Nelly, A Perfect Circle No Match For Now 17

Pop compilation moves more than 407,000 copies.

When an album filled with hits from Ciara, Jadakiss, JoJo, Terror Squad, Black Eyed Peas and Ashlee and Jessica Simpson comes out, the competition doesn’t stand a chance.

The compilation Now That’s What I Call Music! 17, which also includes singles from Franz Ferdinand, Gretchen Wilson and the Beastie Boys, will bow in at #1 on next week’s Billboard albums chart, by selling more than 407,000 copies, according to SoundScan.

The latest in the slam-dunk series bested the #2 album, A Perfect Circle’s eMOTIVe, by more than a quarter-million copies. The politically charged covers album is the band’s third LP and also its poorest first-week performer. The more than 142,000 copies it sold, however, was enough to match the band’s peak #2 position, set by 2003′s Thirteenth Step.

Thanks to a relatively slow sales week, Nelly’s Suit was able to advance two spots to #3, despite a 10 percent drop in sales. The more popular of his two simultaneously released, eight-week old albums sold more than 117,000 copies. Its companion, Sweat, meanwhile, continues to slide, dropping another five spots next week to land at #23.

The laurels that continue to shower on the Ray Charles biopic, “Ray,” keep pushing its soundtrack skyward. After a sizable leap from #23 to #10 last week, the LP will move up another spot to #9 thanks to a whopping 47 percent increase in weekly sales, from more than 55,000 to more than 80,000. Conversely, sales for Charles’ duets album, Genius Loves Company, diminished by more than 13,000 copies, though the album will move up one spot to #7.

While “Ray” soars, the doomed duo of Jay-Z and R. Kelly sink. Their second collaboration album, Unfinished Business, will fall from its #1 perch down to #10, as weekly sales shrink 67 percent, from more than 215,000 copies to more than 70,000.

The rest of next week’s top 10 finds Usher’s Confessions advancing two places to #4 (with more than 114,000 copies sold); Rod Stewart’s Stardust … The Great American Songbook Vol. III losing one place to land at #5 (103,000); George Strait’s 50 Number Ones moving from #7 to #6 (94,000); and Trick Daddy’s Thug Matrimony: Married to the Streets slipping from #2 to #8 (81,000).

My Brother & Me has given the Ying Yang Twins something to get crunked up about. The spotlight shined on the Atlanta duo after they worked on Britney Spears’ last album, and they’ve managed to reflect some of that heat onto their latest effort, a remix LP of 2003′s Me & My Brother, which will take the #12 spot. Contemporary Christian pop-punk band Relient K will assume the #15 position with Mmhmm to round out the chart’s top-20 debuts.

Other notable debuts include John Lennon’s Acoustic at #31; Train’s Alive at Last at #48; the Rolling Stones’ Live Licks at #50; Live’s Awake: The Best of Live at #65; AFI’s best-of set, AFI, at #88; and the soundtrack to “Polar Express” at #115.

Now That’s What I Call Successful

Since the series began in the U.S. in 1998, the Now That’s What I Call Music! compilations have been so successful that the real mark of a chart champ may not be debuting at #1, but coming in ahead of the latest Now volume. Vol. 17, the third edition to be released this year, is the second one to bow in at #1. Vol. 15 deserves a break, though. It was going up against the massive first-week sales of Usher’s Confessions, which moved a whopping 1 million copies after just days on sale.

Besides Usher’s, other albums that have recently topped Now include ones from Linkin Park and country star Toby Keith, as well as the “Bad Boys II” soundtrack.

On the whole, the series averages first-week sales of 348,000 for each volume. The feather in its cap was placed in July 2001, when Now 7‘s 621,000 copies — the series’ highest tally — unseated ‘NSYNC’s Celebrity after that album sold a record-breaking 1.8 million copies.

With total sales nearing 50 million, Now is the most successful compilation series ever.

On The Move

Build-up for the country’s CMA Awards, which aired Tuesday, pushed albums by performers Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson, currently on tour together, a bit higher up the chart. Wilson’s Here For the Party will move from #21 to #17, while the duo’s Horse of a Different Color will take a five-step jump to #25. Residual buzz from the awards should push both albums up even further on next week’s chart, but big winners Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw are likely to get the biggest bump.

After an impressive #3 debut, Simple Plan’s Still Not Getting Any … took in less than half of its first-week total to fall eight spots down, and out of the top 10.

TV Triumphs

Television helped two albums take a big jump up the chart. As everyone’s favorite ogre comes to your living room with the home-video release of “Shrek 2,” its soundtrack will jump up 114 spots to #57. And with the new season of “The O.C.” in full swing, its album accompaniment, “The O.C.: Mix 2,” will move up 14 places to #90.

No Love For Twista

One go-round of Twista is apparently good enough for most fans. Despite getting heat from his track with R. Kelly, “So Sexy Chapter II (Never Like This),” Twista couldn’t do any better than #96 with a reissued version of his latest album, Kamikaze, which includes the track. Where most artists who reissue their most recent album with bonus tracks — most recently Usher — usually come close to the original’s first-week position, Twista’s  kick-up Kamikaze came up 95 spots short.

This story was updated on November 10 at 6:40 p.m. ET