Prince, Mario Winans Make Regal Debuts, But Usher's Chart Reign Continues

Purple pop star's disc included with ticket sales, causing confusion on chart.

Neither rock royalty nor a crooner rooted in the Lord could dethrone Usher from the top of the Billboard albums chart.

The R&B singer's Confessions extends its #1 streak to five weeks after selling more than 252,000 copies last week, according to SoundScan figures released Wednesday (April 28). Although his sales have been dropping slightly from week to week, the tremendous weekly tallies have already pushed the LP over the 2.6 million mark.

Propelled by the single "I Don't Wanna Know," Hurt No More by Mario Winans (of the celebrated gospel family) trails Mr. Entertainment by 30,000 copies, at #2.

Musicology, Prince's first major-label-distributed album in five years, sold more than 191,000 copies in its first week, bowing at #3 amid a U.S. tour and a blizzard of media coverage. In 1999 Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic debuted at #18 with more than 83,000 copies sold.

Prince's high numbers come with a hitch: Concertgoers who attended his shows received a copy of Musicology. The cost of the CD was included in the ticket price, which ranges from $47 to $75, and SoundScan is counting those tickets toward weekly album sales. However, although the tour kicked off March 29, only the four shows that have taken place since the album's April 20 release have been counted. Still, with an average of 15,000 people attending each concert, that amounts to an extra 60,000 copies. But even with that number subtracted from the total, Musicology would still be the third-best-selling album, since weekly sales of the #4 album, Now That's What I Call Music! 15, stand at 98,000.

Wu-Tang member Ghostface rounds out the top-10 debuts with his fourth solo LP, The Pretty Toney Album, at #6. Driven by the radio hit "Push" featuring Missy Elliott and the street single "Run" featuring Jadakiss, that album moved more than 68,000 copies.

Next week's top 10 will also finds Hoobastank's The Reason dropping two places to #5 (selling more than 72,000 copies); Jessica Simpson's In This Skin maintaining its grip on #7 (63,000); Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits dropping three to #8 (59,000); Evanescence's Fallen taking a step back to #9 (58,000); and Kanye West's The College Dropout hanging in at #10 (58,000).

With a new singer in tow and a single on the soundtrack to "The Punisher," Drowning Pool's second album, Desensitized, enters at #17.

Former MMMBoppers Hanson's first new album in four years, Underneath, lands at #25 on the back of the single "Penny & Me." The boys have a ways to go before rivaling sales of 1997's Middle of Nowhere, which has sold more than 4 million copies. Their mostly forgettable last album, This Time Around, debuted five places higher than their new one, with nearly twice as much sales action.

Other notable debuts include Fear Factory's sixth album, Archetype, at #30; Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society's Hangover Music Vol. VI at #40; stoner rappers the Kottonmouth Kings' Fire It Up at #42; the compilation Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1, featuring tracks from Sum 41, Alkaline Trio, the Ataris and the Get Up Kids, at #54; the soundtrack to "13 Going on 30," with contributions from Rick Springfield, Whitney Houston, and Liz Phair at #65; and the belated domestic release of Machine Head's Through the Ashes of Empires at #88.