The Now That's What I Call Music! series continues to be a profitable one, lumbering along with hefty sales during a season in which record buyers are being more thrifty. The seventh installment of the series (featuring songs by Janet Jackson, Destiny's Child, the Backstreet Boys and others) sold 278,538 copies in its third week of release, according to SoundScan, to hold onto the Number One position for the second straight week.
Yawn, and 'N Sync's Celebrity handily occupied the second slot, you say? Naught. The summer's Rookie of the Year, Alicia Keys, and her debut album, Songs in A Minor, pushed from last week's Number Six to the second slot taking her tally beyond 1.5 million copies sold in eight weeks of release. The sputtering Celebrity (sputtering as much as an album within striking distance of 3 million units sold can sputter), settled in at Number Three, but its sales of 166,751 pale in comparison to the week four numbers of their previous album, No Strings Attached, which logged 422,000 units at the same point.
The remainder of the Top Ten looks pretty much the same, with the Isley Brothers' Eternal, Usher's 8701 and Jadakiss' Kiss the Game Goodbye moving from Numbers Three, Four and Five, respectively, to Numbers Four, Five and Six. The release of the film American Pie 2 had no small effect on the soundtrack. In the past three weeks, the album, which includes material by Blink-182 and Green Day, has shot from Number Fifty-eight to Number Twenty-six to Number Seven. It more than doubled it's tally from last week (50,837) with sales of 108,757.
But the Top Ten was missing debuts altogether. As a matter of fact, the week's two highest debuts come in the form of compilations: the metal mix Ozzfest 2001 sold just over 50,000 copies for a Number Twenty-five debut and the 2001 Source Hip-Hop Awards collection cleared 40,000 copies to bow in at Number Twenty-eight.
Pop, rap and R&B issues aside, it was a week in which an Americana synergy flexed its muscle. Alison Krauss and Union Station's New Favorite, Krauss' seventh recording with her first-rate band, was the week's highest debut by a non-compilation. Krauss and Co. sold 37,530 copies of New Favorite to land at Number Thirty-five. It would be difficult to determine which album affected which, but the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou?, which prominently features Krauss and members of her band, enjoyed an 18,832 copy sales increase from the previous week, pushing it one slot shy of the Top Ten, a position it has yet to reach. The acoustic muscle was also evident towards the bottom of the chart. The fresh-faced pickers of Nickel Creek and their self-titled, Krauss-produced album checked back into the Top 200 at Number 190 bringing its sales just 2,000 copies shy of a quarter million -- hardly a Celebrity, but still a colossus for the genre. And one spot higher, Gillian Welch's Time (The Revelator), released on her own Acony label, continues to lodge itself into the Top 200 in its third week of release.
Other notable chart action included Nelly Furtado's Whoa Nelly!, which, after thirty-three weeks of release, passed the 1 million copies sold mark. And Shaggy's juggernaut, Hotshot, topped 6 million copies sold just two weeks past it's one year anniversary.
With R&B proving to be the strongest presence on the charts this summer, next week, Maxwell's Now, his first recording of new material in three years, will be the strongest competitor in a field weakened by the delay of Mariah Carey's Glitter, which has been bumped to September.
This week's Top Ten: Now That's What I Call Music! 7 (278,538 copies sold); Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor (179,923); 'N Sync's Celebrity (166,751); Isley Brothers' Eternal (137,502); Usher's 8701 (126,880); Jadakiss' Kiss the Game Goodbye (112,242); American Pie 1 soundtrack (108,757); Staind's Break the Cycle (103,896); Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory (103,057); and Jennnifer Lopez's J.Lo (90,291).