Answers to readers' questions about Pet Shop Boys, TLC, Salt-N-Pepa and a pop-leaning LeAnn Rimes.

PET SHOP SHOPPING

Hey Keith,

Thanks for bringing enjoyment every week with your column and awesome statistics.

Now, speaking of which, I'm a big Pet Shop Boys fan and I'm really jazzed that Billboard finally announced the details for the U.S. release of their new album, "Fundamental." Can you tell me the sales figures for all of their studio albums?

Thanks so much!

Robbie Daw
Los Angeles

Hi Robbie,

Indeed, Pet Shop Boys' new album, "Fundamental," is due out June 27 through Rhino. First single, "I'm With Stupid," gave the pop duo its 21st top 10 U.K. single when it entered the Official U.K. Singles chart at No. 8 two weeks ago.

The group's last studio album that was issued in the United States, "Release," has sold 73,000 since it bowed in 2003, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Here is a list of Pet Shop Boys' U.S. albums released since SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991.

"Title" (Year of Release; Units Sold Since 1991)

"Disco 3" (2003; 42,000)
"Release" (2002; 73,000)
"Nightlife" (1999; 139,000)
"Essential" (1998; 39,000)
"Bilingual" (1996; 149,000)
"Alternative" (1995; 68,000)
"Disco 2" (1994; 131,000)
"Very" (1993; 418,000)
"Discography: Complete Singles Collection" (1991; 719,000)



RIMES WITH EUROPE

Hi Keith,

I am just wondering what the deal is with LeAnn Rimes' new European-only CD "Whatever We Wanna." I know her last U.S. album, "This Woman," wasn't released officially in Europe (I don't think so, anyways). I also realize that "Whatever" is a "pop" CD. Is there any word of a stateside release? And why Europe only?!

Thanks!

Jason Donnavon
Pittsburgh

Hi Jason,

LeAnn Rimes' publicist didn't respond to our request for a comment by deadline.

But we have a theory on why her new pop album, "Whatever We Wanna," is only scheduled to be released in Europe.

It's likely that with her "This Woman" album, a country effort, having done rather well in America, there was no point in confusing the buying public with another music makeover for Rimes. "Woman" has spawned two top three Hot Country Songs hits and has sold 618,000 units in the United States since it was released in 2005, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's more than what her 2002 pop album, "Twisted Angel," has sold (436,000).

In America, Rimes got her start in country music and dabbled in pop, up until the release of "Twisted Angel" in 2002. That set positioned her as a straight-ahead pop artist and country radio all but ignored the album. (And really, there wasn't much on the record for them to play anyhow.)

"Twisted" didn't sell very well and its single, "Life Goes On," was a disappointment on the charts. It missed The Billboard Hot 100 completely and only peaked at No. 35 on the Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart.

Rimes returned to the country fold with the 2005 U.S. release "This Woman." The album's singles "Probably Wouldn't Be This Way" and "Something's Gotta Give" both reached No. 3 on the Hot Country Songs chart. The album debuted at No. 2 on Top Country Albums chart and No. 3 on The Billboard 200.

However, in the U.K. -- where country music is a niche genre -- Rimes has successfully established herself as a pop singer, scoring hit singles with the Elton John duet "Written in the Stars" (1999, No. 10), "Can't Fight The Moonlight" (2000, No. 1), "Life Goes On" (2002, No. 11) and the Ronan Keating duet "Last Thing On My Mind" (2004, No. 5).

Thus, it's sensible for Rimes' next U.K. album to be a pop-oriented effort.



HOW R U?

Keith,

Can you tell me if TLC is going to record with the girl who won last summer on (the TV show) "R U the Girl?" I thought she was to record a song with Chilli & T-Boz for a greatest hits CD.

Also, are there any plans to release a greatest hits CD for Salt-N-Pepa?

Thanks,

Jeff Savage
Salisbury, Md.

Hi Jeff,

Actually, TLC already recorded a song with O'so Krispie, the winner of "R U the Girl." The UPN reality show's purpose was to find a singer that would record a song with TLC. The resulting track was titled "I Bet," which was commercially released as a single in October 2005. The physical CD single has sold 2,000 units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while the digital download of the song has moved just over 4,000.

The CD single and the song are oddly billed to "R U The Girl with T-Boz and Chilli." (That could be why you hadn't realized TLC had even put out a single - it's hard to find in the Apple iTunes Music Store and at Amazon.com.)

"I Bet" was added to the digital edition TLC's compilation album "Now & Forever: the Hits" late last year. That album originally was released in America in June 2005.

As for Salt-N-Pepa, the hip-hop trio still doesn't have a U.S. greatest hits album on the market. In 2000, "The Best Of" was released outside America, but it has since gone out of print.

In the U.S., only three of Salt-N-Pepa's albums are still in print: "Hot, Cool & Vicious" (1987), "A Salt With A Deadly Pepa" (1988) and "Very Necessary" (1993). "Blacks' Magic" (1990) went out of print last month, "A Blitz Of Salt-N-Pepa: The Hits Remixed" (1991) was deleted in 1999, while "Brand New" (1997) vanished in 2004. All six albums were distributed through Universal Music.

Universal didn't respond to our request for a comment. However, one can imagine that the company would have already released a Salt-N-Pepa hits album if they could. There is likely some contractual wrangling that might need to be done in order to get a hits album on the market.

After all, considering Universal has released 400 "20th Century Masters Millennium Collection" albums (its affordably priced hits series), it's a safe bet that if they could, they'd put out one devoted to Salt-N-Pepa.