Los Angeles – According to the Chinese calendar, 2005 will be the year of the rooster. Looking back at the year in music, 2004 goes down as the year of Usher, not only in pop, but certainly in R&B/hip-hop.
The seemingly invincible singer-songwriter commandeers the top of the R&B and pop charts this year, thanks to his album “Confessions.”
In the R&B realm, the Atlanta-based artist takes the No. 1 spot on year-end recaps including Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists-Male and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
That’s in addition to his status on the pop recaps: Top Pop Artists, Top Pop Artists-Male, Top Billboard 200 Album Artists, Top Billboard 200 Albums, Hot 100 Artists and Hot 100 Artists-Male.
“Confessions” sold 1.2 million copies during its first week of release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That feat earned the album kudos for the biggest sales week of the year for any album.
Spending nine weeks atop the Billboard 200, the set spun off three back-to-back No. 1 R&B/pop crossover hits: “Yeah!” featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, “Burn” and “Confessions Part II.”
A reissue of “Confessions” spawned another R&B/pop No. 1 single, “My Boo,” a duet with Alicia Keys. On Usher’s slate of future projects is the first release under his J Records-affiliated label, Us Records.
NEWCOMER DROPS A SMASH
Capping the year of Usher was a successful tour, whose opening act was another major R&B/hip-hop force this year, Kanye West.
The Chicago newcomer not only scored a best-selling debut album but also cemented his standing as one of this year’s go-to producers. His Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam debut, “The College Dropout,” has sold more than 2 million units and features such hits as “Through the Wire” (inspired by the artist’s near-fatal car accident) and “Jesus Walks.”
On the strength of those performances, West claims the No. 1 spot on two key recaps, Top New R&B/Hip-Hop Artists and Top New Pop Artists, as well as the year-end rap charts.
West also wears the crown on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Producers recap, thanks to high-profile collaborations with Keys (“You Don’t Know My Name”), Twista (“Slow Jamz” featuring Jamie Foxx), Janet Jackson and Brandy.
The end of this year also witnesses the release of West’s first project on his new label, Getting Out Our Dreams, through Sony Music Label Group U.S. Singer/keyboardist John Legend’s “Get Lifted” bowed this month.
‘DIARY’ WELL READ
Keys’ hit “If I Ain’t Got You” is one of four singles that have helped propel the popularity of the artist’s sophomore set, “The Diary of Alicia Keys.”
The song claims the No. 1 spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Airplay recap. Keys ranks at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists-Female chart and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Artists recap. That story translates to pop as well, with Keys picking up the top spot on the Top Pop Artists-Female and Hot 100 Artists-Female recaps.
Still riding on the success of its double-CD “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” OutKast ranks at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists-Duo or Group recap, as well pop tallies including Top Billboard 200 Album Artists-Duo or Group, Hot 100 Artists-Duo or Group and Hot Digital Tracks for “Hey Ya!”
Fantasia released her solo debut album, “Free Yourself,” Nov. 23. But the “American Idol” winner has already made a mark. The J Records artist’s lead single, “I Believe,” secures the top spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Sales recap as well as the year-end Hot 100 Singles Sales tally.