'N Sync Ousted From Top

Seventh "Now That's What I Call Music!" compilation seizes Number One

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'N Sync proved to be their own worst enemy on the sales front, as their new album, Celebrity, fell out of the top spot after a single week at Number One, ousted by Now That's What I Call Music! 7, the latest installment of the uber-popular series which features songs by Destiny's Child, Janet Jackson, Nelly, the Backstreet Boys, and, yes, 'N Sync.

Now That's What I Call Music! 7 is showing no signs of the fatigue that has riddled the rest of the charts this year. On the contrary, the series continues to grow like a tumor, selling 621,419 copies last week, according to SoundScan, handily topping the sixth incarnation of the series, which tallied sales of 535,000 back in April, and showing tremendous growth since the fourth volume, which a year and a half ago sold 240,000 copies.

Which brings us to a sales quagmire. Obviously the Now That's What I Call Music series is a raging sales juggernaut. But when one takes in Celebrity's second-week sales slip -- from a 1.9 million debut to 459,742 in its second week, more than the fifty- to sixty-percent drop a blockbuster usually suffers in week two -- there is obviously a conflict of interest here. The kids (or their parents) are more guarded with their billfolds than they were last summer, and the allure of a one-stop hits collection is proving undeniable. Plus they advertise their merch on television.

That scrap aside, there was an infusion of new blood into the charts in addition to Now. Snoop Dogg and his Eastsidaz chalked up more than 100,000 copies of their second album, Duces N' Trayz, for a Number Two debut, while R&B newcomer Blu Cantrell slid into the top ten with her debut, So Blu. The Rush Hour 2 soundtrack (Number Eleven), Gangsta Boo's Both Worlds (Number Twenty-nine), Bilal's First Born Second (Number Thirty-one), the Crystal Method's Tweekend (Number Thirty-two) and Blake Shelton's self-titled debut (Number Forty-five) also found their way into the Top Fifty.

And a little lower down, be it an O Brother windfall or just a triumph of the idie spirit, but Gillian Welch's third album, Time (The Revelator), released on her own Acony Records, chalked up nearly 9,000 sales, besting major label offerings including Judas Priest's Demolition and Perry Farrell's Song Yet to Be Sung, both of which just managed to slink into the Top 200.

Other notable sales numbers include Blink-182's Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, which moved past the 1 million copies sold mark and Nelly's Country Grammar which has now moved more than 7 million copies.

Next week Usher's much-delayed, much-anticipated third album, 8701 will join the fray and stands the best chance of working its way to the top.

This week's Top Ten: Now That's What I Call Music! 7 (621,419 copies sold); 'N Sync's Celebrity (459,742); Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor (189,131); Snoop Dogg and the East Sidaz's Duces N' Trayz (116,396); Staind's Break the Cycle (113,365); D12's Devil's Night (106,596); Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory (95,146); Blu Cantrell's So Blu (89,392); Destiny's Child's Survivor (80,163); and P. Diddy and the Bad Boy Family's The Saga Continues . . . (75,127).

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