Having sold nearly 1.1 million copies of his new album, Confessions, in its first week, Usher will rise to the top of next week’s Billboard albums chart, leaving a stream of broken records in his wake.
With those numbers, the R&B star has the highest opening-week sales of any album released this year, and the seventh best of the SoundScan era, behind ‘NSYNC’s No Strings Attached (2.3 million) and Celebrity (1.8 million), Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP (1.7 million), Backstreet Boys’ Black & Blue (1.5 million), Britney Spears’ Oops! … I Did It Again (1.3 million) and Backstreet Boys’ Millennium (1.1 million).
But the accolades for the smooth-crooning ladies’ man don’t stop there.
Usher wins the distinction of having the highest first-week total of any R&B artist in SoundScan’s 13-year history — his sales numbers crush those of R. Kelly, who sold more than 543,000 copies of TP-2.com in 2000, and Destiny Child’s Survivor, which moved 663,000 in May 2001. It’s also the best one-week total of any male artist since Eminem released The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000.
Usher’s follow-up to 2001′s 8701 also has the highest first-week figure of any album released by Arista Records, trumping the total of the Notorious B.I.G.’s posthumously released Life After Death in 1997, which sold more than 689,000 copies. Confessions also betters one-week sales of the Arista-released soundtrack to Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard,” which sold more than 1 million copies in December 1992.
The success arrives a week after the 30-year-old label dissolved into Jive Records.
“To see that this album has sold a million in one week is history,” Usher said. “I’m happy, I’m privileged. It says a lot for what R&B is capable of. I don’t think that everybody could do it. It’s not something that is very easy to do. I can’t say that it has happened based off of just this one album. All of the albums in the past, all of the support of the people who have been with me through this journey, and the new people I am introducing myself to, have made it possible.”
Usher’s first #1 album, fueled by the strength of its first single, “Yeah!,” and plenty of press (see “The Road To Confessions: How Usher ‘Shook A Million’ “ ), also sold nearly three times the first-week totals of his previous four releases, including 1999′s Live, combined.
The 15th installment of the Now That’s What I Call Music! series, featuring contributions from Britney Spears, Chingy, Eamon and Jessica Simpson, will come in at #2, having sold more than 343,000 copies; followed by Guns N’ Roses Greatest Hits at #3, with more than 168,000 copies sold.
Carl Thomas’ second album, Let’s Talk About It, will land at #4, propelled by its single “Make It Alright.” The R&B singer’s follow-up to 2000′s Emotional sold more than 138,000 copies in its first week.
The four new releases force Norah Jones, whose Feels Like Home held the top spot for six consecutive weeks, down to #5, with more than 121,000 copies sold.
Fly or Die, the second album by N.E.R.D., will come in at #6. The 119,000 copies it sold in its first week is a huge improvement over Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams, and vocalist Shay’s debut LP, 2002′s In Search Of …, which bowed in at #61, with just 20,000 copies sold.
Rounding out next week’s top 10 will be Evanescence’s Fallen, stepping back four places to #7 (with more than 93,000 copies sold); Kanye West’s The College Dropout, slipping two spots to #8 (87,000); Jessica Simpson’s In This Skin, falling five spots to #9 (86,000); and Kenny Chesney’s When the Sun Goes Down, moving from #7 to #10 (74,000).
Master P’s Good Side/ Bad Side, the No Limit leader’s follow-up to 2001′s Game Face, just barely misses the top 10, sticking at #11 with more than 68,000 copies. It places ahead of Cypress Hill’s seventh album, Till Death Do Us Part, at #21; Aussie rockers the Vines’ second album, Winning Days, at #23; and Dirty South rapper Pastor Troy’s By Any Means Necessary at #30.
Other notable releases on next week’s chart include “The Punisher” soundtrack at #33; Knoc-Turn’al’s The Way I Am at #36; Soil’s Redefine at #78; the Descendents’ Cool to Be You at #143; Widespread Panic’s Night of Joy and Iron & Wine’s Our Endless Numbered Days tied at #157; Blonde Redhead’s Misery Is a Butterfly at #180; and the soundtrack to “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” at #198.
For a feature on Usher, check out “Usher: Souled Out.”
This story was updated on March 31 at 2:54 p.m. ET