Welcome to Dataspin, a weekly data visualization of whatever the fuck.
In October 1998, an innocuous little album Now That's What I Call Music! was released in the United States, featuring the likes of the Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, and Janet Jackson. If you're in your early 20s, it may have been one of the first albums you ever owned. Next month we'll be up to Now! 46, which may cause these same twentysomethings to say annoying crap like "God I feel so old!" or, less annoyingly, "That's a whole shitload of albums."
Forty-six is not a whole shitload of albums. Not for the Now! series. The U.S. was actually a bit late to this rocking Now That's What I Call Music! party, which began in the British Isles in 1983 and had spread to over a dozen countries before Americans even had the chance to experience the thrill of "Barbie Girl" (Track 13) immediately followed by "Karma Police" (Track 14).
The visualization above depicts an incomplete discography, by country or region depending on space*, of the worldwide Now That's What I Call Music! series. Beyond the traditional pop music compilations, this series includes Now That's What I Call Dance, ... Pop, ... Fitness, ... Comedy, ... Love, ... a Wedding, ... R&B, ... Disney, ... Classical, ... Running, ... Britain, ... Reggae, ... a No. 1, ... Chill, ... Musicals, ... Country, ... Party Hits, ... Motown, ... Power Ballads, ... Faith, ... the Modern Songbook, ... Club Hits, ... I Wanna Rock, ... Classic Rock Hits, ... Chinese, ... Jazz, ... Jazz Vocal, ... Jazz Ballad, ... Arabia, ... Vision, ... Xmas, ... Hip Hop, ... Japan, ... Pianissimo, ... Noughties, and ... K-Pop. On top of these are hundreds of decade compilations, special editions, and a VHS/DVD series.
Through 2012, over 880 Now! albums had been released worldwide, including 190 in the UK, 95 in South Africa, and 87 in the U.S. At least 10 more have already been released in 2013. The internet can't kill this CD fast enough.
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* For the purposes of visualization, the Denmark, Finland, and Norway releases have been combined into "Scandinavia"; the Portugal, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, France, and Belgium releases have been combined into "Western Europe"; and the Hungary and Poland releases have been combined into "Eastern Europe." Asia, referring to Southeast Asia, and Arabia are already their own designations. Note that Israel and Turkey are distinct from Arabia.