The producers behind the Now That's What I Call Music! franchise have come up with a winning formula: Assemble an album of hit songs from some of music's biggest-selling talents, release it for mass consumption and you're a lock for the Billboard albums chart's #1 position. This recipe has resulted in years of chart-toppers, and the 23rd addition to the Now kith is another winner.
With first-week sales reported at nearly 337,000, Now That's What I Call Music! 23 — a set boasting tracks from Fergie, Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Nickelback and OK Go, among others — runs away with the next Billboard belt. Now 23 outsold classical pop singer Josh Groban's latest by more than 65,000 units, according to the latest SoundScan totals; Groban's Awake opens at #2 with 270,000 plus scans.
It was a solid week for country artists on the heels of the Country Music Association Awards, with many of the artists honored experiencing big sales jumps. Keith Urban's Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing debuts at #3 with sales of 270,000 and change, followed at #4 by Sugarland's latest, Enjoy the Ride, which moved 211,000 copies during its first week in stores. Returning to the top 10 — climbing 11 spots to #8 — is Some Hearts from "American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood, who walked away from the CMAs with the Female Vocalist of the Year award and a 59 percent sales boost, moving close to 72,000 copies of her first LP its 52nd week in stores.
The soundtrack to the Disney Channel original series "Hannah Montana" slides four spots to #5 after spending two weeks at #1; the album racked up another 131,000 sales, for a three-week total that tops 616,000. Like Father, Like Son, a collaborative outing from Birdman and Lil Wayne, falls four spots to #7, with more than 72,000 sales, while Justin Timberlake's top 10 run continues thanks to his FutureSex/LoveSounds selling another 68,000 copies in its ninth week in stores.
A total of 23 fresh LPs make it into Billboard's top 200, with six cracking the top 10. In at #6 is the latest from rapper Jim Jones, Hustler's P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment), which earned week-one scans of more than 106,500. The Best of What's Around, Vol. 1, a Dave Matthews Band retrospective release, bows at #10 with 65,000 copies sold.
Tuscan-born tenor Andrea Bocelli's Under the Desert Sky debuts at #11 with 65,000 units sold, while the Foo Fighters' acoustic Skin and Bones opens at #21 with 49,000 scans. The Road to Escondido, a collaborative release from J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton, follows at #23 with 43,000 sold, and Only Hits — a compilation featuring Gnarls Barkley, Panic! at the Disco, T.I. and James Blunt — claims the #32 spot with 34,000 scans. Ricky Martin's MTV Unplugged debuts at #38 with 28,000 copies sold, while rapper Tech N9ne's Everready: The Religion rounds out the top 50 with 22,000 scans.
I'm Still Living, from Houston MC Z-Ro, claims the #75 slot with 14,000 sales. Bowling for Soup's The Great Burrito Extortion Case bows at #88 with 13,000 copies sold. Disciple's Scars Remain takes #118 with 9,000 scans, while Cadillac Don and J-Money's Look at Me opens at #156 with 7,000 sold. Pavement's Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels, a reworked reissue of the band's 1995 LP, debuts at #185 with more than 5,000 units scanned.
And finally, there's Kevin Federline's Playing With Fire, which debuted a week ago at #151 with sales of 6,500. Fed-Ex's entrée into hip-hop failed to chart following its second week on shelves, selling a mere 1,200 copies.