Roots tunes still strong

'O Brother' rides Grammys to No. 2 ranking

The multiplatinum “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack rode a wave of Grammy accolades to second place on the album charts this week, bested only by the latest effort from Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette.

Sales of “O Brother” (Lost Highway) swelled nearly four-fold to 209,000 in the latest SoundScan rankings. The album of roots country, blues and bluegrass material that accompanied last year’s Coen brothers Depression-era laffer took home five Grammys, including the coveted Album of the Year honors.

The Grammy perf was perhaps the single biggest shot of national publicity the “O Brother” soundtrack has had since its release. Album bowed modestly, but has remained lodged in the upper half of the top 50 ever since, thanks largely to word-of-mouth recommendations. It has sold 4.2 million copies to date with virtually no radio airplay.

Keys hits higher note

Kudocast also raised the fortunes of the night’s other big winners. Alicia Keys, who nabbed five golden gramophones, saw her J Records debut “Songs in A Minor” climb 16 spots to four, and U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” (Interscope) vaulted to 10th from 28th place. The Irish uber-rockers got four awards.

Alt-rock act Train also benefitted: their album “Drops of Jupiter” (Columbia) gained 60 places to 37 on a 150% sales increase, after taking home the best rock song award for the title track.

The Grammys even shined the spotlight on one artist who went home empty-handed. Neo-soul progenitor India.Arie, who was nominated seven times but shut out at the end of the night, still managed to shoot from 32nd to 14th on the charts with “Acoustic Soul” (Motown), whose sales more than doubled over the previous week. Arie, Keys, Train and U2 all performed on the show.

The parade of Grammy honorees didn’t monopolize the charts entirely this week. Morissette’s third studio effort, “Under Rug Swept” (Warner/Maverick), commanded the No. 1 spot, selling more than 215,000 units in its first week out.

Minogue debuts in 3rd

Resurgent Aussie pop star Kylie Minogue had a surprisingly high debut at third place with her latest Capitol album “Fever.” Driven by heavy radio and MTV plays of the aptly named infectious club anthem “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” LP shifted nearly 115,000 discs.

Continuing the diva parade was Cher, whose most recent record “Living Proof” (Warner) landed in ninth place with sales of 82,000. And at the other end of the spectrum, deejay group the X-ecutioners grabbed the 15th spot, trading on heavy airplay for their single “It’s Goin’ Down,” which features members of superstar rap-rock outfit Linkin Park.

“O Brother’s” success also had an echo effect for Alison Krauss & Union Station, the bluegrass outfit that recorded several tracks for the soundtrack. The group’s aptly named LP “New Favorite” (Rounder) moved up from 122nd to 81st, boosting sales by 50%.

In addition, Bob Dylan, who performed on the show and whose “Love and Theft” (Columbia) got the nod for best contemporary folk album, rose from 175th to 72nd, more than doubling sales. And the Grammys’ own compilation of pop music nominees for 2002 jumped from 31st to 13th, with sales doubling to 68,000.

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