The sales race between Garth Brooks' "Sevens" and Celine Dion's "Let's Talk About Love" tightened last week, but the country superstar's collection held on for the victory.
According to figures from SoundScan, "Sevens" sold an estimated 685,000 copies, pushing its five-week total to a whopping 3.4 million--or about $42.5 million in retail sales. "Let's Talk" sold about 625,000 copies last week, bringing its five-week total to 2.5 million--about $31.3 million.
Meanwhile, Elton John's recording of "Candle in the Wind 1997" topped the nation's singles chart for the 14th straight week, selling an estimated 200,000. The charity record's total is now past the 8-million mark in the U.S. alone.
Here are some recent releases that are generating critical and/or commercial attention:
Garth Brooks' "Sevens" (Capitol). Brooks' strongest album to date is a 40-plus-minute couch session in which the good ol' boy becomes human-potential poster boy.
Celine Dion's "Let's Talk About Love" (550 Music/Epic). Dion's voice is a technical marvel, but her delivery lacks the personality and intuitive sense of drama that are a diva's stock in trade.
Metallica's "Re-Load" (Elektra). Less a sequel to last year's "Load" than a virtual repudiation of it, the follow-up is strong enough to make you forgive the band its past concessions to mass tastes.
Barbra Streisand's "Higher Ground" (Columbia). The heart of this studio collection of inspirational ballads showcases the kind of higher aspirations that are all too rare in mainstream pop.
The Spice Girls' "Spiceworld" (Virgin). If you're gonna conquer the world with your outrageous antics and messages of "girl power" and "positivity," you ought to muster a bit more zest for your second album than the English quintet has done here.
2Pac's "R U Still Down (Remember Me?)" (Amaru/Jive). This two-disc package shows that the slain rapper had a lot more to offer the world. Unfortunately, the material is culled from his least artistic period.