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‘Aaliyah’ Tops the Charts After Singer’s Death

TIMES POP MUSIC CRITIC

In the kind of dramatic fan outpouring that has followed the deaths of such other pop stars as John Lennon and Tupac Shakur, Aaliyah’s latest album has soared to the top of the national sales chart, thanks to a 595% increase in sales.

“Aaliyah,” which was released in mid-July and had sold fewer than 500,000 copies before the R&B; singer’s death--with eight others in an Aug. 25 plane crash in the Bahamas--sold 306,000 copies last week. That’s up from 44,000 the week before her death.

“We’re not surprised by the numbers,” Parrish Johnson, executive vice president of her label, Blackground Records, said Wednesday. “It shows you the great support and love that Aaliyah’s fans have for her.”

Violet Brown, urban music buyer for the Wherehouse retail chain, also saw the sales response as a tribute to the 22-year-old singer, who also had a promising acting career.

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Brown said Aaliyah’s youthful fan base and the fact that the album hadn’t “sold like crazy” before her death contributed to the sales spurt.

“There were a lot of her fans who still didn’t have the album so the tragedy made them want to get the album,” she said.

Retailers began feeling the emotional impact of Aaliyah’s death the day after her private plane crashed.

Thanks to a Sunday sales spurt, the album jumped from the 44,000 figure, for the week ending Aug. 19, to 62,000 for the week ending Aug. 26, according to SoundScan. That increase pushed the album from No. 27 to No. 19 on last week’s chart.

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The collection entered the national chart at No. 2 on July 25 by selling 187,000 copies. It then fell in subsequent weeks to No. 5 (99,000), No. 17 (63,000), No. 25 (53,000) and No. 27 (44,000) before starting its rebound.

More than 3,000 people attended a memorial event for the Brooklyn-born singer on Friday at a banquet hall in New York City.

After a service later in the day at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Manhattan, 22 white doves were released from the church steps, one for each year of the singer’s life.

Aaliyah’s album was joined in the Top 10 this week by five new releases, headed by Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama,” which finished second on the list, thanks to sales of 294,000 copies.

The other Top 10 arrivals: Slipknot’s “IOWA” at No. 3 with 255,000 sales; Brian McKnight’s “Superhero” at No. 7 with 151,000 sales; Toby Keith’s “Pull My Chain” at No. 9 with 120,000 sales; and Puddle of Mudd’s “Come Clean” at No. 10 with 116,000 sales.

Two other new releases finished in the Top 20: Afroman’s “Good Times” (No. 14) and Bjork’s “Vespertine” (No. 19).

The holdovers in the Top 10 are Alicia Keys’ “Songs in A Minor” (No. 4), Maxwell’s “Now” (No. 5), the seventh volume in the “Now That’s What I Call Music” hit compilation series (No. 6) and Juvenile’s “Project English” (No. 8). Janet Jackson’s “Someone to Call My Lover” remains the nation’s best-selling single.

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(From The Times’ album reviews)

Alicia Keys’ “Songs in A Minor,” J. In a striking debut, Keys moves from the funky sensuality of Prince’s “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” to the neo-soul vitality of Macy Gray and Jill Scott. (Robert Hilburn)

Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama,” MCA. Though, perhaps inevitably, not as innovative as her early recordings, “No More Drama” seamlessly incorporates the smoother soul and gospel flavors of 1999’s “Mary” with her trademark blend of hip-hop, funk and R&B.; (Natalie Nichols)

Slipknot’s “IOWA,” Roadrunner. This bludgeoning collection makes it clear that once you take away the freak show surrounding this masked band, what’s left is not very interesting. (Lina Lecaro)


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