The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the first solo album from Fugees singer/rapper Lauryn Hill, soared to #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart on sales topping 400,000 copies, more in one week than any female solo artist in recent history.
According to SoundScan, which tracks album sales, no other female solo artist has sold as many records in one week since the company began keeping score in 1991.
Hill's achievement even surpasses that of pop superstar Madonna, whose recent electronica-influenced work Ray of Light set the previous SoundScan record when it sold 371,000 copies during the sales week ending March 8, 1998.
Hailed as a great artistic achievement, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is living up to its reputation as one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year, based on sales figures this week. Fueled by positive advance word and by the success of its first single, "Doo Wop (That Thing)" (RealAudio excerpt), the album moved 420,000 copies in the week ending Aug. 30.
Characterized as a personal album for Hill, Miseducation includes songs such as "To Zion," which addresses her life as a single mother, and "Lost Ones" (RealAudio excerpt), which offers her views on the current state of music.
While retailers must be happy that Hill has made such a connection with audiences, "To Zion" co-producer Che Guevara said he was somewhat surprised that so many people were relating to the album. "I knew she had a big fanbase," he explained, "but I didn't know how many people would be into [the album] because a lot of it is so personal.
"Everything I've heard so far has been so positive and so overwhelmingly in her favor, which is nice to hear after working so hard."
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill far out-paced its closest competition, Hello Nasty, from punk-rappers the Beastie Boys, which sold 137,000 copies and remained lodged at the #2 spot. Last week's #1, Korn's Follow the Leader, tumbled to #9 on sales of 109,000, bringing the alt-metal band's two-week total to 379,000.
Debuting close behind Hill at #5 was the first solo album from White Zombie frontman Rob Zombie, Hellbilly Deluxe. The sci-fi-obsessed heavy-metal star moved 120,000 copies and landed higher on the charts than any one of White Zombie's albums did in its first week.
The only other top-10 debut this week belonged to Back To Titanic, the #7-charting sequel to the most successful soundtrack of all time. Without a hit single such as Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," it may be difficult for the all-film-score sequel to do the same mega-platinum business as the original, but the release Tuesday of the movie on home video may help to keep this second soundtrack on the charts for just as long.
Other notable debuts this week included Missy Elliott protégé Nicole's Make It Hot at #42, hardcore rapper Jayo Felony's Whatcha Gonna Do at #46, West Coast gangsta rapper Xzibit's 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz at #58, singer/songwriter Elliott Smith's XO at #104 and Three 6 Mafia member Indo G's Angel Dust, which popped in at #105.
Further down the charts, pop-rockers Better Than Ezra's How Does Your Garden Grow sprouted at #129, while teen R&B queen Tatyana Ali bowed at #112 with Kiss The Sky. Rounding out the lower-charting debuts were modern-rock hero and former Sugar/Hüsker Dü leader Bob Mould's The Last Dog and Pony Show at #164, swing revivalists Royal Crown Revue's The Contender at #172 and eclectic alt-rockers Cracker at #182 with Gentleman's Blues.
Summer soundtracks continued to fill the Billboard 200 albums chart this week, as the two volumes of the disco-heavy soundtrack to "54" made their mark -- with 54 Vol. 2 coming in at #93 and 54 Vol. 1 chasing it at #99. The soundtrack to vampire-hunter flick "Blade" saw a huge leap this week, flying from its #70 debut slot to this week's #36 position. Also moving up on the charts is the salsa-centric soundtrack to the film "Dance With Me," which sprung from #88 to #54.
The rest of the top 10: various artists, Armageddon -- The Album (#3); Barenaked Ladies, Stunt (#4); N'Sync, N'Sync (#6); Snoop Dogg, Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told (#8); and various artists, Dr. Dolittle: The Album (#10).