In this week's chart and sales analysis, we break down B2K's impressive debut by flashing back 10 years to the spring rise of another teen group. We'll also get remixed with Destiny's Child and Jennifer Lopez, and finish with a SoundScan-influenced prognostication at the NCAA tournament winner.
B2K Swing Into Spring
Spring is upon us, and that means that the music industry is about to finally awaken from the winter slumber it annually succumbs to between Christmas and the Grammy Awards. In the coming weeks, a host of fresh albums and artists will descend upon the charts as the season for new music releases begins to come into bloom.
While they weren't able to topple the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack on the new Billboard 200, some vernal-minded chart kudos go out to teen sensation B2K. The Los Angeles quartet moved more than 108,000 copies of their self-titled debut to enter the albums chart at #2 (see " 'O Brother' Soundtrack Fends Off B2K To Hold #1 Slot").
Riding the success of their "Uh Huh" single and video, B2K have become the first new artist to have their debut LP crack the top five this year; up until the release of B2K, the top spots on the Billboard 200 had been dominated by some familiar chart vets, including Creed, Jennifer Lopez, Alanis Morissette, Brandy and the not-to-be-denied "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack.
Even though we're tempted to attribute B2K's impressive chart showing to the simple "out with the old, in with the new" spirit of spring cleaning, that would deny the common ground B2K shares with their musical forerunners such as New Edition and Boyz II Men, among others.
That would also be denying both the Billboard chart and SoundScan history. What's particularly eyebrow-raising about B2K's #2 debut is that it comes almost precisely 10 years after another urban teen group, Kris Kross, made its infamous chart debut with Totally Krossed Out. B2K actually enjoyed the bigger debut over Totally Krossed Out in terms of both sales and chart positioning, as Kris Kross' first LP sold 75,000 copies out of the gates to enter the Billboard 200 at #9.
Fronted by the duo of 13-year-olds Chris "Daddy Mack" Smith and Chris "Mack Daddy" Kelly and featuring the inescapable hit single "Jump," Totally Krossed Out immediately bounded up the Billboard albums chart following its release, reaching #1 for two weeks in May 1992 and logging 12 additional weeks at #2 throughout that summer.
Totally Krossed Out went on to sell 4 million copies, although Kris Kross' other LPs would have as brief a chart life as Smith and Kelly's backwards fashion style. Issued in 1993, Kris Kross' second album, Da Bomb, was something of one selling just 700,000 copies, while the duo's final record, 1996's The Young, Rich & Dangerous, fared even worse by tallying 503,000 copies sold.
Of course, there's another, more obvious connection between B2K and Kris Kross that helps complete the 10-year cycle between the two groups, and that would be the involvement of producer Jermaine Dupri. As a then-19-year-old, Dupri was the mastermind behind the Kris Kross phenomenon, writing and producing almost all of their material, including "Jump."
Dupri has also been involved with the B2K album although on a much smaller scale as he lent his production skills to one of the LP's tracks, "Last Boyfriend." But B2K members Omarion, Raz-B, J-Boog and Lil' Fizz are probably more interested to know how their debut fared with that of another Dupri find, Lil' Bow Wow, whom B2K opened for while on tour last summer (in addition to appearing in Bow Wow's "Ghetto Girls" video).
B2K should be happy to know that while Lil' Bow Wow's first record, Beware of Dog, didn't debut quite as well as their own, there is more than enough sales bite to Lil' Bow Wow's bark. Released in October 2000, Beware of Dog entered the Billboard 200 albums chart at #8 after selling more than 101,000 copies. While those numbers fall short of B2K's chart debut, Lil' Bow Wow has set quite a sales mark for his one-time tourmates, as Beware of Dog has sold 2.49 million copies to date.
