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Creed, "Now'' pump U.S. pop music sales

The music industry finally received the holiday gift it had been hoping for this week, as the album charts got a formidable one-two punch from alt-rock superstars Creed and the perennially popular “Now That’s What I Call Music” compilation series.

“Weathered” (Wind-Up), Creed’s follow-up to the platinum blockbuster “Human Clay,” sold nearly 900,000 copies its first time out, according to SoundScan data for the week ended Nov. 27. Those numbers made “Weathered” the biggest bow since ‘N Sync’s “Celebrity” shifted 1.9 million out of the gate last summer.

Nipping at Creed’s heels was the eighth installment of the “Now” series (Virgin), which scanned 549,000 units in its debut week. That’s only slightly short of the 621,000-disc debut performance from “Now 7,” which has sold 2.6 million copies to date.

The big numbers put up by Creed and “Now” were heartening to the record biz, since many of the season’s big-name acts have failed to deliver the kind of numbers they once commanded. New albums from both Britney Spears and Garth Brooks in recent weeks performed well, but undersold their predecessors by a wide margin.

Nevertheless, both artists’ latest efforts held up respectably in this session. Spears’ LP “Britney” (Jive) actually climbed 34% in its third frame, despite dropping a notch to third place. The teen diva got a boost from her Nov. 18 HBO special. Numbers for Brooks’ “Scarecrow” (Capitol Nashville), which fell to fourth, ebbed only slightly, as he, too, benefited from a slew of TV appearances.

Other strong bows this week included the aptly named “Cocky” (Atlantic) from rap-rock hero Kid Rock at No. 7, and “Missundaztood” (Arista) from rap/R&B songstress Pink, at No. 8.

In total, sales of this week’s top 10 records were more than 70% ahead of last week. However, they were down nearly 20% from the top 10 in the same week of 2000 (which included the Backstreet Boys’ “Black & Blue” and the Beatles’ “1” compilation).

Making their debuts further down the latest rankings were hip-hop knob-twiddlers Timbaland & Magoo with “Indecent Proposal” (Blackground) at No. 29, a greatest-hits package from Smashing Pumpkins (Virgin) at No. 31 and “Bulletproof Wallets” (Epic) from Wu-Tang alum Ghostface Killa at No. 34. New material from Jill Scott and Mick Jagger, as well as a live record from Sting, graced the charts at Nos. 38, 39 and 40, respectively.

Next week won’t see anywhere near the same kind of all-out chart assault mounted in the latest session, but expect strong bows from rappers Ludacris and Busta Rhymes, as well as the companion album to last month’s “Concert for New York” benefit extravaganza.

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