Usher claims his third consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart as his "Raymond v Raymond" bows atop the list with 329,000 copies ... He previously led the tally with 2008's "Here I Stand" and 2004's "Confessions" ... Usher pushes Justin Bieber's "My World 2.0" out of the penthouse to No. 2 in its second week -- however, "World" actually sports an rare second-week gain for a No. 1-debuting album.


FLASH POINTS

• Usher scores his third straight No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 as "Raymond v Raymond" bumps Justin Bieber's "My World 2.0" out of the top slot, selling 329,000 copies in its first week according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's the third-best sales week of the year, following the debuts of Sade's "Soldier of Love" (502,000) and Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" (481,000).

• Usher topped the Billboard 200 his last time out in 2008 with "Here I Stand," selling 443,000 in its opening frame. The star's No. 1 streak started with his first chart-topper -- 2004's "Confessions."

• He supported the new set's release last week with stops on "American Idol" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and on both he performed his new single "OMG." Watch for the single to make a handsome debut on the Billboard Hot 100 tomorrow when the new chart is unveiled.

• Bieber's "My World 2.0" falls to No. 2 with 291,000 though it's up 3% in sales. There's no doubt that Easter basket shopping helped sales of Bieber's album in its second week, as the bunny holiday fell on Sunday, April 4, the final day of the sales tracking week.

• That second-week gain (from a No. 1 debut) is incredibly rare. While we've had instances of No. 1-debuting albums earn sales increases in their second week, they almost always happen because the set was issued on an off-cycle release date. Like, when Michael Buble's 2009 album "Crazy Love" landed a 55% gain in week two -- but only after it had an abbreviated first week. (It was released on a Friday, so its first "week" was really only three full days of sales. Thus, it was natural to see a jump for the set in its second week after it had a true week under its belt.)

• But, Bieber's "My World 2.0" was released on a Tuesday, so a second-week jump is very notable. It marks the first time a No. 1-debuting album -- issued on a traditional Tuesday release schedule -- has posted an increase in its second week since 2002. Back in the week ending March 31 -- also Easter week of that year -- the "Now 9" compilation fell from No. 1 to No. 2 but with an 11% gain (moving from 419,000 to 463,000).

• The last time an artist or group's album, released on a Tuesday, had a second-week increase from a No. 1 debut was even earlier -- during Thanksgiving week of 2000. That's when the Beatles' hits set "1" claimed an 11% increase in its second frame, moving from No. 1 the previous week (595,000) to No. 2 that week (662,000).

• Switching gears back to the Billboard 200 this week ... Hot on the heels of the release of her much-blogged-about music video for "Window Seat," Erykah Badu's "New Amerykah, Part Two: Return of the Ankh" enters the Billboard 200 at No. 4 with 110,000. It's the follow up to 2008's "New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)," which bowed at No. 2 with 124,000. Over on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, the new album debuts at No. 2 and is her sixth straight set to reach the top three -- her entire career-output. She previously notched No. 1s with "Baduizm" and "Live," a pair of No. 2s with "World Wide Underground (EP)" and "New Amerykah: Part One" and a No. 3 hit with "Mama's Gun."

• Country king Alan Jackson rolls in with the Billboard 200's third-highest debut at No. 7 with his latest set, "Freight Train," shifting 72,000 copies in its first week. It's Jackson's 11th top 10 effort on the big chart, while over on the Top Country Albums list, where it enters at No. 2, it's his 21st top 10 album. His last album, 2008's "Good Time," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 119,000 sold in its premiere week.

• And here's a recap of the rest of the top 10: the "Now 33" compilation holds at No. 3 with 123,000 (down 9%) while Lady Antebellum's sturdy "Need You Now" falls one spot to No. 5 with 87,000 (up 11%). The set has spent its entire 10-week chart run lodged inside the top five of the chart. Monica's "Still Standing" slips four spaces to No. 6 with 81,000 (down 56%) while Justin Bieber's first "My World" drops three rungs to No. 8 with 63,000 (up 26%). Rounding out the top 10 are Lady Gaga's "The Fame" -- down one spot -- at No. 9 with 49,000 (up 21%) and the Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D." holding steady at No. 10 with 43,000 (but up a sizable 25%).

• Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending April 4) totaled 6.84 million units, up 13% compared to the sum last week (6.03 million) and down 4% compared to the comparable sales week of 2009 (7.11 million). Year to date album sales stand at 81.95 million, down 8% compared to the same total at this point last year (89.02 million).

• AND NEXT WEEK:

• On next week's Billboard 200 chart, it's looking like Justin Bieber's "My World 2.0" may retake the No. 1 crown. He won't have any competition from new releases, as none of the albums that came to market this week seemingly pose a threat to his return to the top.

• It's too early to tell what the Bieb's "My World 2.0" will sell by week's end on April 11, but industry prognosticators think that his album will see a lighter sales erosion than what Usher's "Raymond v Raymond" -- this week's No. 1 -- will experience in its second week.

• What albums are looking to impact the Billboard 200 next week -- just not at No. 1? Guitar god Slash's all-star collaborations album, simply titled "Slash," is on track for a top 10 entry. The set sports guest vocalists Fergie, M Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold, Kid Rock, Ozzy Osbourne and others.

• The big chart will also see arrivals from a colorful cross-section of albums like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings' "I Learned the Hard Way," Madonna's live set "Sticky & Sweet Tour," Jakob Dylan's "Women and Country" and John Butler Trio's "April Uprising."



MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 6.84 million units
• UP 13% from last week's charts: 6.03 million units
• DOWN 4% from the comparable week in 2009: 7.11 million units
• This week: The top four albums each sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on The Billboard 200: Keith Urban narrowly beat out Prince to earn his first No. 1 album as "Defying Gravity" debuted with 172,000 copies ahead of the latter's "Lotus Flower's" arrival with 168,000. Diana Krall's "Quiet Nights" was the third debut in the top three, starting at No. 3 with 104,000.


A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: Slash's "Slash," Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings' "I Learned the Hard Way," Angelique Kidjo's "Oyo," Madonna's "Sticky and Sweet Tour" and Karen Clark-Sheard's "All in One."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2009 when: Rascal Flatts' "Unstoppable" lived up to its title as it stormed in at No. 1 with 351,000 copies sold during Easter week. (Easter fell on April 12 last year.) Meanwhile, the "Hannah Montana: the Movie" soundtrack climbed from No. 5 to No. 2 with 196,000 (up 127%). Jadakiss' "The Last Kiss" debuted at No. 3 with 135,000 while Jason Aldean's "Wide Open" started at No. 4 with 109,000.