43ask

Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about Lil' Kim, 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, and Deborah Cox.

WHEN WILL KIM RETURN TO THE STREETS?

Hello Keith,

I was wondering when is the queen of rap, Lil' Kim, going to release her third LP? This album is highly anticipated because it is Kim's comeback to the streets. Can you please inform me about the release date on new album, the title and its first single? Also, how many units have "Hard Core" and "Notorious K.I.M." sold according to SoundScan.

Thank you very much,

Jay

Hi Jay,

Lil Kim' upcoming untitled third studio effort is tentatively slated for a February 2003 release. Her last two discs, 2000's "Notorious K.I.M." and 1996's "Hard Core" reached No. 4 and No. 11, respectively, on The Billboard 200. Each has sold 1.3 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

This week on Billboard's Bubbling Under R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart, Kim is No. 19 with "What's the Word." Her record label, Atlantic, has said that the track is not the first single from the forthcoming album.



BATTLE OF THE BOY BANDS

Dear Keith,

'N Sync's "No Strings Attached" (its second album) holds the record for the most copies sold in the initial week of release, at 2.4 million. Ever since the Backstreet Boys' "Black & Blue" (their third album) failed to break this record, the media (and radio airplay) has inferred that BSB is past their prime and 'N Sync are the bigger act.

If I understand the figures correctly, though, BSB has sold more albums than 'N Sync. I also believe that "Black & Blue" (by many considered to be a commercial disappointment) sold more copies total than 'N Sync's third studio album "Celebrity" (which had a larger first week of sales and is seen as a hit by most in the record industry).

Excluding BSB's "The Hits - Chapter One" and 'N Sync's "Home for Christmas" album, which band has sold more copies of their three studio albums of original material? How many copies have each of these albums sold individually? Also, any insight into the media backlash against BSB -- or am I just being paranoid?

Thanks!

Darren Lucas,
Wichita, Kan.

Hi Darren,

Ok, here we go. According to Nielsen SoundScan, 'N Sync's U.S. sales for its three studio albums are: "'N SYNC" - 8.7 million, "No Strings Attached" - 11 million, and "Celebrity" - 4.8 million. As for the Backstreet Boys, their titles shape up like this: "Backstreet Boys" - 10 million, "Millennium" - 12 million, and "Black & Blue" - 5.4 million.

So, just for each groups three studio sets, 'N Sync has moved 24.5 million copies of its albums, while Backstreet Boys have sold 27.4 million. Your point has been proven. (For what it's worth, 'N Sync's "Home for Christmas" has sold 2.6 million copies in the U.S., and the Boys' "Chapter One" moved 1.5 million.)

Why has the media and the general public perceived 'N Sync as the more successful of the two acts? Radio is a factor. 'N Sync's last two albums have each spawned three top-20 hits on Billboard's Hot 100. "Strings" saw "Bye Bye Bye" (No. 4), "It's Gonna Be Me" (No. 1), and "This I Promise You" (No. 5) all sail into the top-5. "Celebrity" started slower with "Pop" (No. 19) but then thanks to crossover R&B appeal, "Gone" (No. 11) and "Girlfriend" (No. 5) both climbed to higher ranks.

The Boys were on a roll on the Hot 100 for a while. Their self-titled album had four top-40 hits: "Quit Playing Games" (No. 2), "Everybody" (No. 4), "I'll Never Break Your Heart" (No. 35), and "All I Have To Give" (No. 5). "Millennium" started off strong with "I Want It That Way" (No. 6), but faltered with "Larger Than Life" (No. 25). "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" climbed into the top-10 (No. 6), but "The One" stalled out at No. 30.

Finally, "Black & Blue" started off promisingly with "Shape of My Heart" (No. 9) but the next two singles, "The Call" and "More Than That" didn't make the top-20 (they hit No. 52 and No. 27, respectively).

Certainly, the fact that radio wasn't interested in the Boys material hurts their general appeal. Evidently the singles simply didn't test well enough to convince programmers to play them more often. Regardless, selling over 27 million albums in the span of seven years is something to celebrate.



DEBORAH'S UP'S & DOWNS

Hey Keith,

I am looking for any information regarding Deborah Cox's new song "Up & Down (In & Out)." It's a great song, and deserves to chart high, however, I haven't seen it on any Billboard charts. Am I mistaken? Is there going to be a commercial single that could boost its chances to chart?

And how many consecutive No. 1 dance songs has Deborah scored? Is it any kind of record? (I need to settle a bet!)

Thanks for any info you can give,

Ryan Barrowman

Hi Ryan,

"Up & Down (In & Out)" is No. 58 this week on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, up from No. 65 last week. A 12" vinyl single is available commercially, but there are no immediate plans to issue the single in any other configuration. The track is the first single from the singer's third studio album, "The Morning After," due out Nov. 5 via J Records.

"After" is Cox's first album since 1998's "One Wish," which included "Nobody's Supposed To Be Here." That single topped Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and reached No. 2 on the Hot 100, and set a record for the most weeks (14) at No. 1 on the R&B/Hip Hop singles chart since Billboard began a combined airplay/sales R&B singles list back in 1958.

Regarding your dance query, Cox has had four consecutive No. 1 tracks on Billboard's Hot Dance/Club Play tracks ("Things Just Ain't The Same," "Nobody's," "It's Over Now," and "I Never Knew"). Several other artists have had longer streaks at No. 1, led by Madonna and Janet Jackson, who each have had seven consecutive cuts in the pole position on that chart.