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Martin’s English debut disc No. 1

Biggest SoundScan-era take in Columbia's history

Latin heartthrob Ricky Martin’s first English-language disc is the nation’s, and the year’s, best-selling album thanks to a well-planned campaign and a hit single.

“Ricky Martin,” on C2/Columbia Records, sold 660,000 copies in its first week on sale ending May 16, according to data released Wednesday.

It is the 11th-highest industry debut since SoundScan began tracking point-of-sale data in 1991. The tally is also the biggest first-week SoundScan-era take in Columbia Records’ history.

The disc’s tally was double the first-week numbers logged in 1995 by Selena’s EMI Latin disc “Dreaming of You,” the industry’s previous record holder of an English-language debut by a Latin artist.

Martin eclipsed rapper Nas, who last month topped the chart with a first-week tally of more than 470,000 units.

The strong debut was expected, given kick-off single “Livin’ La Vida Loca’s” popularity and the album’s hefty set-up by label execs. This included a heavily played music video on MTV and a number of key TV appearances.

Martin’s in-store appearances in L.A. and Manhattan drew record crowds and a mania that paralyzed surrounding neighborhoods. His tour stop includes a Dodger Stadium gig with Will Smith in June.

“As fantastic as the first-week sales figures are, it’s important to note that they mark only the latest in a long list of achievements,” Don Ienner, chairman of Columbia Records Group, told Daily Variety. “He has worked hard for many years to build a truly global audience, and the U.S. English-speaking fans are only the most recent audience to recognize Ricky’s artistry, talent and charisma.”

Also, for the first time since Universal acquired Polygram in December and became the market share leader, Sony Music topped the big five congloms for the week with a 23.6% share. (UMG logged 22.3%).

At No. 2 was “Top Dogg,” the latest from rapper Snoop Dogg, which nabbed a first-week tally of slightly more than 187,000 copies.

TLC’s “Fan Mail” fell a slot to No. 3 and posted 30,000 fewer sales than the previous chart, but managed to overtake last week’s No. 1 “Place In The Sun,” by Tim McGraw.

TLC’s LaFace/Arista album sold more than 143,000 copies, a 22,000 lead over McGraw’s Curb Records offering.

Shania Twain’s “Come On Over” held steady at No. 5 for the second week, though its sales fell by more than 31,000 copies. Britney Spears’ Jive Records disc “Baby One More Time” stayed at No. 6 for the second week. But less than 2,000 copies separated it from the Ruff Ryders’ Interscope Records compilation album, “Ryde or Die.”

The soundtrack to the latest “Star Wars” saga slipped five slots to No. 8 on sales of just over 98,000 copies, a 74,000-unit fall from last week.

The Dixie Chicks held onto their Top 10 berth thanks to sales of their Monument/Sony disc “Wide Open Spaces,” which topped 90,000 units. The tally put the No. 9 disc over the impressive 4 million-unit mark.

Promos for the ABC-TV spec “Double Platinum” helped give the Brandy and Diana Ross’ disc a slight sales bounce.

Because the spec aired after this week’s survey period, both discs will probably see further gains on the May 23 list.