For the second year in a row, Adele’s 21 was the bestselling album in the US. The English singer has become the first artist since Michael Jackson to produce a record topping the sales charts in both the year of release and the year following. According to Nielsen SoundScan, 21 sold 4.41m copies in 2012 – just 25% less than the year before, when XL/Columbia moved 5.82m. In fact, 21 hasn’t left the weekly top 40 since it debuted, at No1, in March 2011. Adele’s success puts the album in a very exclusive club: only three other LPs have scaled comparable heights across two successive years. The feat was last accomplished in 1985, when Jackson issued a little record called Thriller. The previous record holders were soundtracks: West Side Story in 1962/63, and My Fair Lady in 1957/58. Overall, America’s 2012 charts show a major British invasion. Apart from Taylor Swift’s Red, which sold 3.11m, all of the top five albums were made by UK acts. One Direction’s debut, Up All Night, was the No3 record, selling 1.62m, and their second album, Take Me Home, came in at No5. Mumford & Sons sold 1.46m copies of Babel, making it No4.
On the singles side, Gotye struck gold with his xylophone ditty Somebody That I Used to Know, selling 6.8m copies, almost exclusively digitally. Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe rung in at No2, followed by We Are Young, by Fun. All three songs broke the all-time digital record, previously set by Adele’s Rolling in the Deep.