JUANITA BYNUM is a spiritual singer, author, preacher and self-described prophet from Waycross, Ga., and now her resume has a glowing new credit: Her CD "Piece of My Passion" outsold every other new release in the country last week, making it the highest debuting title on the U.S. pop charts.
But, with no disrespect to Bynum, that says more about the state of CD sales in the current marketplace than it does about Bynum's fan base. "Piece of My Passion" sold only 16,000 copies and rose only to No. 55 on the sales chart compiled by Nielsen SoundScan. The only other debut in the Top 100 is Too Short's "Pimpin' Inc." at No. 80. (Next week there should be a bigger stir on the chart; new in the record store this week are CDs from Josh Turner, Il Divo, Yellowcard, P.O.D. and Rosanne Cash.)
Not only were new releases sparse, sales at the top of the chart were thin.
Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx, whose campaign to launch a music career has been wildly successful, held on to No. 1 with "Unpredictable." But the CD sold only 97,000 copies. It was the first time in two years that a title selling fewer than 100,000 copies held the tally's top slot. Foxx should do better next week: NBC was scheduled Wednesday night to air a music special starring Foxx with guest stars Snoop Dogg and Mary J. Blige.
Television is huge when it comes to CD sales now, which is made clear by the number of "American Idol" veterans on the chart: Carrie Underwood (at No. 4), Kelly Clarkson (No. 12) and Bo Bice (No. 44). "Oprah" is known more for goosing book sales, but an appearance by Neil Diamond on her show last week sent the singer's "12 Songs" CD from No. 119 to No. 22, with sales of 27,000 copies, nearly quadrupling its prior week figure.