Hot Product for Monday, Dec. 2, 2002

Previewing new releases, including Mariah Carey's "Charmbracelet," "More Music From '8 Mile'," "Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music," "Josh Groban in Concert" and more.

This Time's A 'Charm'

Mariah CareyThe media might want to tag Mariah Carey's "Charmbracelet" as her bid for a pop comeback, but the artist begs to differ. "To compare a studio recording with a soundtrack recording isn't fair," she says, referring to 2001's "Glitter," the Virgin album that accompanied the motion-picture box-office disappointment of the same name. With Nielsen SoundScan registering stateside sales of 557,000, it's the first Carey-related set to miss the million-selling mark.

Carey does agree that "Charmbracelet" -- the first offering from her new Island Def Jam-distributed MonarC label -- marks the start of a fresh chapter, following a period of personal and professional problems. Last fall, the artist was hospitalized for extreme exhaustion, which was followed by a much-publicized split with Virgin in a reported $28 million contract buyout by parent company EMI Recorded Music. It was a one-two punch that Carey says provided invaluable life lessons.

While the press dined on the details of Carey's trials and tribulations, the artist concentrated on "getting some much-needed rest" and revisiting her original intention in life -- making music. The artist's rejuvenated spirit can be felt throughout "Charmbracelet," combining richly textured pop ballads with earthy, R&B-inflected hip-hop, sewn them together with well-drawn lyrics whose themes dart between romance and self-empowerment.

The delicate "Sunflowers for Alfred Roy" is a mournful elegy for Carey's father, who died earlier this year. More uplifting are two of Carey's favorites: "Subtle Invitation," with its smooth, swing-jazz inflections, and the gospel-flavored "My Saving Grace." "These are songs that just brought me such joy to sing," she says. "They're not punched in a million times. It's just me in front of the mike, performing from the heart."

There also is a complex, string-laden revision of Def Leppard's "Bringin' on the Heartbreak," which the singer says is an example of her "musical diversity. I love going from showing my Minnie Riperton influences to hip-hop to rock. It's all me. For 'Heartbreak,' it was fun to go back to a song that I loved singing when I was in school. I think we bring some fresh elements to it."

The Extra 'Mile'

Mobb DeepOn the heels of the huge chart success of the soundtrack to the Eminem-starring film "8 Mile" (Interscope), a second album of music featured in the film will hit stores this week. "More Music From '8 Mile'" will collect some of hip-hop's greatest hits from around 1995, when the movie takes place.

No Eminem songs will be featured on "More Music," which boasts no new tracks and is led by two Mobb Deep cuts, "Shook Ones, Pt. 2" and "Survival of the Fittest." Other artists whose work is included on the set include Notorious B.I.G., Naughty By Nature, Outkast, Ol' Dirty Bastard, 2Pac, and the Pharcyde.

The initial soundtrack to "8 Mile," which featured three songs by Eminem and other new tracks from Nas, Jay-Z, Rakim, 50 Cent, and Xzibit, debuted atop The Billboard 200 earlier this month and has sold 1.6 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. As for "8 Mile," it the second-highest-grossing opening weekend in history for an R-rated film when it grossed $54.5 million.

'Together' Again

Dave MatthewsLast year's TNT live concert special "Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music" arrives this week on DVD and VHS home video formats via Pioneer Entertainment. The memorable event was hosted by Kevin Spacey and featured performances of Lennon's songs by such noted artists Dave Matthews, Stone Temple Pilots, and Yolanda Adams and Billy Preston, who opened the show with a performance of "Imagine."

Others who performed included Alanis Morissette, Nelly Furtado, Marc Anthony, Shelby Lynne, Natalie Merchant, Cyndi Lauper, Lou Reed, and Craig David, and others. Actors Kevin Bacon, Benjamin Bratt, Edie Falco, James Gandolfini, Dustin Hoffman, and Ben Stiller, as well as Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, made guest appearances. Lennon's son Sean's poignant performance of "Julia," was among the highlights, as was his teaming with Rufus Wainwright and Moby for a rendition of the Beatles' "Across the Universe."

All proceeds from the sale of the DVD and VHS will benefit the New York-based Robin Hood Foundation, which established a relief fund to help victims' families and New Yorkers suffering from the economic aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

'Concert' Souvenir

Josh GrobanSinger Josh Groban, who has won over fans with his blend of pop and classical music, this week releases the live CD/DVD package "Josh Groban in Concert" via 143 Records/Warner Bros. The discs are culled from an appearance on PBS' "Great Performances" and find Groban performing material from his self-titled debut album, as well as new songs with such guests as producer/writer/arranger David Foster on piano, conductor John Williams, Angie Stone, Lilli Hayden, and Andrea Corr.

Along with the concert, the DVD will boast a documentary on the making of the PBS special and backstage footage shot by Josh's brother Chris. The audio CD features seven songs from the concert and a version of "O Holy Night" produced and arranged by Foster.

Released in December 2001, "Josh Groban" spawned the single "To Where You Are," which topped Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. The album, which in May peaked at No. 8 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.7 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Additional titles hitting stores this week include:

• Motown's soundtrack to "Empire," featuring tracks from Mobb Deep, DMX, and India.Arie.

• Season collections from the Platters ("A Platters Christmas") and the Miracles ("A Miracles Christmas") via Big Eye Records.

• A DVD from late shock rocker G.G. Allin, "Live and Pissed 1988" (Music Video Distributors/Primitech).

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