Usher has hit a gusher. His ''Confessions'' sold 1.1 million copies this week, a record opening for a male R&B artist in the 13 years since SoundScan began measuring sales, and the best sales week for any CD since June 2002, when Eminem sold 1.3 million copies of ''The Eminem Show.'' ''Confessions'' not only dethroned Norah Jones' ''Feels Like Home'' as the top-selling debut of 2004 (she sold 1.02 million copies her first week) but also from its six-week reign at the top of the Billboard album chart (it fell to No. 5 and shifted another 121,000 units).
Usher's feat was all the more remarkable in that it occurred during a week when five new releases jockeyed for slots in the top 10. Opening in second place was ''NOW That's What I Call Music! Vol. 15,'' with sales of 343,000. Guns N' Roses' ''Greatest Hits'' debuted at No. 3 and sold 169,000 copies, over the objections of Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan, who failed in their legal bid to keep Geffen from releasing the disc, which they said was compiled without their input. R&B singer Carl Thomas entered the chart in fourth place with ''Let's Talk About It'' (139,000 sold). And Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo's N.E.R.D. enjoyed its best sales week ever with the No. 6 debut of ''Fly or Die'' (119,000 copies).
The new releases pushed Evanescence's ''Fallen'' down four notches to No. 7. Kanye West's ''The College Dropout'' dropped two grades to No. 8. Jessica Simpson's ''In This Skin'' fell five spots to ninth place, and Kenny Chesney's ''When the Sun Goes Down'' slipped three slots to No. 10.