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POP ALBUMS

'Pop' Goes the Album : What's Happening

After a week on top, U2's album is knocked off its perch by Scarface.

March 20, 1997

U2's position at the top of the national album chart with its new "Pop" collection lasted only a week. Rapper Scarface's "Untouchable" took over at No. 1 with sales of nearly 169,000 copies, pushing "Pop" to No. 2, based on sales of about 150,000, according to SoundScan. Sales of "Pop," however, are expected to pick up again when U2 begins its world tour next month in Las Vegas and is the subject of a one-hour prime-time ABC-TV special set to air April 26. Meanwhile, the "Selena" soundtrack entered the chart at No. 20.

What's Hot

Here are some recent releases that are generating critical or commercial attention:

Erykah Badu's "Baduizm" (Universal). A seductive, soothing amalgamation of black-nationalist politics, romance, jazz poetry and hip-hop sass.

Enrique Iglesias' "Vivir" (Fonovisa). More pop formula--corny love ballads, conventional arrangements--from Julio's mega-star son.

Pavement's "Brighten the Corners" (Matador/Capitol). Like Beck, Pavement unreels long strings of imagery, concocting a disarming blend of charm and mystery.

Spice Girls' "Spice" (Virgin). This sexy, prepackaged, female version of the Monkees appears shamelessly one-dimensional--even if it's all in the name of fun.

Jimmy Smith Trio's "The Master II" (Blue Note). The innovative organist delivers danceable whine and grind with help from guitarist Kenny Burrell.

U2's "Pop" (Island). Engrossing mix of the energy of the dance music scene with songs that explore questions of personal and spiritual ideals and doubts.

Various artists' "Gridlock'd" soundtrack (Death Row/Interscope). With "Life Is a Traffic Jam," the late Tupac Shakur proves himself a true warrior poet, with an artistic range that extends even to jazz.

What's New

Aerosmith's "Nine Lives" (Columbia), Graham Revell's "Vision II" (Angel), Watts Prophets' "When the '90s Came" (fffr/London).

What's Coming

Tuesday: The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Life After Death . . . 'Til Death Do Us Part" (Arista), Warren G's "Take a Look Over Your Shoulder" (G Funk Music/RAL/Def Jam), Alison Krauss & Union Station's "So Long So Wrong" (Rounder), Charlie Hunter Quartet's "Natty Dread" (Blue Note), Dinosaur Jr.'s "Hand It Over" (Reprise), Antonio Hart's "Here I Stand" (Impulse!), Nanci Griffith's "Blue Roses From the Moon" (Elektra).

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