Line” (Loud) by Krayzie Bone at No. 27.

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