While a chart-topping showdown between R&B's young and older guard seemed set, Usher's Confessions met its biggest challenge in five weeks, but not by Prince's Musicology, but instead Mario Winans' Hurt No More. Confessions sold 253,000 copies, according to Nielsen Soundscan, to spend its fifth consecutive week at Number One. Winans posted a strong debut, though, as Hurt No More, sold 223,000 copies at Number Two.
That battle takes nothing away from Musicology, which sold 191,000 copies at Number Two. It was Prince's best tally in years. His last major label release, 1999's Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic made a Number Eighteen bit with sales of 84,000, and miffed with the promotion it received, Prince split from Arista and released his next two albums - the jam-centric The Rainbow Children in 2001 and the instrumental N.E.W.S. in 2003 - independently, neither of which broke into the Top 100.
Sales in the Top 200 were up from 3.5 million on last week's chart to 3.95 million this week. A handful of other debuts fared well including Ghostface Killah's Pretty Toney (Number Six, 69,000 copies sold), Mercy Me's Undone (Number Twelve, 56,000), Drowning Pool's Desensitized (Number Seventeen, 42,000) and Hanson's independently-released Underneath (Number Twenty-five, 38,000).
Among the biggest movers and shakers of late have been Texas blues brothers Los Lonely Boys. The sibling trio's self-titled album was at Number 100 two weeks ago, but has climbed to Number Sixty-four with sales of 16,000. And the buzz is paying off for Scotland's Franz Ferdinand, who after weeks of quietly sitting outside the Top 200, have worked their way up to Number 126 with sales of 9,000.
As for next week, Usher's Confessions is going to need a hearty sales spike to make it six weeks at Number One, as Eminem side project D12 put their second album in record stores yesterday.
This week's Top Ten: Usher's Confessions; Mario Winans' Hurt No More; Prince's Musicology; Now That's What I Call Music! 15; Hoobastank's The Reason; Ghostface Killah's Pretty Toney; Jessica Simpson's In This Skin; Guns n' Roses' Greatest Hits; Evanescence's Fallen; and Kanye West's College Drop Out.