Week Ending June 17, 2012. Albums: Looking 4 Usher Fans

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

Usher's Looking 4 Myself debuts at #1, but with sales of just 128K. That's a sharp drop from Usher's last full-length studio album, Raymond V. Raymond, which opened with sales of 329K in April 2010. This is the lowest first-week tally for a regular Usher studio album since My Way started with sales of 67K in September 1997.

Everybody knows that sales aren't what they were in 2004, when Usher's Confessions sold 1,096,000 copies in its first week. But even compared to 2012 albums, this is a disappointing debut. Twelve albums have enjoyed greater first-week sales so far this year. And Justin Bieber's newly-released Believe is expected to sell in the 410K to 440K range this week. (It will debut at #1 next week.)

So, what's the problem? Looking 4 Myself has yet to produce a top 10 hit on the Hot 100. That may be about to change. The current pop-dance track "Scream" jumps from #14 to #11 in its eighth week. The previous, more R&B-oriented "Climax" peaked at #17. ("Climax" is in its 10th week at #1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.) Another track, "Lemme See" (featuring Rick Ross), jumps from #80 to #61 in its fourth week.

Despite the lackluster sales tally, this is Usher's fourth album to reach #1. Usher is only the fourth male R&B artist to amass four or more #1 albums. He follows Michael Jackson and R. Kelly, who lead with six each, and Prince, who has also had four.

Rush's Clockwork Angels debuts at #2. It's the Canadian band's 12th top 10 album. But here's the rub: Rush has never had a #1 album. In fact, this album puts the band in a tie with 1960s instrumentalist Ray Conniff ("Somewhere, My Love") for the most top 10 albums without a #1. But there's a key difference: Conniff amassed all 12 of his top 10 albums in the space of eight years, from 1958 to 1966. Rush's top 10 albums span 32 years. The band first cracked the top 10 in February 1980 with Permanent Waves.

(In case you're wondering, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and James Taylor are in second place. They have each amassed 11 top 10 albums without a #1.)

Clockwork Angels is Rush's second album to climb as high as #2. The band first reached the runner-up slot in October 1993 with Counterparts. It was blocked from the top spot by Pearl Jam's Vs.

Josh Turner's Punching Bag debuts at #4. It's the country star's fourth top five album. This is Turner's highest-charting album since Your Man debuted and peaked at #2 in January 2006. Punching Bag enters Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Alan Jackson's Thirty Miles West. It's Turner's second #1 country album, again following Your Man. (Scotty McCreery performed "Your Man" en route to his victory on American Idol in 2011.) Turner's current single, "Time Is Love," is up to #14 on Hot Country Songs. It's his 11th top 20 country hit.

Ed Sheeran's + debuts at #5. It's the first full-length studio album by Sheeran, who won two Brit Awards in his native U.K. earlier this year: Best British Male Solo Artist and Best British Breakthrough Act. The album hit #1 in the U.K. in September and returned to the top spot in January.

+ is one of the shortest titles to a top 10 album in history. Others that consist of just a single keystroke include the Beatles' 1, Foreigner's 4, Beyonce's 4, INXX's X and Omarion's O. (If you're wondering about R. Kelly's R., it had a period. Two keystrokes.)

One Direction's Up All Night holds at #6. It surpasses Whitney Houston's Whitney: The Greatest Hits to become the #3 best-seller so far this year. In addition, the boy band's DVD, Up All Night: The Live Tour, is #1 for the third week on Top Music Videos. It sold 25,000 copies this week, bringing its three-week total to 138K.

The Rock Of Ages soundtrack jumps from #15 to #9 in its second week. The movie is based on the 2009 Broadway show. This is the first soundtrack from a movie adaptation of a Broadway show to crack the top 10 since Mamma Mia! hit #1 in 2008. That was built around Abba songs, mostly from the 1970s. This is a celebration of 1980s rock. Rock Of Ages is #1 on Top Soundtracks for the second week. The movie got off to a disappointing start. It was #3 at the box-office over the weekend.

Tom Cruise sings eight of the 20 songs on the soundtrack, either by himself or with co-stars. (Cruise also sang in Top Gun, but he wasn't featured on the soundtrack.) Incidentally, this is the fourth soundtrack to a movie in which Cruise starred to make the top 10. It follows Top Gun (#1 in 1986), Cocktail (#2 in 1989) and Mission: Impossible 2 (#2 in 2000). (The soundtrack to Cruise's first movie, Endless Love, reached #9 in 1981, but he wasn't the movie's star. The male lead was played by one Martin Hewitt.)

Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the fifth straight week. Only one other song has had as many weeks at #1 so far this year. That's "We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monae, which was the top-seller for seven weeks. Will "Call Me Maybe" hold at #1 on the Hot 100? Probably, but you'll find out for sure later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

Pop Quiz: Three albums in this week's top 10 share titles with previous top 10 albums. Name them. Answer below the top 10 list.

Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.

