Britney, Kid Rock, and other acts hope for a hit, but the biz braces for the worst
Michael Jackson
Credit: Michael Jackson: Kevin Mazur/

Though weeks had passed since the attacks, Ryan Mill, program director of Pittsburgh’s WBZZ, wasn’t sure if listeners were ready for Smash Mouth’s ”Pacific Coast Party.” ”It’s upbeat, short, and sounds like a beach song,” he says. ”I thought people were gonna be like, ‘How can you play this stuff?’ But they can’t get enough.” Soon, WBZZ was giving the song 14 to 20 spins a week.

It seems there are only so many times Americans can hear Lee Greenwood’s ”God Bless the USA.” Record sales dropped 5 percent the week after Sept. 11, but the music industry is now creeping back to normalcy. Early signs suggest radio listenership is up. Stations have even resumed playing Drowning Pool’s ”Bodies,” which includes the chant ”Let the bodies hit the floor.” ”A lot of people found out that their concerns [about the music] turned out to be unfounded,” says Sean Ross of Airplay Monitor.

Still, the real test of whether our tastes have changed comes in the next few weeks. Major acts are angling for a place on the charts. Here’s a tip sheet on the ”Billboard” battles ahead.