Housing his consecutive top five singles Climax and Scream, Usher's seventh studio album Looking 4 Myself toppled Sing in the first midweek sales flashes and looked capable of becoming his fourth number one but it faded considerably as the week progressed, and ends up debuting at number three (26,965 sales). It is the second Usher album in a row to set the early pace but fall short of the summit, following Raymond V Raymond, which debuted at number two in 2010 on sales of 40,788 - 213 behind Plan B's The Defamation Of Strickland Banks - after having a 20% lead whittled away. Immediately before that, Usher had three number one albums in a row: Here I Stand opened at number one in 2008 on sales of 56,897; 2004 release Confessions topped the list with first week sales of 98,272, and 2001's 8701 claimed pole position on introductory sales of 42,706.
Amy Macdonald racks up her third consecutive top five album in less than five years, debuting at number two (26,981 sales) with Life In A Beautiful Light, as first single Slow It Down debuts at number 45 (7,106 sales). Macdonald's 2007 debut album This Is The Light debuted at number two on sales of 29,390, eventually topping the chart 23 weeks later, and her second album, A Curious Thing, debuted and peaked at number four in 2010, with first week sales of 42,372.
Chasing their third consecutive Top 10 album, Geordie rock band Maximo Park fall short with The National Health - their first album for V2 after three for Warp - debuting at number 13 (9,809 sales). Their highest chart placing came two albums and five years ago, when Our Earthly Pleasures debuted at number two, behind Kings Of Leon's Because Of The Times. Hot Chip are also with a new label (Domino instead of EMI), and also fall short of the Top 10, with In Our Heads debuting at number 14 (9,699 sales).
20 years after its original release, Fleetwood Mac's 25 Years: The Chain debuts at number nine (13,165 sales). The clue to its age is in the title. Fleetwood Mac's recording career started in 1967, and 25 Years: The Chain is a 4CD set of hits, album tracks, alternate takes and rare mixes that was first issued to mark those 25 years in 1992 but failed to chart. Its re-promotion comes at a more affordable price point: originally retailing for around £40, it is now widely available for around £12, and was advertised on TV last week as a Father's Day gift. The Stone Roses' Very Best Of compilation - a number 19 album in 2002 that last charted in 2005 - is a re-entry at number 21 (6,801 sales) as the reconvened Manchester band continues its reunion tour.
Also new to the Top 75 in another busy week: The Classics (number 22, 6,648 sales), a new Johnny Cash compilation; Official Release Series Discs 1-4 (number 30, 5,144 sales), a Neil Young box set, comprising the 2009 remasters of his first four studio albums; Trouble (number 35, 4,371 sales), the debut album by dance DJ Orlando Higginbottom in his Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (TEED) guise; Latino (number 38, 4,200 sales), the debut album by 29 year old classical guitarist Milos Karadaglic from Montenegro; The Bravest Man In The Universe (number 49, 3,509 sales), 68 year old R&B legend Bobby Womack's debut XL recordings set, his third chart album, and his first since 1985; Analog Man (number 53, 3,421 sales), 64 year old former Eagles legend Joe Walsh's first solo chart foray since But Seriously Folks in 1978.
It has been available for 28 years continuously, so it's a bit surreal to see the current TV campaign for Bob Marley & The Wailers' definitive compilation Legend revealing that it is 'out now'. It's serving the old warhorse well, however. Doubtless also helped by the recent cinematic release of the Marley documentary film, the album climbs 28-20 this week (7,178 sales), to secure its highest chart position since 2003. Number one for 12 straight weeks following its May 1984 release, Legend has cumulative sales of 3,082,901, making it the fifth biggest selling compilation of all-time. There is actually a soundtrack album to Marley but it has fared less well, debuting and peaking eight weeks ago at number 81 and selling fewer than 5,000 copies to date.
