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On the Charts: Usher's View From the Top

Plus: Journey never stops 'Believin',' album sales keep dropping

June 20, 2012 1:10 PM ET
usher
Usher performs at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo in London.
Christie Goodwin/Redferns via Getty Images

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Usher. In its first week out, the hunky R&B/pop veteran's Looking 4 Myself album hit Number One and sold 128,000 copies. It's not a lot for one of the world's biggest stars – Usher's last album, Raymond v. Raymond, sold 329,000 in 2010. But the album is packed with likely hits ("Twisted"), and his second single "Scream" is making a run on Billboard's digital-songs chart, selling 123,000 copies (a 28 percent jump) and hitting Number Seven. The "Scream" video, which incorporates footage of his appearance in an off-Broadway play, isn't exactly a blockbuster, but it has a respectable 2.7 million YouTube views, and an audio version adds another 4.7 million. On the Ultimate Chart, which measures Internet criteria, "Scream" isn't quite as bullish – the song drops two slots to Number 16. Still, we expect big things.

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Albums. Now that Adele's 21 is finally fading (we've probably written that sentence fragment 10 times over the past year, and it always seems to surge afterwards), album sales are drooping yet again. According to Billboard, overall album sales are down 3 percent so far this year, compared to the same period in 2011. Singles, however, keep rising – 6 percent compared to last year. The numbers show that music fans continue to wean themselves off albums (aside from the really strong ones) in the digital age.

CAN WE STOP BELIEVIN' ALREADY?: It doesn't matter how many times people repackage Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" – it will always, always succeed. It graced the 2007 finale of The Sopranos and Glee's premiere in 2009, and here it comes again, at the end of the soundtrack for the new movie Rock of Ages. This time, it's a show-stopping finale number featuring the voices of Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Mary J. Blige. The soundtrack, which also includes the stars' versions of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me," Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" and a number of other incessantly recycled Eighties hits, jumpes from Number 15 to Number Nine, selling 36,000 copies after the movie release.

LAST WEEK: The Beach Boys' Best Debut Ever

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

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