Billboard Bits: matchbox twenty, McCartney, R. Kelly

Stories about matchbox twenty's Rob Thomas releasing a benefit holiday single, Paul McCartney's record DVD sales week, and some details about R. Kelly's forthcoming album.

matchbox twentyRob Thomas, lead singer of matchbox twenty, will release an online-only holiday single to benefit the Blythedale Children's Hospital in Westchester, New York. Written by Thomas, "A New York Christmas" was produced by Matt Serletic, who also played keyboards on the cut. Others who collaborated on the song are matchbox twenty guitarist Kyle Cook, guitarist Mike Stern, Santana bassist Benny Rietveld, and drummer Rodney Holmes.

Atlantic Records has sent copies of "A New York Christmas" to U.S. radio stations for airplay consideration. The track will be available beginning Tuesday (Dec. 10) for 99 cents from Liquid Audio's, as well as the download stores of,, and

Fans who have purchased matchbox twenty's latest album, "More Than You Think You Are," can download the song for free from the band's official Web site by utilizing the "Download Card" included with the disc.

Thomas will likely perform the song Dec. 20 at WPLJ New York's annual holiday fund-raising concert for the hospital, which will be his third consecutive appearance at the event.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Paul McCartneyPaul McCartney's DVD video "Back in the U.S." (Capitol Video) has set records for highest single-week sales and highest debut sales of a music DVD. The title, which chronicles McCartney's 2002 Driving U.S.A. tour, sold 61,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, to bow at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Music Videos chart. A companion McCartney CD sold 224,000 copies and debuts this week at No. 8 on The Billboard 200.

Before the McCartney project, the best week for a music DVD was by Dave Matthews Band's "Live at Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado" (BMG Video), which sold more than 31,000 units upon its debut last month.

-- Jill Kipnis, L.A.

R. KellyAlthough details are few, R. Kelly will release his sixth studio album, "Chocolate Factory," Jan. 14 via Jive. The set is led by first single "Ignition," which is currently No. 13 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and No. 51 on the Billboard Hot 100. In November, the track debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Sales chart, a feat Kelly previously attained with "Bump N' Grind" in 1994 and "You Remind Me of Something" in 1995.

It's the first new music from Kelly since his one-off single "Heaven I Need a Hug" hit No. 26 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks tally in August. He is facing 21 counts of child pornography stemming from a videotape that allegedly depicts him having sex with a minor. The artist, who has pled not guilty to all charges, is due back in an Illinois court Dec. 20 for the next hearing in the case.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.


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