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Bestselling CDs

Notable CDs | The five bestselling internet albums according to Billboard, Feb. 26

Issue: "Big mouth on campus," March 12, 2005

Bestselling CDs

The five bestselling internet albums according to Billboard magazine, Feb. 26

1. IT'S TIME - Michael Bublé

Weeks on the chart: 1

Style: The freshest big-band/swing arrangements of several generations' worth of romantic pop standards that major-label money can buy.

Worldview: That given the right interpreter, the love songs of one's grandparents (George and Ira Gershwin) and parents (the Beatles, Stevie Wonder) can still speak to today's young lovers.

Overall quality: As a singer, Mr. Bublé is to Harry Connick Jr. as Harry Connick Jr. is to Frank Sinatra.

2. THE 5 BROWNS - The 5 Browns

Weeks on the chart: 1

Style: Solo and multiple-piano arrangements of Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Prokofiev, et al.

Worldview: The Browns "want to reach out to a new generation-their generation-one that has been fed on commercial pop and has yet to discover what the Browns know: that classical music can be interesting and cool" (from the notes).

Overall quality: The familiar melodies and muted acoustics create a predominantly (albeit classy) "dinner music" mood.

3. ALL THE BEST - Tina Turner

Weeks on the chart: 1

Style: Tina Turner's greatest (and mostly Ike Turner-less) big-voiced hits and misses.

Objectionable material: The implicitly extramarital sensuality of "Steamy Windows."

Worldview: "Paradise is here. / It's time to stop your crying. / The future is this moment / and not some place out there" ("Paradise Is Here").

Overall quality: Disc one is a chronological and stylistic mess, disc two the best Ike-free testament to the durability of Ms. Turner's talent to date.

4. TOTALLY COUNTRY VOL. 4 - Various artists

Weeks on the chart: 1

Style: Contemporary country chart-toppers.

Objectionable material: Occasional casual cursing and/or playful, good-ol'-boy raunchiness.

Worldview: That in country music as in the kingdom of heaven, the tares and the wheat grow together.

Overall quality: The edifying (or at worst harmlessly sentimental) songs outnumber the crude (or at best cloyingly sentimental) songs approximately three to one.


Weeks on the chart: 20

Style: Catchy if derivative punk.

Objectionable material: Obscenities ("I Don't Care," "Tales of Another Broken Home," "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "Letterbomb," "Homecoming," "East 12th St.," "Nobody Likes You," "We're Coming Home Again," the title cut).

Worldview: "We are the stories and disciples of the Jesus of suburbia, land of make believe. / And it don't believe in me, and I don't care!"

Overall quality: Teen angst sympathetically (if crudely) expressed.

In the spotlight

Conservatives should be the first to welcome the success of the young singer Michael Bublé and the even younger pianists the 5 Browns. Not only are their repertoires (big-band/swing and classical music, respectively) rooted in traditional esthetic ideas, but both repertoires also require just the kind of reinvigoration that Mr. Bublé and the Browns give them to avoid becoming musical dead languages.

The only problem is that, as there are many big-band and classical-piano recordings of significantly greater artistic merit, it's possible that It's Time (143/Reprise) and The 5 Browns (Red Seal) are selling because of their nonmusical qualities: specifically, Mr. Bublé's fashion-model looks and the Browns' siblinghood and ability to play five pianos simultaneously (and their fashion-model looks). "Novelty" such qualities are called, and novelty, by definition, is fleeting.


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