Now 19, Mariah End R. Kelly’s Run At #1

Big names push latest Now disc to the top of Billboard's albums chart.

Gwen Stefani, Ludacris, Eminem, Coldplay, Destiny’s Child and Backstreet Boys are all intimidating retail powerhouses who, over the course of their respective careers, have sold millions of records. So R. Kelly’s ego shouldn’t take too bad a bruising this week: That gang of superstars has teamed up with Mariah Carey to knock him out of the top spot on the Billboard albums chart.

The latest installment in the Now That’s What I Call Music! hits compilation franchise takes the chart’s #1 spot this week, moving more than 436,000 copies during its initial week of release. The disc, the latest in the best-selling series, also features contributions from Will Smith, Amerie, the Killers, Shakira, 3 Doors Down and the Gorillaz. It clobbered the “Trapped in the Closet” mastermind’s newest, TP.3 Reloaded, in this most recent sales race by more than 300,000 copies.

Kelly was beaten less soundly by Mariah Carey, whose The Emancipation of Mimi lands at #2, scanning close to 90,000 copies its 15th week out, besting Kelly by approximately 6,000 units and bringing total sales to more than 2.6 million. Holding for a second straight week at #4 are Brit rockers Coldplay with X&Y. The disc netted seventh-week sales of more than 81,000 — about 20,000 copies more than Bow Wow’s new one, Wanted, which takes the chart’s #5 after debuting on the previous week’s chart at #3.

Sales of the Black Eyed Peas’ Monkey Business have been unswerving. The album jumps two spots on the albums chart to #6, moving more than 60,000 copies its seventh week on store shelves. Billboard’s second biggest debut belongs to Moonlight Serenade, legendary singer/songwriter Carly Simon’s latest release. That album opens at #7 with over 57,000 scans, just ahead of #8 holders Mary Mary; the sisterly duo’s self-titled LP scored first-week sales of close to 57,000 copies, edging Demon Days, the latest from Gorillaz, by more than 500 discs, landing the #9 spot for the animated rock troupe.

Foo Fighters climb back into the chart’s top 10 following sales of more than 52,000 for the band’s latest, In Your Honor, followed at #11 by original “American Idol” champ Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway, with Dave Grohl’s rock compadres selling just 150 copies more than the songstress. Slim Thug’s Already Platinum isn’t living up to its title where sales are concerned, checking in at #12 with second-week sales of 52,000. Ying Yang Twins take #13, scoring more than 50,000 in sales for their newest offering, United State of Atlanta, followed by Stefani’s solo debut, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, at #14 with sales of almost 50,000. Country star Toby Keith’s Honkytonk University boosts student enrollment by more than 47,000, an 8 percent sales spike its 10th week in release.

The latest Billboard list is speckled with a number of notable debuts, including B5, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ newest musical find, at #19. The self-titled debut from this band of five brothers (the B is short for Breeding, their last name) manages to score first-week scans of more than 44,000, making it the chart’s fifth-biggest opening. The soundtrack to Jessica Simpson’s film “The Dukes of Hazzard,” featuring the Allman Brothers Band, Molly Hatchet, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Charlie Daniels Band, and Simpson’s adaptation of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” claims the chart’s #33 spot, with sales of 26,000 plus.

A compilation disc from the president of Virgin Records’ urban division takes #43; Jermaine Dupri Presents … Young, Fly & Flashy, Vol. 1 features tracks from Young Capone, Bow Wow, Pastor Troy and Stat Quo, and achieves opening-week sales of more than 21,000 copies. Toronto-area Christian rockers Thousand Foot Krutch take #67 with more than 14,000 copies of their latest, Art of Breaking, flying off shelves, and European dance act D.H.T.’s Listen To Your Heart takes #78 with 13,000 plus scans. And in at #128, with sales of 8,000 and change, Essential Michael Jackson, the latest collection of hits from the pop star.

Check out “Mariah Carey: Free At Last?” for more on Mimi’s Emancipation.

Zombie’s No Reject
Rob Zombie’s having himself one crazy summer. The rocker’s not only headlining the second stage on the 10th annual Ozzfest, he’s also promoting his latest film, “The Devil’s Rejects” (see “Rob Zombie’s Second Movie Drags Horror Into The Daylight” ). It seems both endeavors are boosting sales of his 2003 hits collection, Past, Present and Future. During the previous chart week, the collection scanned just 4,000-plus copies, and only 2,800 two weeks ago. But this week, the album’s sales shot up 42 percent, resulting in close to 5,900 in sales — as well as Billboard’s #177 slot. The surge coincides with the launch of Ozzfest and the opening of “Rejects” last weekend, which brought in a $7 million box-office take.

Common Grabs The Gold
Two months after its initial release, Common’s latest, Be, has quietly racked up more than 504,000 sales, giving the Chicago MC the second gold record of his 11-year career (the first being 2000’s Like Water For Chocolate, which has sold more than 757,000 copies.)

Since debuting at #2 on the chart, Be has hung in the top 50, and has spent the last three weeks hovering around in the mid-30s range. While Common’s track “Go” continues to do well at radio and video, the success of the Kanye West-produced Be is rather unique, given the rapper’s modest profile. It’s a rare thing indeed in the rap game for someone like Common, who rhymes about love, commitment and faith, to achieve gangsta-level success.

(Check out chapters one through five of R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” on MTV Overdrive.)

For a full-length feature on Rob Zombie, check out “Throne of Blood: Rob Zombie Rules As New Horror Royalty” .