Who’s The Hottest New Star? It’s Michael Jackson
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Michael Jackson’s high-profile television appearances capped off by the Oprah Winfrey interview have reinvigorated his career, sending sales soaring for his 14-month-old ″Dangerous″ album.
Jackson fans snapped up 60,000 ″Dangerous″ albums last week, compared with 8,000 the week of Jan. 10-17, according to SoundScan sales data released Wednesday.
″Dangerous,″ which debuted at No. 1 on Dec. 14, 1991, also is leaping back up the Billboard 200 in its 63rd week. After bottoming out at No. 149 last November, the album reached No. 26 in this week’s chart.
″I can’t remember an album that opened that big and staged this sort of resurgence this late in its shelf life,″ said Geoff Mayfield, who manages the Billboard 200.
″Dangerous″ has sold more than 4 million copies domestically.
Jackson’s other albums also are getting a boost. ″Thriller″ is moving up a special chart for older albums, and even Jackson’s old Motown albums are doing better, said Mayfield.
The sales surge is attributed to Jackson’s media blitz this year, including TV appearances at the NAACP’s 25th annual Image Awards, the Clinton inauguration, American Music Awards and the Super Bowl halftime show.
Jackson also attracted attention when his lawyer held a news conference to deny rumors the entertainer hired a white boy to portray him in a Pepsi commercial, and when Jackson appeared at a news conference to unveil his Heal L.A. program for riot-torn Los Angeles.
The biggest event was the Feb. 10 prime-time interview with Winfrey on ABC. The show was seen in 36.6 million households, or on 56 percent of the televisions in use, acaording to the A.C. Nielsen Co.
Lee Solters, Jackson’s publicist, said the pop star’s recent appearances amounted to ″just a happy coincidence,″ and weren’t part of a campaign to boost Jackson’s sagging record sales.
″We did not set the inauguration date. We didn’t set the Super Bowl date. We did not set the NAACP (date). We did not set the American Music Awards date,″ said Solters. ″It happened that he was in town, not on the road and not recording an album.″
What makes the public appearances baffling to many observers is that Jackson doesn’t have much to sell beyond his ″Dangerous″ LP. He isn’t cutting a record and there has been no announcement of a U.S. tour.
″As far as timing is concerned, it’s a weird time to break this campaign out,″ said Billboard’s Mayfield. ″It does appear he wants to be in the public eye. I also have to concede they couldn’t have planned a lot of these things.″