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ONE-DAY SALES:
USHER PACKS THE AISLES

Arista Soul Man’s Confessions Driving Consumers to Retail
It’s the rise of the house of Usher once more. This time around, though, it’s looking like a major leap ahead for the Arista R&B artist, as well as a definite #1 on next week’s chart.

As expected, according to early reports from national accounts, Usher’s new album, Confessions, is on track to sell a huge amount in its first week. What's unexpected, however, is that the album's first-week number looks like it will come in around 900k, and possibly more. Previous guesses had pegged it at around 700k.

While difficult to gauge after just one day on sale, most think the album will come in shy of a million, even if it continues to outperform throughout the week—though prognosticators say nothing is out of the question when a record is this big.

The major sales surprise follows a major radio story, where second single "Burn" is following in the wake of #1 barn-burner "Yeah," which features rappers Ludacris and Lil Jon.

Early success for Confessions represents a final feather in the cap for outgoing Arista execs and staffers including EVP/GM Larry Mestel and promotion head Steve Bartels, who are rightfully proud of pulling off such a big set-up and release under lame-duck conditions.

Responsibility for the project now falls to Joe Riccitelli and his Jive promotion squad, who will work with Usher co-managers Tommy Mottola and Jonnetta Patton, who also happens to be Usher’s mom.

Meanwhile, the second-highest debut on next week’s chart will be Now 15 (EMM), which looks headed for a first week of over 300k.

And coming out of left field is Bad Boy/Universal’s Carl Thomas, whose Let’s Talk About It is surprising everyone with first-day action pointing to a 150k week.

Vying for fourth-highest debut, meanwhile, are N.E.R.D.’s Fly or Die (Virgin) and Guns N’ RosesGreatest Hits (Geffen), each of which is likely to log a first-week total exceeding 120k.

Next week, it’s all about Janet (Virgin) and J-Kwon (So So Def/Arista).
HITS LIST: AMPERSANDS
Dynamic duos (12/6a)
NEAR TRUTHS:
WINNING NOMINATIONS
I.B. Bad on music's biggest comeback (12/6a)
ON THE COVER: LADY GAGA & TONY BENNETT
It's De-Lovely. (12/6a)
CALLING THE PLAYS:
JOHN JANICK
We salute the winner and still champ. (12/6a)
SONG STREAMS:
'TIS THE SEASON
It's beginning to look a lot like Xmas. (12/6a)
CHESTNUTS
Roasting.
STOCKINGS
Stuffing.
PIPERS
Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
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