Britney, Nelly, Eminem Continue Chart Ride

It’ll be business as usual on next week’s “Billboard” album chart as Britney Spears, Nelly, Eminem, and the “Now That’s What I Call Music 4″ compilation continue to ride high.

According to weekly sales figures released by SoundScan on Wednesday, the “Now…” collection (which boasts cuts from Aaliyah, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Jennifer Lopez, Macy Gray, Blink-182, Smash Mouth, Marc Anthony, and others) will spend a third week atop the album chart after selling an additional 239,000 copies last week.

The top five slots on the album chart will remain unchanged next week, as Britney, Nelly, Eminem, and ’NSYNC line up behind the “Now…” collection. Spears tacked another 237,000 copies onto her 12-week total for her “Oops!… I Did It Again” to retain the number two spot. Spears’ sophomore effort is quickly closing in on the 5 million mark in sales and looks likely to pass it next week.

Nelly will be but a stone’s throw away from Britney on next week’s
chart, as the rapper’s “Country Grammar” sold just 48 fewer copies than “Oops!…” to remain at number three. St. Louis’ chief export sold another 237,000 copies of the album, bringing its six-week total to 1.3 million.

Eminem remains rooted to the number four spot despite seeing a significant sales bump. The rapper’s “The Marshall Mathers LP” sold 218,000 copies last week (8,000 more than the previous week) to bring its 11-week total to 5.6 million.

The pop princes of ’NSYNC round out the top five with their “No Strings Attached,” which sold 164,000 copies last week after 20 weeks in stores. To date, the guys have sold just under 7.3 million copies of the album.

With little in the way of big debuts, the chart waters are relatively calm. Late rapper Big L posts the week’s highest debut, as his posthumous “The Big Picture” lands on the chart at number 13 after selling more than 72,000 copies in its first week in stores. The week’s other notable debuts include
Jo Dee Messina’s “Burn” at 19, the “Coyote Ugly” soundtrack at 61, the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s “Vavoom!” at 62, Rancid’s self-titled effort at 68, Morcheeba’s “Fragments Of Freedom” at 113, and The Dandy Warhols’ “Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia” at 182.