So far the musical comeback of the year has been Lionel Richie, hands down. Last week the Alabama-born crooner's new album in three years, Tuskegee, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with sales of almost 200,000 copies. According to The Hollywood Reporter, if about 185,000 copies of Madonna's MDNA bundled with tickets to her upcoming tour were not counted, Tuskegee would have been No. 1. As it was, she registered the second-largest sales drop in history, plunging from 359,000 to just 38,000 copies this week. Ouch.
Regardless, Richie is the hottest thing in country music right now, if not all of show business. Named after his hometown, Tuskegee is an album of duets on Richie's own songs, with guests like Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Little Big Town, Billy Currington, Darius Rucker, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and Blake Shelton. Several of them will join him on the CBS special ACM Presents: Lionel Richie & Friends - In Concert, which airs tonight at 8 p.m. Houston time.
Rocks Off is afraid our readers may be losing sight of the bigger picture here, though: That Lionel Richie is a general all-around badass. But how does he stack up against the man generally regarded as the ultimate warrior, former CBS star and exercise-equipment tycoon Chuck Norris?
Lionel Richie grew up around the campus of Tuskegee University. His grandfather was an associate of the college's founder, Booker T. Washington.
The Mayans have predicted that by late 2012, Chuck Norris will sneeze.
Lionel Richie graduated from Tuskegee in 1968, by which time he had already joined the Commodores. He played saxophone and wrote the '70s funk standards "Brick House" and "Machine Gun."
When you are fast asleep, Chuck is faster
Lionel Richie taught himself to play piano by ear.
Chuck Norris can un-break Toni Braxton's heart.
UCLA gave Lionel Richie its George & Ira Gershwin Achievement Award in 2008. The award was established to honor the brothers' gift of fight song "Strike Up the Band for UCLA." Other past winners include Quincy Jones, Julie Andrews and Babyface.
Chuck Norris can parallel park a freight train.
Lionel Richie defied gravity in the video for "Dancing on the Ceiling."
During a war, governments buy Chuck Norris bonds.
Lionel Richie says working on Tuskegee restored his faith in mankind -- that's really what he said -- because "this is what the business is supposed to be in the beginning, where you walk into a room and you can be you and I can be me and we can have some fun together."
Chuck Norris put the crack in the Liberty Bell.
Lionel Richie co-wrote "We Are the World" with Michael Jackson.
Chuck Norris can eat one pringle.
Lionel Richie wrote a song that reached No. 1 nine years in a row, from 1977 to 1986. Only Irving Berlin has also done that.
Chuck Norris sang "Eyes of a Ranger," the theme song to his CBS series Walker, Texas Ranger. Have you heard it?
Lionel Richie wins.