Other superstars not burning so bright

By Michelle Kleinsak
Updated March 19, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

ROBBIE WILLIAMS The suave superstar — who’s sold more than 27 million albums worldwide — once sung that he ”put the Brit in celebrity,” but found fame elusive in the States. Despite tepid U.S. sales for 1999’s The Ego Has Landed and 2000’s Swing When You’re Winning, Williams inked a reported $200 million global deal with EMI, who hoped 2003’s Escapology (which sold 7 million outside the U.S.) would do the trick. It didn’t. The ego suffered a big blow when the disc — which included ridiculous shout-outs to L.A., Uncle Sam, and ”U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” — sold a meager 124,000 copies here.

THALIA She’s a Mexican TV star and global pop phenom (not to mention Mrs. Tommy Mottola), but the Latin singer had little luck getting the U.S. to say si to her first English-language album, Thalia (2003), which sold just 189,000 copies here. Even repeated TRL exposure for ”I Want You,” her duet with Fat Joe, wasn’t enough to break her north of the border.

LAURA PAUSINI The Celine Dion of Italy, this pop chanteuse reportedly shifted more than 20 million units of her previous Italian-, Portuguese-, and Spanish-language recordings. Her 2002 U.S. debut, From the Inside, included the ballad ”I Need Love,” which was featured on ABC’s soap All My Children. But like many a sudser romance, her affair with America wasn’t meant to be: Inside moved only 45,000 units. Ciao!