Chart Watch Extra: The Year's Top Albums
Adele’s 21 is officially 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 sold 4,414,000 copies in 2012. 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 was in its second year of release, 21 sold more copies in 2012 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 with sales of 3,107,000. This is 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 marks 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.
Red was 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.”
A record five of the year’s 10 best-selling albums have been big country hits. Red is followed by albums by Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Jason Aldean. The previous best showing for country came in 1992 and 2002, when the genre was responsible for four albums in the year-end top 10.
One Direction has two of the year’s top five albums. Up All Night is #3 with sales of 1,616,000. Take Me Home is #5 with sales of 1,340,000. The British/Irish boy band is the first act to place two albums in the year-end top five in the Nielsen SoundScan era (though Eminem came awfully close in 2002. The Eminem Show was #1 for the year and the 8 Mile soundtrack was #5. So why doesn’t that count? While Eminem starred in the movie and performed the key song on the soundtrack, it wasn’t an Eminem album per se.)
One Direction is 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.