"The Now series continues to show itself as one of the great branding stories in the industry."
——Robert Stapleton, Tower Records


Jay-Z/R. Kelly, Glenn and Parrot Boy Bow Big, Norah’s Magical and Brother’s Still a Mother
Take a group of current hit singles, compile and unleash them into a singles-driven marketplace and what do you get? Duh…try the #1 album in the country.

This week, it’s UTV’s turn to milk the Now cash cow, as Vol. 9 continues what’s become a very profitable music-industry tradition. The latest compilation debuted at #1 on this week’s Top 50, thanks to the one-stop-shopping appeal of hit singles from Shakira, Nelly Furtado, Incubus, Britney Spears and many others.

"The Now series continues to show itself as one of the great branding stories in the industry," said Tower Records’ National Director of Sales Robert Stapleton, who still can’t avoid being typecast as Edith. "It’s simply an unstoppable franchise."

Making a solid #2 debut this week is Roc-A-Fella/Jive/IDJ’s Jay-Z/R.Kelly project, whose commercial appeal now equals the critical acclaim recently heaped upon it by this great nation’s wacky music critics.

"In spite of the bootlegs and rushed release, the Jay-Z/R.Kelly still debuted at #1 for us," said Tower’s Stapleton, as he tried to keep Sally Struthers from gnawing on his arm.

Other album chart debuts of note this week include Epic’s Glenn Lewis, which bowed at a very impressive #5. That feat marks the second consecutive week Epic has debuted a newcomer in the Top Five. (B2K—remember, stoner?)

This week’s Top 5 is rounded out by #3 Lost Highway’s O Brother and #4 Warner Bros.Linkin Park.

Amid all that, Mailboat’s (hey, it’s his own independently-distributed label) island-hopping boomer icon Jimmy Buffet further expands his multi-zillion-dollar empire with a #10 debut.

And PLEASE check out the numbers for Blue Note’s Norah Jones. This one is still in its embryonic stages, but it’s reacting to every bit of exposure and is about to embark on one of those organic sales explosions. O brother, could this one be big.

"Norah Jones continues to smoke at Tower. It’s been Top Five since its release," said Stapleton, whose sister Maureen was smoked in Airport. "She is one of the biggest stories of the year."

But let’s talk about next week, as industry weasel eyes are already focused on first-week sales for Celine Dion’s return.