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Now That's What I Call Music albums dominated iTunes in 2017

From BBC - December 7, 2017

If you think the instant availability of all of the music, all of the time has killed off compilation albums... you are completely wrong.

Apple Music has just revealed its biggest albums of the year, and the Top 10 includes four entries for the Now That's What I Call Music! series.

Now 95 is the most popular collection, coming third in the year-end chart.

Now 96, Now 97 and Now That's What I Call Christmas also feature in the countdown.

The list combines figures from Apple's streaming service, Apple Music, and the iTunes download store.

Only Ed Sheeran's Divide and Rag N Bone Man's Human outsold Now 95, which features such hits as Drake's One Dance and Clean Bandit's Rockabye.

Chart expert Fraser McAlpine believes the key to the series' success lies in its simplicity.

"The Now compilations are easy to digest, reliable guides to a constantly changing pop landscape," he told the BBC.

"Over the years, each new edition has become a time capsule, charting the changes in the nation's favourite songs, like a biannual report.

"So this year, we have seen huge rises in Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa's stock, while Justin Bieber's shares remain buoyant."

'Carefully curated'

The Now series has been running since 1983, when the first edition included Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart and UB40's Red Red Wine.

Although compilation albums had existed before, they usually consisted of cheap cover versions or songs from a specific record label.

The Now series' masterstroke was to broker a deal whereby two companies, Virgin and EMI, collaborated on the tracklisting.

The first album spent five weeks at number one and spawned an imitator - called The Hits - from rival labels Sony BMG and Warner Music.

By 1989, the commercial clout of these compilations was so strong that a separate chart was launched to stop them clogging up the Top 40.

These days, the Now anthologies continue to sell in massive numbers.

Now 95, released last November, was the UK's biggest-selling album of 2016, outperforming even Adele's 25.

Apple's most popular media of 2017 (so far)

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