Spears Launches Rock in Rio's Second Weekend

Brazil's Rock in Rio festival kicks off its second weekend tonight with a lineup of teen pop, featuring American superstars Britney Spears and 'N Sync. But the two acts — whose new albums sold nearly 18 million copies in the United States last year — may not be the biggest draw of the evening.

Sandy & Junior, a duo featuring 17-year-old Sandy Lima and her younger brother, saw their latest album, Four Seasons, outsell Spears' Oops … I Did It Again 4-to-1 on the siblings' home turf.

But festival promoters aren't so concerned about which act fans come to see — whether its top-billed foreign acts like R.E.M. and the Foo Fighters or locals like Moraes Moreira and Gilberto Gil — they just want fans to come.

Last weekend's attendance, 510,000, put the seven-day fest (Jan. 12-14 and 18-21) behind the pace for breaking the world record for event attendance — a record set at the first Rock in Rio in 1985, when 1.38 million turned out to hear music. The first, and most well-attended, Woodstock festival, by comparison, drew an estimated 450,000 fans in 1969.

Promoters scheduled 159 bands to play throughout the seven days and specially constructed a multivenue "City of Rock" in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro.

For fan convenience, each night has a loose theme. After tonight's teen pop extravaganza, tomorrow night will feature metal headliners Iron Maiden, Halford, and Queens of the Stone Age; Saturday night will feature rootsier fare, with the Dave Matthews Band, Sheryl Crow, and Neil Young on the main stage; and on the final night, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will take the stage, along with the Deftones and Silverchair.

Each night, the main stage also features several Brazilian performers, which serves to draw Brazilian fans to the foreign performers. But acts like Sandy & Junior are hoping the gig will raise their profile abroad, too. They are poised to enter foreign markets, with an English-language album in the works.

"Rock in Rio is going to open the doors to the outside world, but the CD will put us there for good," the petite, brown-haired Sandy told reporters ahead of today's show, which will be webcast on America Online and broadcast throughout the world on numerous television networks.

Sandy, a self-declared Mariah Carey fan, is closer in style to Canadian singer Celine Dion and has even recorded a version of "My Heart Will Go On" from the movie Titanic.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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