B2K may have bested the chart and sales debut of Lil' Bow Wow's first record, but the Lil' rapper still has much to woof it up about. Lil' Bow Wow has already achieved monstrous first-week returns for his second album, Doggy Bag, that B2K or any other teen urban act, for that matter will be hard pressed to match. Released the week before Christmas, Doggy Bag grossed over 319,000 copies its first week in stores to land at #11 on the Billboard 200. To date, Doggy Bag has wrapped up some 787,000 copies, and the LP is still holding on at #61 on the albums chart.
If B2K and Lil' Bow Wow team up as planned for another joint tour this summer, look for them to compare notes and numbers during those late night, cross-country bus trips.
Battle Of The Remixed Divas
Aside from B2K, the other real chart surprise this week came courtesy of Destiny's Child, whose This Is the Remix LP sold just 37,000 copies to debut at #29. Those numbers are particularly underwhelming when compared to that of Destiny's Child's previous album, Survivor, or to the remix album recently served up by Jennifer Lopez, J to Tha L-O!
In February, Lopez's remix disc debuted at #1 after selling more than 156,000 copies in its first week. The record has since gone on to sell 624,000 copies in just over a month and has yet to fall out of the top 10. While few expected J to Tha L-O! to top the Billboard 200, the record actually became Lopez's second straight to debut at #1 following J.Lo, which entered the chart at #1 in January 2001 on the strength of 272,000 copies sold.
However, that number is less than half of the first-week sales racked up by Destiny's Child's last studio album, 2001's Survivor. That record sold an astonishing 663,000 copies out of the gates to debut at #1 and has sold 3.85 million copies to date (as compared to J.Lo's 3.27 million). Destiny's Child's previous album, 1999's The Writing's on the Wall, has also outsold Jennifer Lopez's debut record from that same year, On the 6, with 5.97 million copies to Lopez's 2.57 million.
In light of those numbers, one would expect that a Destiny's Child remix LP would do at least as well as a Jennifer Lopez remix disc if only because of the expected "carry-over" effect from the previous album. But that didn't happen at all for Destiny's Child.
Lopez's J to Tha L-O! debuted at #1 because it managed to "carry-over" 57 percent of the first-week sales achieved by her J.Lo album. For Destiny's Child, the "carry-over" numbers were much, much smaller for This Is the Remix, which could only muster 5.5 percent of the first-week sales set by the group's Survivor album.
Admittedly, we're not too worried about Destiny's Child just yet. The trio looked absolutely stunning while singing backup vocals for Alejandro Sanz at the Grammy Awards last month and the group's Beyoncé Knowles is guaranteed to garner attention with her appearance in the next "Austin Powers" film. But when it comes to remix albums, even the ladies of Destiny's Child would have to agree Jennifer Lopez has got that back ... catalog.
March Music Madness
If you still haven't completed the Final Four portion of your NCAA men's tournament bracket, here's a word of chart-inspired wisdom: take Kentucky to win it all. Why? Because of the #1 album in the country, the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack.
Even though the Coen Bros. film is set in Depression-era Mississippi and both Ole Miss and Mississippi State have both already been eliminated from the tourney there is a very important musical reference that gives us a slight lean to the Wildcats from the Bluegrass State.
The clue comes in the lyrics to "Man of Constant Sorrrow," the signature tune from both the film and soundtrack, which goes: "I am a man of constant sorrow/ I've seen trouble all my days/ I bid farewell to old Kentucky/ The state where I was born and raised."
Admittedly, that may not be the most convincing evidence, but the just-for-fun, music-related aspect of the NCAA tourney took quite a hit when the University of Cincinnati and its DMX lookalike, Steve Logan, was eliminated by UCLA in the second round. The fact that Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State" and the "O Brother" album has led to a renewal in bluegrass and roots music is an added bonus.
With all that in mind, we're gonna stick with the only team/state prominently featured in "Man of Constant Sorrow" the University of Kentucky as we've learned (by now) not to bet against the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack.
[In SoundScan we trust. All figures, unless otherwise noted, are according to SoundScan's audited sales numbers and reflect sales as of press time.]