Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, Nelly Furtado, the Backstreet Boys and 'Toy' (aka LaToya Jackson).

WHERE ARE MY LADIES?

Keith,

I love "Ask Billboard" [and] I have a question. A few years ago three women seemed to reign supreme on the charts -- Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan and Nelly Furtado.

However their latest releases, "So Called Chaos," "Afterglow" and "Folklore" seemed to have all flopped. Why is this? How many albums have they sold? Is it due to poor publicity? I remember walking into a record store and seeing Nelly Furtado's new album in the new release section. That was the first I ever heard of it.

Thanks,

Ryan Gibson

Hi Ryan,

Sarah McLachlan's album "Afterglow" (Arista) is actually doing quite well. It has sold more than 2.1 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That is far from flop status.

Alanis Morissette's "So-Called Chaos" (Maverick) has sold 337,000 to date, while Nelly Furtado (Universal) has shifted 375,000. The lack of sales can be attributed to any number of things.

In the case of Morissette, the album has been out for a little over two months and was preceded by quite a bit of media fanfare. Although is off to a slower start than maybe expected, she is on the road in North America with the Barenaked Ladies, which should fuel some sales. And while the first "Chaos" single, "Everything," didn't blow up at radio, there are other potential hits on the album that could also drive sales.

With Furtado's "Folklore," I think consumer awareness of the release might have been quite low. The set was released Nov. 25 of last year, and it perhaps got lost in the shuffle of a busy holiday release schedule. First single "Powerless (Say What You Want)" peaked at No. 30 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart, but didn't even enter the Hot 100.



WHEN WILL BACKSTREET BE BACK?

Hey Keith,

I'm from Argentina, and this is the first time that I have written to you. I have heard lots of rumors but I have the feeling that only you can tell me the truth. I need to know the exact day when the new Backstreet Boys CD is going to be released. It's been a long time since the last time I heard new material so I'm desperate!

Thanks in advance,

Agustina
Buenos Aires

Hi Agustina,

The Backstreet Boys are aiming to release a new album either at the end of this year or early in 2005, but no exact date has been set. The group has been in the studio for a number of months recording new material for the effort.

The Boys' last studio album, "Black & Blue," debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and sold more than 5 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.



A NEW JACKSON 'TOY'

Hello Keith,

I've noticed a singer by the name of Toy has entered Billboard's Hot Dance/Club Play chart's top 20. Is this "Toy" as in La Toya Jackson? And if so, is this the first time she has had a top 20 hit?

Thank you,

Marco Aquino

Hi Marco,

Surprise! Toy is indeed La Toya Jackson. For its initial introduction, the single promoted to dance clubs billed the single "Just Wanna Dance" to an artist named Toy. The track moves 26-19 on Billboard's Hot Dance/Club Play chart dated July 31.

"Just Wanna Dance" is the first single release from Jackson's forthcoming album "Startin' Over," and can be sampled on her official Web site, Latoyaonline.com.

Jackson has had one other top 20 Billboard hit single: "If You Feel The Funk" reached No. 17 on the Club Play chart in 1980.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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