Madonna: Armando Gallo/Retna
Craig Seymour
September 18, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Tuesday Madonna unleashes her much anticipated (and much Napstered) album ”Music,” the follow up to ’98’s Grammy winning, quadruple platinum ”Ray of Light.” And, for once, the usually fearless 42 year old star is concerned about how her latest set will fare in today’s pimple pop marketplace. ”I’m not a teenager anymore, and I won’t pretend to be one to sell records,” she told Billboard. ”[But] I can’t lie. I care whether or not this record sells a little or a lot.”

But will the new mom, who gave birth to baby Rocco barely one month ago, be up for the arduous legwork needed to successfully promote the album? This question was raised after Madonna opted out of performing on this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, which would have spread word of the album to nearly 10 million potential buyers. And, so far, she’s done none of the morning shows and ”TRL” visits that usually accompany such a high stakes new release.

Most observers aren’t worried, though, because prior to her maternity leave, Madonna had already shot the covers of some top music mags and done the video for the single ”Music,” which is currently VH1’s most played clip. ”The setup has been terrific,” says Musicland’s director of marketing Scott Levine. ”People know she has an album coming out. And my understanding is that she’s going to be back supporting the record very soon.”

Try as soon as this week. Tonight (Sept. 18, 9 p.m.) on AOL, Madonna does her first online chat (perhaps to reach all those webheads who’ve been downloading ”Music” for weeks). And tomorrow at L.A.’s trendy Catch One disco, she’ll host the album’s star studded launch party, which is sure to attract TV crews and snap happy paparazzi.

And there are even bigger plans ahead. Maddy’s publicist, Liz Rosenberg, says the singer is ”in serious discussions” to do club dates in NYC, L.A., and London later this year. And she’s also ”in talks” to perform during halftime of the Super Bowl in January, when the album’s second single, ”Don’t Tell Me,” should have already been released to radio, MTV, and VH1. All of this adds up to a promising long term prognosis for ”Music.”

And the initial outlook seems healthy, too, with the title track holding at No. 1 for its second week on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. ”I think we’ll do very well with Madonna next week because there’s nothing around like it,” says John Artale, director of marketing at the 185 store chain National Record Mart. ”There has been such a dearth of new releases by big name artists.”

Still, Madonna’s teen pop worries aren’t exactly unfounded. If the album debuts at No. 1, as many predict, it’ll likely have a short stay, since 98 Degrees drop their new set, ”Revelation,” the following week. ”12 to 15 year old girls go absolutely bananas for these boy bands,” explains Levine, who thinks ”Revelation” will be September’s biggest record. ”’N Sync have proved that and the Backstreet Boys prior to them.” Yeah, but when they also give birth to two kids, THEN we’ll be impressed.

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