After limping along on the charts for weeks, Aaliyah's new album shot to No. 1 yesterday, outselling Mary J. Blige's CD, according to SoundScan, which tracks retail sales.

Industry watchers say the R&B queen's death in an airplane crash was the impetus for the surging sales. Previously, Aaliyah had only a modest increase, moving from No. 27 to No. 19 last week. SoundScan said 305,911 copies sold for the week. 

Blige's new No More Drama came in at No. 2, selling 294,351 copies in its first week, and Slipknot's new Iowa took the No. 3 spot, selling 254,936 discs. 

"Aaliyah certainly sold briskly the first day" after her death, said Geoff Mayfield of Billboard magazine. "By the end of the week, it was easy to see she'd go to No. 1." 

At Tower Records on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Aaliyah was No. 7. "That's pretty typical when something tragic happens," said store manager Tim Devin, "Last week she wasn't even in the top 25." 

Her death has also created more interest in the film Queen of the Damned, due out Feb. 15. Aaliyah stars as a vampire.

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