from Jam!Music: 'What's Black & Blue and platinum -- make that multi-platinum -- all over? The Backstreet Boys' new album. It arrives in record stores today as the biggest pre-Christmas CD release. Black & Blue is expected to exceed rival boy band NSYNC's North American record for first-week sales of 2.5 million, set in March by No Strings Attached. The two groups are based in Orlando, Fla., and share the same record label, Jive-Zomba.
'I bet we can break their record and our record combined the first week out,' Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean told Teen PEOPLE.
Backstreet Boys have sold 55 million albums worldwide in just three years. More than five million copies of Black & Blue -- not to be confused with the 1976 Rolling Stones album of the same name -- are being shipped in the U.S., with an additional 500,000 copies in Canada.
Even NSYNC's Lance Bass predicts Black & Blue will top No Strings.
'They will break the record. I mean, it's the biggest shopping week of the year,' Bass told The Toronto Sun in an exclusive Canadian print interview last week when NSYNC was here for two sold-out SkyDome shows.
'The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year. It doesn't bother us. We were surprised that we broke their record (1.3 million of BSB's 1999 album Millennium in its first week). But I think people focus too much on that.'
Black & Blue features 13 new songs, including a ballad written by Canadian Dan Hill.
To promote the new record, Backstreet Boys are on a whirlwind, 100-hour promotional tour of six cities on six continents. They've already visited Stockholm, Tokyo, Sydney, Capetown and Rio De Janeiro and arrive in New York City today.
NSYNC's Bass already has heard Black & Blue and says his rivals have a more adult-contemporary sound.
'It's way more ballad-y,' Bass said. 'I loved the first new song (Shape Of My Heart) they released ... I think they're just trying to change their market too much. It wasn't as fun as I thought it'd be.'
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