The Top Five: Usher's Looking 4 Myself debuts at #1 (128K). It's Usher's seventh top 10 album; his fourth to reach #1. The album sold 50K digital copies, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums…Rush's Clockwork Angels debuts at #2 (103K). It's the band's 12th top 10 album…Adele's 21 drops from #1 to #3 in its 69th week (63K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time… Josh Turner's Punching Bag debuts at #4 (45K). It's the country star's fourth top five album…Ed Sheeran's + debuts at #5 (42K). It's Sheeran's first top 10 album.

The Second Five: One Direction's Up All Night holds at #6 in its 13th week (39K). The former #1 album has been in the top 10 the entire time… Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Americana drops from #4 to #7 in its second week (37K)… Alan Jackson's Thirty Miles West drops from #2 to #8 in its second week (37K)…The Rock Of Ages soundtrack jumps from #15 to #9 in its second week (36K)…Waka Flocka Flame's Triple F Life: Fans, Friends & Family debuts at #10 (33K). It's the rapper's second top 10 album. Flockaveli hit #6 in October 2010.

Quiz Answer: The recycled album titles in this week's top 10 are Adele's 21 (Omarion, #1 in 2006), Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Americana (The Offspring, #2 in 1999) and the Rock Of Ages soundtrack (The Band, #6 in 1972).

Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. The Beach Boys' That's Why God Made The Radio drops from #3 to #14, Big K.R.I.T's Live From The Underground dives from #5 to #31, John Mayer's Born And Raised drops from #7 to #11, Curren$y's The Stoned Immaculate plummets from #8 to #60, Carrie Underwood's Blown Away dips from #9 to #16 and Brandi Carlile's Bear Creek plummets from #10 to #51.

Metric's Synthetica debuts at #12. This is the alternative band's highest-charting album to date. Fantasies hit #76 in 2009…Now Country 5 debuts at #15. Four of the five Now Country volumes have made the top 20… Grace Potter & The Nocturnals' The Lion The Beast The Beat debuts at #17. It's the group's second top 20 album in a row. An eponymous album reached #19 in June 2010…Kid Ink's Up & Away debuts at #20. It's the rapper's debut album. I can't resist pointing out that The 5th Dimension had a top 10 album titled Up, Up And Away in August 1967.

Jimmy Fallon's Blow Your Pants Off debuts at #25 (far lower, I must admit, than I initially expected). It's Fallon's second chart album. His first, The Bathroom Wall, reached #47 in 2002. The new album features such high-powered guests as Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney, Eddie Vedder, Dave Matthews and Bruce Springsteen.

Fallon, who has hosted Late Night With Jimmy Fallon since 2009, is the third host of an NBC late night show to crack the top 30. Steve Allen, the original host of The Tonight Show, reached #7 with Music For Tonight in May 1955, eight months after the show debuted. The album consisted of instrumental music. (The versatile Allen was a composer and musician as well as a comedian.) Johnny Carson, who hosted The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992, was represented with a compilation, Magic Moments From The Tonight Show—Here's Johnny. The double-disk album, which consisted of music and comedy highlights from the show, reached #30.

Journey's Greatest Hits, the best Father's Day gift since the invention of the tie, vaults from #117 to #28 in its 219th week on the chart. It returns to #1 on the Top Catalog Albums chart, displacing Adele's 19. This is its 10th week at #1 on the catalog chart, which it first topped in June 2007. The album was released in November 1988.

The Broadway cast album to Once debuts at #92 in the first full week after the show won a Tony as Best Musical. The movie soundtrack peaked at #7 in March 2008 (after "Falling Slowly" won an Oscar as Best Song). Nine of the past 20 Tony winners for Best Musical are shows that were adapted or otherwise derived from movies. Once follows 1993's Kiss Of The Spider Woman, 1995's Sunset Boulevard, 1998's The Lion King, 2001's The Producers, The New Mel Brooks Musical, 2002's Thoroughly Modern Millie, 2003's Hairspray, 2005's Monty Python's Spamalot and 2009's Billy Elliott: The Musical.

Madonna's Celebration re-enters the chart at #132 in the wake of Madonna flashing her breast at a show in Istanbul. Personally, I thought it made Madonna seem a little desperate for attention…Bobby Womack's The Bravest Man In The Universe bows at #181. The soul legend first charted in 1968 with Fly Me To The Moon.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted was #1 at the box-office for the second straight weekend. The soundtrack jumps from #185 to #162 in its second week.

Coming Attractions: Justin Bieber's Believe is a lock to debut at #1 next week. Look for Kenny Chesney's Welcome To The Fishbowl to open at #2, with sales in the 185K range, and Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel Is Wiser... to open at a career-best #3, with sales in the 65K range.  Smashing Pumpkins' Oceania will probably open right around #6, with sales in the 45K range. Also due: Dirty Heads' Cabin By The Sea, Walk The Moon's Walk The Moon and Glen Hansard's Rhythm & Repose.