Madonna's MDNA is a notable absentee from the Top 75, freefalling 59-129 (1,128 sales) this week to complete an 11 week run on the list. It is the shortest initial Top 75 run of any Madonna album since her self-titled 1984 debut. MDNA has sold 112,765 copies to date.
Ed Sheeran's + dips 2-7 (17,649 sales), Paloma Faith's Fall To Grace ebbs 3-5 (18,308 sales), The Bee Gees' Number Ones declines 4-8 (14,812 sales) and Coldplay's Xylo Myloto improves 5-4 (20,277 sales).
Back at number one in America, Adele's 21 nevertheless remains at number 12 here (10,163 sales).
After 10 weeks atop the compilation chart, Now That's What I Call Music! 81 slips to number two, with sales of 16,721 raising its career tally to 611,071. Replacing it at the summit, Dreamboats & Petticoats: Three Steps To Heaven (18,255 sales), is the 10th release and fourth number one for the EMI/Universal collaborations since the series was launched in 2007.
Boosted by Father's Day gift-buying, overall album sales are up 8.96% week-on-week at 1,704,055 but 21.42% below same week 2011 sales of 2,168,473.
SINGLES: Call My Name, the first single from Cheryl Cole's third album A Million Lights, debuts atop the chart with first week sales well in excess of 100,000 - just as the first singles from her two previous solo albums did. The fourth number one written by Calvin Harris, Call My Name racked up the best weekly sales tally of 2012 last week, shifting 152,001 copies to beat the record set by Gary Barlow's Sing a week earlier. Conversely, it registers the lowest first week tally yet for the debut single from a Cole album - introductory hit Fight For This Love (from 3 Words) exploded onto the chart with 292,846 sales in 2009, and Promise This (from Messy Little Raindrops) stormed to 157,210 sales on its 2010 release. They remain Cole's biggest hits - Promise This has sold 427,262 copies, and on its inevitable march to the million mark, Fight For This Love has sold 988,739 copies.
Cole's fast start leaves Flo Rida stranded at number two with Whistle, which increases sales by 11.70% week-on-week to 87,319 - the second highest for a number two this year.
After jumping 11-1 last week, Sing subsides to number three (47,932 sales) for Gary Barlow and The Commonwealth Band. The record it dethroned, Feel The Love by Rudimental, is also down again, falling 4-5 (46,345 sales).
Princess Of China climbs 8-4 (47,342 sales) to become Coldplay's seventh Top 5 hit, and Rihanna's 18th.
Causing consumer confusion to sell a soundalike version of a hit song is nothing new - in 1960, British singer Gary Mills' Look For A Star peaked at number 26 in America, 10 notches below opportunistic US cover by Garry Miles (sic). And let's not forget the less than titanic 1996 battle of the Macarenas between original recording act Los Del Rio and the watery imitation that was Los Del Mar (rio means river in Spanish, and mar means sea), which Los Del Rio won emphatically, reaching number three, 49 places higher than their would-be rivals. But the whole issue has reached preposterous new heights in the digital age, with download sites clogged up with soundalike 'tribute' versions of new and upcoming hits whose sole purpose is to cream off sales from the genuine article. More than a dozen such copies have made the Top 75, six of them this year. The latest - and the first to make the Top 20 - is Payphone by Precision Tunes which, in the continued absence of the original Maroon 5 feat. Wiz Khalifa version, jumps 83-9 (34,492 sales) this week. Although the act's name sounds nothing like the original, the track's digital listing has 'Maroon 5 feat. Wiz Khalifa tribute' following its title. At a glance, it might be thought to be the original - and there is much evidence that it, and others like it, are being bought by accident. On iTunes, a buyer called wtf confides 'I bought this thinking it was the original. iTunes you have mislead me into buying this track - RAGE'. Jemma_87 weighs in with 'so annoyed - didn't check properly before buying it,' and Betty Chazzle Dazzle says 'I'm very unhappy that I just spent 70 something pence on a song that's not Maroon 5...Grrrrrr'. Precision Tunes' version of Payphone is actually the second to make the Top 75 - The Dream Team's version reached number 49 earlier in the month. Although a few were genuine attempts to do something else with it - like a lullaby version, an acoustic version and a rock version - most of the 86(!) versions of Payphone that I found on download sites are very similar in style and execution to the original, and exist only to steal its sales. Some of them have samples that start at the same millisecond as each other and are in reality the same, despite having different artist credits. I presume the thinking is that you stand a chance of getting 4/86 of the sales rather than 1/83 if you have four listings instead of one. What I don't understand is how one jumps out of the crowd to become the one that charts...or why they are granted a licence ahead of the official release. Having said that, some of the fault lies with record companies. Looking at the charts elsewhere, British fans frequently have to wait longer for the original to be released than fans in other, more minor markets, for no apparent reason. Ireland is tiny by comparison to the UK but apparently important enough for Payphone, We Are Young, Call Me Maybe, Whistle and other recent holdbacks to be released well ahead of the UK. Rant over...
