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Fall Arts Preview | POP EYE

Eminem's dual-threat dominance

A panel of experts says the rapper's hip-hop/pop clout makes him the act to beat in sales this season, followed by U2.

September 19, 2004|Steve Hochman | Special to The Times

When you're already perhaps the biggest presence in pop music and have had two of the biggest opening-week sales totals ever, what do you do for an encore?

If you're Eminem, you just do it all again.

That's the expectation for the Detroit rapper's upcoming album, "Encore," which is being widely predicted to be the hit of the fall and holiday season.

Radio programmers, music magazine editors and retailers surveyed in Pop Eye's regular look ahead at releases almost take it for granted that Eminem's new one will debut with a million-plus opening week when it comes out Nov. 16 from Aftermath/Interscope Records.

"Eminem is Eminem," says E Man, music director of hip-hop station KPWR-FM (105.9), an assessment echoed by counterparts Tawala Sharp at hip-hop/R&B station KKBT-FM (100.3) and Julie Pilat at mainstream pop giant KIIS-FM (102.7).

Of course, U2 is U2, and the Irish quartet is also high on the radar with its "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," coming on Nov. 23 from Interscope. Overall, it is the panel's No. 2 choice.

The third slot goes to Destiny's Child, with a double-CD set due Nov. 16 from Columbia Records. It features the trio's first new group recordings since 2001's "Survivor" album plus solo selections from members Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.

"Some smart money is on Destiny's Child," says Geoff Mayfield, Billboard magazine's director of charts and senior analyst. "But that has to do with choices the group makes with the material, and while Beyonce has become a huge star, this will be a gut check on the relevance of the group since it's been a while."

On the whole, excitement is high for the crucial holiday buying season with a schedule packed with major artist releases -- if anything too packed, with retailers wishing some would be moved to other, slower parts of the year.

Other panelists for this season are KROQ-FM (106.7) music director Matt Smith, country KZLA-FM (93.9) music director Tonya Campos, Rolling Stone assistant managing editor Joe Levy and Virgin Records stores senior music product manager Jerry Suarez.

Here's a breakdown of pop categories and the albums likely to dominate each:


Win: Eminem

Place: Chingy's "Power Ballin'," Capitol Records (due Nov. 16)

"The single is on fire," says KKBT's Sharp. "This is a dude coming off three back-to-back Top 5 singles, a three-times platinum album, and it's like he hasn't lost a step."

Show: The Game, title undecided, Aftermath/G- Unit/Interscope (Dec. 7). (See story, Page E47.)

"His name alone is already making noise, with Dr. Dre backing him up on his debut album, and he's part of G Unit," says E Man, noting that the L.A. rapper is also featured in a new cellphone TV commercial alongside Kanye West and Ludacris.

Dark horse/breakthrough: John Legend, The singer-songwriter is getting a huge boost from his association with West.

"He's a male Alicia Keys," says Sharp.

Also watch for: Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Lil Jon, Guerilla Black, Nas, Mos Def, Talib Kweli.


Win: Eminem

Place: Destiny's Child

Show: Hilary Duff, "Hilary Duff," Hollywood Records (Sept. 28)

Dark horse/breakthrough: Lindsay Lohan. Can the Disney star follow Duff's path to musical stardom?

Also watch for: Gwen Stefani's solo debut, Britney Spears' hits collection, the debut of "American Idol" winner Fantasia.


Win: U2

Place: Sum 41, "Chuck," Island Records (Oct. 12).

"Sum 41 took it to the next level leaving behind their lean pop-punk sound," says KROQ's Smith.

Show: Jimmy Eat World, "Futures," Interscope (Oct. 19).

Dark horse/breakthrough: Straylight Run, a new band featuring two former members of "emo" star band Taking Back Sunday.

Also watch for: Green Day, Social Distortion, Good Charlotte, the Used, Chevelle, System of a Down, New Found Glory, the Donnas.


Win: Toby Keith, "Greatest Hits 2, 1999-2003," Universal Records (Nov. 9).

"He had the biggest-selling album from beginning of November to end of December last year," says Mayfield.

Place: Keith Urban, "Be Here," Capitol Records (Sept. 21).

Show: Rascal Flatts, "Feels Like Today," Hollywood Records (Sept. 28)

Also watch for: Darryl Worley, Phil Vassar, Joe Nichols.


Win: Destiny's Child

Place: John Legend

Show: Luther Vandross tribute album, J Records (Nov. 16)


Win: Rod Stewart, "Stardust: The Great American Songbook Vol. 3," J Records (Oct. 19).

"What's different is it's a duets album," says Virgin's Suarez, noting that Stewart is joined by Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Bette Midler and others. "I don't think he could have done well with a third volume if it was just, 'OK, here are more standards I found.' "

Place: Kenny G, title undecided, J Records (Nov. 16).

The smooth sax man is joined by vocalists LeAnn Rimes, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan and others on pop standards and recent hits.

Show: Chris Botti, "When I Fall in Love," Columbia Records (Sept. 28)

"If you're a jazz fan you can appreciate it, but it's a real pretty record for pop fans too," Mayfield says of the work by Sting's trumpet player.

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