Usher and Al Green score Hot Shot Debuts this week while Katy Perry and Rihanna earn Greatest Gainers stripes and Fergie and Kirk Franklin grab Pacesetter honors.

Hot Shot Debuts: Usher makes an impressive return to The Billboard 200 this week, earning the Hot Shot Debut prize and the No. 1 spot for “Here I Stand,” which moves 443,000 copies its first week out. That’s the second-best single-week tally for 2008 thus far -- behind only Mariah Carey’s “E=MC2” -- but it falls far short of the opening week numbers for Usher’s last effort, 2004’s “Confessions,” which shifted more than a million copies to start.
R&B legend Al Green earns Hot Shot Debut honors for “Lay it Down” on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The set opens at No. 3, the singer’s highest charting album since “Al Green Is Love” peaked at No. 1 in 1975. With sales of 34,000, “Lay it Down” also earns Green his best chart result on The Billboard 200 (No. 9) since 1972’s "I'm Still In Love With You," which peaked at No. 4.

Lil Wayne is the Hot Shot Debut award-winner over on The Billboard Hot 100, coming in at No. 13 with “Got Money” featuring T-Pain. The rapper now has four tracks in the top 40, three as a lead artist -- the most for a lead act since 50 Cent fronted three top 40 tracks in the May 7, 2005 issue. “Got Money” also has a big debut on the digital side, shifting 114,000 downloads to arrive at No. 6 on Hot Digital Songs.

On Top Country Albums, new vocal trio One Flew South earns the Hot Shot Debut for “Last of the Good Guys,” which enters at No. 67. Lead single "My Kind of Beautiful" hit radio programmer's inboxes during the tracking week.

Greatest Gainers: Usher adds to his trophy cabinet this week by taking Greatest Gainer honors on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums for “Here I Stand,” which leaps 67-1 with a 3,000% sales gain. Street date violations led to an early debut on the chart last week.

On The Billboard Hot 100, it’s Katy Perry who sews on Greatest Gainer/Digital stripes, as “I Kissed a Girl” zooms 21-5 with the help of an 111% increase in download sales, to 173,000. The track accordingly moves 13-3 on Hot Digital Songs. Meanwhile, Rihanna is the chart’s Greatest Gainer/Airplay award-winner, even as “Take a Bow” holds steady in the No. 4 position. The song is down 14% in download sales, slipping 3-5 on Hot Digital Songs, but has yet to fall below the top five of that chart after four weeks.

Alan Jackson’s “Good Time” is the Greatest Gainer on Top Country Albums, stepping 16-9 in its 13th week with a 6% sales bump to 12,000. A re-run of "Alan Jackson: Invitation Only" on CMT during the tracking week propels the move.

And on The Billboard 200, it’s Wisin & Yandel who get the Greatest Gainer prize for “Wisin vs. Yandel: Los Extraterrestres.” The set rockets 185-31 after its re-release with six additional songs and a DVD last week, which sent sales soaring 265% to 13,000.

Pacesetters: Jason Michael Carroll sets the pace on Top Country Albums with “Waitin’ in the Country,” which climbs 57-50 in its 69th week. Carroll appeared in special military-themed Memorial Day programming on Great American Country (GAC), which results in a 16% sales boost, to 1,300.

Meanwhile, Fergie wins the Pacesetter prize on The Billboard 200 for “The Dutchess,” which scoots 104-28 in its 89th week thanks to a reissue with extra tracks. The set moves 15,000, a 131% gain. Those same extra tracks were also offered as part of a digital-only EP called "The Dutchess: The Deluxe E.P." that enters the chart at No. 46 (11,000).

Finally, Kirk Franklin sews on Pacesetter stripes for “The Fight of My Life,” which climbs 55-40 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The set, in its 24th week, is up 35%.

-—Susan Visakowitz with additional reporting by Keith Caulfield, Raphael George, Katie Hasty, Wade Jessen, Geoff Mayfield and Silvio Pietroluongo

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