US R&B singer Trey Songz makes the Top 40 for the very first time, debuting at number 28 (12,102 sales) with Heart Attack, the introductory single from his fifth album, Chapter V. Songz' only previous Top 75 placing here came 15 months ago, when he reached number 71 with Bottom's Up, which also featured Nicki Minaj. Songz's lack of UK chart action is in sharp contrast to his success in his homeland, where he has had 25 Hot 100 entries since 2005. Heart Attack is not one of the bigger ones, however - it has yet to make the top half of the chart after 10 weeks in the Hot 100, rising 60-56 this week.
Justin Bieber scores his sixth Top 40 hit in 10 weeks with As Long As You Love Me (feat. Big Sean) debuting at number 30 (11,598 sales). It is the fourth hit from his new album Believe, which drops today, following Boyfriend, Die In Your Arms and All Around The World.
The Voice UK winner Leanne Mitchell's debut single Run To Me suffers a 87.90% dip in second week sales, and drops from number 45 to a position well outside the Top 200 but its demise coincides with several debuts from other acts Mitchell beat in the finals. They are: Higher Love (number 39, 8,864 sales) and Sign Your Name (number 189, 1,305 sales) by Tyler James, Free Fallin' (number 63, 5,264 sales) by Max Milner, Running Up That Hill (number 69, 4,149 sales) and Nothing Compares 2 U (number 182, 1,342 sales) by Bo Bruce, Like A Virgin (number 97, 2,724 sales) and Always On My Mind (number 134, 1,854 sales) by Vince Kidd, Ordinary People (number 162, 1,538 sales) by Jaz Ellington and Get Here (number 194, 1,266 sales) by Ruth Brown. All are being cherry-picked from the digital release of The Voice UK, The Final 8: The Album, which itself makes a fairly small impression debuting at number 30 on the compilation chart (1,383 sales).
Dark Side is the third single from Kelly Clarkson's album Stronger, following the Top 10 hits Mr. Know It All and What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger). Dark Side is off to a slow start having moved 56-43-40 thus far. Its arrival in the Top 40 comes just before its immediate predecessor What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) becomes Clarkson's all-time biggest seller in the UK, with a tally of 365,272 sales to close of business on Saturday - despite its number eight peak - putting it fractionally behind 2009 chart-topper My Life Would Suck Without You, which has sold 365,720 copies. Stronger itself passed My Life Would Suck Without You's parent album All I Ever Wanted's career sales of 197,817 and achieved its own 200,000th sale last week, with 4,555 buyers in the week that saw it decline 27-33, while upping its career sales to 200,136. Even so, it is barely a seventh of the way to matching sales of Clarkson's runaway best-seller, Breakaway, which has thus far sold 1,571,278 copies.
Overall singles sales are down 7.48% week-on-week at 3,321,484 - 11.04% above same week 2011 sales of 3,087,957.