Chart Watch Extra: The Year’s Top Albums
Adele's 21 is set to become the first album to wind up as the year's best-seller twice since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. The album has sold 4,255,000 copies so far this year. It sold 5,824,000 copies in 2011. It's one of only four albums in the Nielsen SoundScan era to sell 4 million or more copies in each of two calendar years. It follows Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill (1995-1996), Shania Twain's Come On Over (1998-1999) and Santana's Supernatural (1999-2000).
Even though it's in its second year of release, 21 has sold more copies this year than the best-selling albums of 2006 through 2010 did in those years. The album spawned three #1 hits, "Rolling In The Deep," "Someone Like You" and "Set Fire To The Rain." It won six Grammys in February, including Album of the Year.
Taylor Swift's Red is #2 for the year-to-date with sales of 2,383,000. This will mark the fourth time that Swift has had an album in the year-end top three. Fearless was #3 for 2008 and #1 for 2009. Speak Now was #3 for 2010. In the Nielsen SoundScan era, only one other artist, Eminem, has ranked in the top three on the year-end chart four times.
This will be the fifth year in which Swift has had an album in the year-end top 10. Taylor Swift was #9 for 2007.
Red is the year's best-selling album that was released in 2012. It has spawned four top 10 hits, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," "Begin Again," "Red" and "I Knew You Were Trouble." Four of the 10 best-selling albums for the year-to-date have been big country hits. Red is followed by albums by Carrie Underwood, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. Country was responsible for four albums in the year-end top 10 in 1992 and 2002.
This year will mark the first time that female artists have held the top two spots on the year-end album recap since 2009, when Swift and Susan Boyle were #1 and #2.
One Direction has two albums in the top 10 for the year-to-date. Up All Night is #3 with sales of 1,464,000. Take Me Home is #9 with sales of 915K. The British/Irish boy band is vying to become the first non-country act to place two albums in the top 10 on the year-end chart in the Nielsen SoundScan era. Garth Brooks had three of the top 10 for 1992. Taylor Swift had two of the top 10 for 2008.
Up All Night, which spawned the top 10 hit "What Makes You Beautiful," is the year's best-selling album by a group. It's also the year's best-selling debut album. This will mark the fifth time in the Nielsen SoundScan era that a boy band has ranked in the top three for year. Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC each achieved the feat twice.