Keys in familiar territory

No. 3 'Juno' makes Rhino history

Alicia Keys' smash album is back where it started.

In a frame in which no album topped the 100,000-unit mark, "As I Am" ascends to the summit of the Billboard 200 this week for the first time since debuting there in mid-November. That's no small feat in itself, but even more extraordinary is that the record has yet to drop below No. 3.

The last disc to spend its first nine weeks in such lofty environs was Usher's nine-times-platinum "Confessions." But "As I Am," which already has scanned 2.7 million copies, has some serious work ahead to match that 2004 blockbuster: It hung in the top three for 17 chart weeks.

Meanwhile, Rhino Records has something to snort about: Its "Juno" soundtrack hits No. 3 for the week ending Jan. 13, becoming the label's highest-charting album. The little soundtrack that could sees a 78% sales increase over last week. With no major titles streeting this week, "Juno" has its eye on the zenith.

Soundtracks from music-driven films have done well in January, when album sales historically are dreary. "Dreamgirls" rose to No. 1 last year, and others to vault up the chart in the year's first month include "Chicago" (No. 2, 2003), "Save the Last Dance" (No. 3, 2001), "Titanic" (No. 1, 1998), "Romeo + Juliet" (No. 2, 1997), "Evita" (No. 2, 1997) and "Waiting to Exhale" (No. 1, 1996).

About 7.3 million albums were sold last week, down 20% from the previous frame and 10% from the same week in 2007.

Billboard analyst Keith Caulfield contributed to this report.
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