To his eight Grammy nominations and slew of No. 1 singles, Usher adds the honor of most-shipped U.S. album of 2004 for “Confessions” (LaFace/Zomba), according to year-end certifications from the RIAA.
With 8 million units shipped, the set is the highest-certified album in the star’s catalog. His previous best was 1997’s “My Way,” which is six times platinum.
Usher also picks up three honors under the RIAA’s new digital awards program. “Yeah!” featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, which spent 12 weeks atop the Hot 100, was certified digital platinum for more than 200,000 downloads. The No. 1 singles “Burn” and “My Boo” with Alicia Keys went digital gold for more than 100,000 downloads.
George Strait earns this year’s second-highest certified album, and top country album, for “50 Number Ones” (MCA Nashville), which was certified five times platinum. Strait’s 30-year career boasts 32 gold, 28 platinum and 13 multi-platinum albums, with more than 60 million total U.S. shipments.
The 2004 highest-certified female award goes to Norah Jones’ Blue Note/Capitol sophomore effort “Feels Like Home,” with 4 million shipments. Her 2002 debut “Come Away With Me” is nine times platinum. Jones’ “Sunrise” earned a digital gold award.
Top debut by a female artist goes to Gretchen Wilson’s “Here for the Party” (Epic) and Ashlee Simpson’s “Autobiography” (Geffen), both with 3 million shipments.
Kanye West is the year’s leading male newcomer, with double-platinum honors for “The College Dropout” (Roc-A-Fella).
In addition to earning the RIAA Diamond Award for 10 million shipments of last year’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” LaFace/Zomba act OutKast joins Usher with three digital awards this year. “Hey Ya!” grabbed the only multi-platinum award, while “Roses” and “The Way You Move” went platinum.
Another 2004 highlight was Ray Charles’ posthumous “Genius Loves Company” (Hear Music/Concord), which earned the artist his first platinum and multi-platinum honors.
Several other artists picked up their first multiplatinum awards in 2004, including Maroon5, whose “Songs About Jane” (J) went triple platinum. Earning their first double-platinum nods were Black Eyed Peas for “Elephunk” (A&M/Interscope); Brad Paisley, “Mud on the Tires” (Arista Nashville); Jill Scott, “Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds, Volume 1” (Hidden Beach/Epic); Keith Urban, “Golden Road” (Capitol Nashville); Pantera, “Vulgar Display of Power” (Atlantic); and Switchfoot, “Beautiful Letdown” (Columbia).
First-time platinum winners included Ciara, Five for Fighting, Anthony Hamilton, Jet, Josh Turner, Velvet Revolver, Michael McDonald, Yellowcard, Los Lonely Boys and JoJo.