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Aaliyah Bests Blige, Slipknot For #1 Spot

Music fans mourning the passing of Aaliyah – and those curious about her legacy – will push the late R&B star to the top of next week’s Billboard 200 albums chart.

Despite strong debuts from Mary J. Blige and Slipknot, Aaliyah’s eponymous album will vault to #1 on the albums chart next week, a month and a half after its initial release. The singer died August 25 in a plane crash that claimed the lives of eight others.

Sales of Aaliyah jumped from 62,000 copies during the week of her death to 305,000 copies in the week that followed, bumping the album up from #19. Aaliyah debuted at #2 upon its release in July and dropped as low as #27 two weeks ago.

Renewed interest in the late singer will also push the “Romeo Must Die” soundtrack album (which features several Aaliyah tracks) back onto the chart at #164.

The sales surge also places Aaliyah just ahead of hip-hop diva Mary J. Blige, who will debut at #2 on next week’s chart with No More Drama. Blige’s fifth studio album sold more than 294,000 copies in its first week in stores.

Close behind are the masked men of Slipknot, who sold more than 254,000 copies of their latest effort, Iowa, to debut next week at #3. The debut is impressive for the hard-edged heartland metal outfit but falls short of industry speculation that placed the first-week tally at 350,000-500,000.

R&B singer/songwriter Brian McKnight, country star Toby Keith and up-and-coming rockers Puddle of Mudd will also boast top-10 debuts on next week’s chart. McKnight’s Superhero sold more than 150,000 copies to debut at #7, while Keith’s Pull My Chain sold some 119,000 copies to land at #9. Puddle of Mudd turned heavy radio and video airplay for “Control” into sales of more than 116,000 copies for Come Clean, which will debut at #10.

With six new titles crashing the top 10, some familiar names will tumble down the chart, including ‘NSYNC (down from #5 to #12), Linkin Park (from #7 to #11), Staind (from #9 to #13), the Isley Brothers (from #6 to #15), Jennifer Lopez (from #10 to #16) and Usher (from #8 to #20).

Meanwhile, the high times get a little higher for Afroman, who will see his single “Because I Got High” help his album The Good Times land at #14 on next week’s chart. Sonic adventurer Björk will also crack the top 20 when her Vespertine debuts at #19.

Next week’s chart will also see debuts from Krayzie Bone (at #27), Tech N9ne (#59), Brotha Lynch Hung (#79), American Head Charge (#118), Nicole C. Mullen (#123), Butthole Surfers (#130), Skillet (#141), Relient K (#158) and Stereolab (#178).

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