Adele‘s “21” has accomplished a rare feat — it is the highest-selling album in the U.S. for the second straight year. In 2012, it beat out Taylor Swift‘s “Red,” which ended up in second place, according to Nielsen Soundscan. This is the first time since NIelsen began tracking album sales 22 years ago that an album has been the top seller for two years in a row.
“21” sold 4.41 million units in the U.S., whereas “Red” was a ways behind at 3.11 million units. “21” sold 5.82 million units in 2011, bringing its total to over 10 million copies sold.
Billboard’s director of charts Keith Caulfield tells Reuters, “It’s a sort of a once-in-a-lifetime album. Only a few of these albums come along in history … It’s really the right combination of artistry and hit singles … because of its mixture of fans, she was able to sell it as well as she did.”
This success comes despite a drop in U.S. album sales in 2012 by 4 percent, while digital song sales rose 5 percent in 2012, to a record 1.336 billion downloads.
The other three albums rounding out the top 5 for 2012 are One Direction‘s “Up All Night” and “Take Me Home” at third and fifth, respectively, and Mumford & Sons‘ “Babel” at fourth.