Pop Album Chart : Blowfish Has a Hit to Puff Up About

Hootie & the Blowfish's "Cracked Rear View" cracked the pop Top 10, at No. 7, the group's first visit to the elite circle--with its major-label album debut. It took a while, though--31 weeks. The popularity of "Hold My Hand," its first Top 10 single, really helped sell the album. Bubbling under the Top 10: Live's "Throwing Copper" (No. 12). With a boost from Bonnie Raitt's hot single, "You Got It," the 2-week-old "Boys on the Side" soundtrack took another giant step up the chart, from No. 37 to No. 18. On the pop singles chart, Madonna's "Take a Bow" took over the No. 1 spot, while Brownstone made its first-ever appearance in the Top 10 with "If You Love Me" (No. 8) and Subway's "This Lil' Game We Play" (No. 25) continued its rapid rise.

* Hard rock isn't dead--slumping maybe, but not dead. That's evident when you see such albums as Extreme's "Waiting for the Punchline" debuting fairly strongly, at No. 40. But don't expect a long Top 40 run. Because it's so tough for hard rock to get airplay, an album like this isn't likely to have the kind of staying power it would have had a few years ago.

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For week ending Feb. 17

Rank Rank 2 Weeks Last Weeks on the Week Ago Chart 1. "The Hits," 1 2 9 Garth Brooks 2. "II," Boyz II Men 3 5 24 3. "Balance," Van Halen 2 1 3 4. "Dookie," Green Day 4 3 53 5. "Hell Freezes Over," Eagles 5 4 14 6. "Crazysexycool," TLC 6 8 13 7. "Cracked Rear View," 11 12 31 Hootie & the Blowfish 8. "Vitalogy," Pearl Jam 8 7 12 9. "No Need to Argue," 10 9 19 the Cranberries 10. "Smash," 12 11 39 Offspring * "Waiting for ... ... 1 Punchline," Extreme

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