In the sales tracking week that ends Sunday night, Adele's 21 will top the 11 million mark in U.S. sales. That news is at once not really surprising (the album has been a blockbuster since it was released in 2011) and utterly astounding (in an era when albums are hard-pressed to sell 2 or 3 million copies, how on earth has an album gotten to 11 million?)
There was little reason to think that 21 would become a blockbuster when it was released in February 2011. Adele’s previous album, 19, had been a solid hit, but it hadn’t even sold 1 million copies. (Its sales on the eve of the release of 21: 930K.) Only one of the songs from 19 made Billboard's Hot 100: “Chasing Pavements,” which peaked at #21 (there's that number again!). 19 had, however, brought Adele two Grammys: Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. (In addition, “Chasing Pavements” was nominated for Grammys for Record and Song of the Year.)
21 logged 24 weeks at #1 on The Billboard 200 and spawned three #1 singles: “Rolling In The Deep,” “Someone Like You” and “Set Fire To The Rain.” 21 was the best-selling album of both 2011 and 2012. This marked the first time in Nielsen SoundScan history (which dates to 1991) that an album was the top-seller two years running.
The album’s biggest sales week came in February 2012, when it sold 730K copies in the first full week following the 54th Grammy Awards. Adele won six Grammys that night, including Album, Record and Song of the Year. (The tune-in was greater than usual due in large part to Whitney Houston's shocking death the day before the show.)
Here are the numbers, for you data freaks: 21 topped 1M in U.S. sales in April 2011, 2M that June, 3M that August, 4M that October and 5M that December.
It topped 6M in January 2012, 7M that February, 8M that March, 9M that May and 10M that November.
How can I be so certain that the album will top the 11 million mark this week? The album’s sales stood at 10,999,000 last week, and it is selling about 3K copies a week.
This queen is so perfect, I can't handle it.