It's not 'Confessions,' but 'Stand' delivers

Usher back on top; 'Sex' companion distant 2nd

From the Forgone Conclusions file comes a new leader on the Billboard 200.

Usher follows up one of the biggest albums of the decade with "Here I Stand," which was huge out of the box but couldn't top Mariah Carey's "E=MC2" for the best bow of 2008. "Here I Stand" is Usher's first album since "Confessions," which moved 1.1 million units in its first week in 2004, spent nine weeks at No. 1 and has sold 9.5 million in the U.S.

The "Sex and the City" soundtrack is a distant second in its debut week, topping last week's chart champ, the self-titled 3 Doors Down album, by a mere 3,000 units.

Al Green posts the best debut of his career with "Lay It Down." It's his first top 10 disc in 35 years and his highest-charting album since "I'm Still in Love With You" hit No. 4 in 1972.

Meanwhile, Madonna's "Hard Candy" falls out of the top 10 this week in only its fifth chart week.

Overall album sales are up a fraction from last week at 7.24 million units but down 13% from the same week in 2007. (partialdiff)