Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile Is Top U.S. Seller

By Christopher O'Connor for Sonicnet on September 1, 1999

Industrial-rock band's first studio album in five years debuts at #1; Chris Cornell, Tori Amos albums also hit Billboard chart.

Record buyers felt Trent Reznor's pain last week, and they paid for it.

Enough of them bought Nine Inch Nails' misery-laden double-CD The Fragile to make it debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, ahead of the Backstreet Boys' cheery (and seven-times platinum) Millennium, according to sales figures released Wednesday (Sept. 29) by SoundScan. It will be the industrial-rock band's first #1 album.

Also making high-profile debuts on this week's chart will be albums by piano-balladeer Tori Amos, ex-Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, veteran singer-actress-director Barbra Streisand, R&B singer Brian McKnight and rap group the Terror Squad, which features Fat Joe and Big Punisher.

"[Recording The Fragile] was all about not being afraid, and it felt very liberating." ? Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails mastermind

The top 10: The Fragile (#1); Millennium (#2); Latino rock band Santana's Supernatural (moving up two spots to #3); teen pop singer Christina Aguilera's eponymous debut (#4); rapper Eve's Let There Be Eve ? Ruff Ryders' First Lady (#5, after debuting last week at #1); Streisand's A Love Like Ours (#6); McKnight's Back at One (#7 ? its title notwithstanding); country trio the Dixie Chicks' Fly (#8); rapper Kid Rock's Devil Without a Cause (#9); and teen-pop singer Britney Spears' ... Baby One More Time (#10, the album's lowest chart position yet). (Click here for a detailed top-10 albums chart.)

The Fragile, Nine Inch Nails' third album, their first studio album in five years, is drenched with guitar and piano overdubs, propulsive drum beats and aching vocals. With such driving cuts as "We're in This Together" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Into the Void," it won instant critical acclaim.

"I wanted to try new things, fully utilizing the studio, while putting more effort into melody and structure," Nine Inch Nails mastermind Reznor said in a written statement prior to the album's Sept. 21 release. "Instead of trying to analyze what I was creating, I just let it flow, to see where it went. It was all about not being afraid, and it felt very liberating."

The album sold 228,746 copies for the week ending Sunday, according to SoundScan data.

Amos, who recently wrapped up a co-headlining tour with Alanis Morissette and also is scheduled to launch her own tour Wednesday, in Dallas, will enter the chart at #12 with to venus and back, on first-week sales of 112,113. Like The Fragile, it's a double album. One disc of to venus and back features new studio material, including "Bliss" and "1,000 Oceans," while the other is a live-performance disc.

Cornell's first solo album, Euphoria Morning, which he co-produced with Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider of the L.A. rock band Eleven, will debut at #18, having sold 75,563 copies last week. The album's songs, including the single "Can't Change Me" (RealAudio excerpt), are more lush and quiet than those he wrote for the grunge standard-bearers, Soundgarden.

"Obviously, I had no interest in revisiting [Soundgarden] for many reasons," Cornell said recently. "My interests were already starting to go into different directions. And out of respect to the band, I couldn't re-create that [earlier sound], so why would I ever want to try?" (RealAudio excerpt of interview).

Streisand's album is her first since Higher Ground (1997), which featured her duet with Celine Dion, "Tell Him." This time around, Streisand's guests include country singer Vince Gill (on "If You Ever Leave Me"), '80s pop-rock singer Richard Marx and saxophone player Kenny G.

McKnight sings romantic ballads and songs of emotional struggle, including "Lonely" and "You Could Be the One," on Back at One.

Hip-hop albums from the Big Punisher?Fat Joe side-project, Terror Squad, and twin brothers Kane and Abel also will hit the chart this week. Terror Squad: The Album will enter the chart at #22, while Kane and Abel's Rise to Power, which begins with a female voice offering the parental advisory, "Lyrics and statements made by Kane and Abel are for entertainment purposes only." The 22-year-old twins face a federal trial on cocaine-trafficking charges in New Orleans in November; both have pleaded not guilty.

Other rock debuts will include the goth-metal band Type O Negative's World Coming Down (#39), singer/songwriter Ben Harper's Burn to Shine (#67) and Stereolab's Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night (#153), which continues the Anglo-Franco rock band's affinity for the bleeps-and-blips of analog synthesizers (and strange album titles).

Exiting the top 10 will be thrash-rap band Limp Bizkit's Significant Other, which spent four weeks at #1 in the summer. It was the only rock album besides The Fragile to hit #1 this year.

Rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard's N***a Please, a carnival of nihilism, anger, parody and humor, will plummet from its #10 debut last week, all the way down to #32.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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