Chart Watch: Pearl Jam and The Verve Strike Gold

Both Yield and Urban Hymns surpass the 500,000 sales mark.

The Billboard 200 albums chart contains both good and not-so-good news for Pearl Jam this week.

First, the good news: SoundScan reports that the band's latest effort, Yield, has moved 544,000 copies since its release on Feb. 3 -- 44,000 more than is needed for the Recording Industry Association of America to award Eddie Vedder and company a gold record.

The not-so-good news: Yield moved 185,000 copies in its second week of release, which -- while still substantial sales -- is nearly a 50 percent drop from the album's first-week figures.

Chart-wise, Yield slid one notch to #3, with Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love climbing back into the #2 slot and the almighty Titanic soundtrack remaining on top for a fourth straight week.

Pearl Jam fans seemed divided whether to take the second-week sales figures as a good sign or a bad one. "A 50 percent drop seems really bad," 19-year-old Stewart Cole wrote in an e-mail. "I like Yield a lot," he continued. "But

I'm worried that it might drop out of the top 10 next week."

Allison Hayes, 23, however, wrote a more optimistic note: "It went gold in two

weeks," she wrote, "what more do people want?!"

While no one debuted in the top 10 this week, two acts managed to bump

their way up into the chart's upper echelons. K-Ci & Jojo, both of whom

were once members of the R&B group Jodeci, appeared for the first time in the

top 10, moving up from #16 to #10 with their album Love Always. The other artist propelled upward was record-breaking country crooner Garth Brooks, whose Sevens launched from #24 to #4.

The other act to go gold (500,000) this week were Brit-poppers The Verve, who sold 44,000 copies of their breakthrough album Urban Hymns, pushing total sales to 504,000 on the back of their durable single "Bitter Sweet Symphony" (RealAudio excerpt), which recently surfaced in a Nike TV ad. Meanwhile, the disc slipped a few notches from #28 to #33.

In other chart news, two films that opened two weeks ago saw upward chart

movement for their soundtracks. The Blues Brothers 2000 soundtrack,

which features appearances by a legion of blues legends such as Junior Wells and Sam Moore and newcomers Erykah Badu and Jonny Lang, jumped from #27 to #12. The soundtrack to "The Wedding Singer," which is dominated by relative oldies from such '80s pop acts as the Smiths, the Thompson Twins and Musical Youth, catapulted from #90 to #26, mimicking the success of the '80s-dominated soundtrack for last year's "Grosse Pointe Blank."

Further down the charts, the 1998 Grammy Nominees collection, which

features tracks from possible award-winners Paula Cole, Sheryl Crow and Fiona Apple, landed at #54 based on SoundScan-reported sales of 29,000. James Iha's debut solo album, Let It Come Down, a collection of sweetly crafted pop songs from the Smashing Pumpkins' guitarist, moved 7,800 copies in its first week of release and landed at #171.

And down near the bottom of the top 200, ska-rockers Cherry Poppin' Daddies' Zoot Suit Riot made its chart debut, landing at #199.

The rest of the top 10: Spice Girls (#5), Savage Garden (#6), Usher (#7),

Backstreet Boys (#8) and Matchbox 20 (#9). [Wed., Feb. 18, 1998, 6:30 p.m. PST]