Chart Watch Extra: Adele Tops 10 Million
Adele's 21 performs two miracles this week. It tops the 10 million mark in U.S. sales, a milestone that most had figured was out of reach for newer releases, given the diminished sales of recent years. And it reached the 10 million mark in less than two years (92 weeks, to be exact), faster than any other album since *NSYNC's No Strings Attached hit 10M in its 43rd week in January 2001.
*NSYNC's album was released in 2000, when album sales were at a dizzy peak. Record stores were still prevalent back then, if you can imagine that. The fact that 21 has reached 10M in a markedly more challenging sales environment is extraordinary.
The last album (by release date) to sell 10M copies was Usher's Confessions, which came out in the spring of 2004. But that album took more than four times as long as Adele's (eight years and five months) to sell 10M copies.
21 is the 21st album to sell 10 million copies in the U.S. since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. It's the second by a British artist, following the Beatles' hit-studded 1.
Here's a complete list of the 10 million-sellers of the Nielsen SoundScan era. They're ranked not by their total sales, but by how long they took to reach the 10M plateau. (I also mention how many top 10 hits each album spawned on the Hot 100 or Hot 100 Airplay charts.) Dates are Nielsen SoundScan "week ending" dates.
1. Backstreet Boys, Millennium, 40 weeks. The boy band's sophomore album charted the week ending May 23, 1999 and hit 10M the week ending Feb. 20, 2000. (You can do the math: it averaged 250K in weekly sales for 40 weeks.) The album spawned two top 10 hits: "I Want It That Way" and "Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely."
2. *NSYNC, No Strings Attached, 43 weeks. The boy band's second regular studio album charted the week ending March 26, 2000 and hit 10M the week ending Jan. 14, 2001. The album spawned three top 10 hits: "Bye Bye Bye," "It's Gonna Be Me" and "This I Promise You."