Usher cops top ’04 album

RIAA confesses it loves singer's album

The Recording Industry Assn. of America has declared Usher’s “Confessions” the top album of the year, having shipped 8 million copies to retail.

Certified five times platinum, George Strait’s “50 No. 1’s” was No. 2 overall and the highest country release. Eminem’s “Encore” was certified quadruple platinum after just a month in stores.

Norah Jones’ “Feels Like Home” was certified quadruple platinum, making it the highest certified album by a female artist in 2004.

Gretchen Wilson’s “Here for the Party” and Ashlee Simpson’s “Autobiography” were certified triple platinum, making them the highest certified debuts by a female artist.

The leading recipient of Grammy noms with 10, Kanye West saw his “The College Dropout” earn double platinum, making it the highest certified debut by a male artist in 2004.

The RIAA awarded 127 multiplatinum, 124 platinum and 261 gold albums in 2004.

Ray Charles posthumously earned both the first platinum and multiplatinum albums of his career for his final recording, “Genius Loves Company,” which crossed the 2 million mark in November.

Shania Twain’s 1997 album “Come on Over” continues to be the biggest-selling country album in history, now certified 20 times platinum.

Outkast’s 2003 release “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” reached diamond status (10 million shipped), and the duo joined Usher as the only acts with three digital sales awards. They earned the year’s only multiplatinum (400,000 plus) award for “Hey Ya!,” while “Roses” and “The Way That You Move” earned platinum (200,000 downloads) awards.

Artists earning their first-ever multiplatinum awards included the Black Eyed Peas, Maroon 5, Brad Paisley, Jill Scott, Keith Urban, Pantera and Switchfoot.

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