Eminem made history in 2010. He became the first artist to have the year's best-selling album twice since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. Eminem's seventh album, Recovery, sold 3,415,000 copies in the year that just ended, which was more than any album sold in a calendar year since 2007. The rap star's third album, The Eminem Show, was the best-seller of 2002.
[Photos: Dramatic photos of Eminem]
The total for Recovery includes 852,000 digital copies. That's more digital copies than any album has ever sold in a calendar year. The old record was held by Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, which sold 617,000 digital copies in 2008.
Recovery has headed Nielsen SoundScan's year-to-date chart since Sept. 26, when it pulled ahead of Lady Antebellum's Need You Now. That country/pop smash is #2 for the year. Taylor Swift's Speak Now is #3. This marks the third time in Nielsen SoundScan history that country acts have been responsible for two of the year's top three albums. Billy Ray Cyrus' Some Gave All and Garth Brooks' Ropin' The Wind were the top two albums of 1992. Rascal Flatts' Me And My Gang and Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts ranked #2 and #3, respectively, for 2006.
Taylor Swift is the first artist in Nielsen SoundScan history to have an album rank among the year's top three in three consecutive years. In addition, Swift is only the second artist in this period to wind up in the year-end top 10 in four straight years. Mariah Carey scored from 1993 through 1996.
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This is the third year in a row that Swift has had the year's top-selling album by a female artist. No other female artist in Nielsen SoundScan history has had the top album of the year three times. (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Alanis Morissette, Britney Spears and Norah Jones each scored twice.)
Likewise, this is the third time that Eminem has had the year's top-selling album by a male solo artist. No other male artist has had the top album of the year three times. (Garth Brooks and 50 Cent each scored twice.)
Lady Gaga's The Fame ranks #6 for the year. It ranked #4 for 2009. It's the fourth debut album in Nielsen SoundScan history to make the year-end top 10 twice. It follows Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill (her American breakthrough), Evanescence's Fallen and Taylor Swift's Taylor Swift.
The year-end top 10 includes three other debut albums: Justin Bieber's My World 2.0, Drake's Thank Me Later and Ke$ha's Animal. That's the best showing for debut albums since 2004, when breakthrough albums by Gretchen Wilson, Maroon5, Evanescence and Ashlee Simpson all made the year-end top 10. (The Bieber and Drake albums were preceded by hit EPs).
2010 was a good year for pop, which accounts for four of the year's top 10 albums. It was also been a good year for rap, R&B and country. Each of these three genres accounts for two of the year's top 10 albums.
But it was a rotten year for rock. The year's best-selling rock album, Kid Rock's Born Free, ranks #34 for the year. That's the lowest that the year's top rock album has appeared on a year-end list in the Nielsen SoundScan era. The only other time there was no rock album in the year-end top 10 was in 2002, when the year's top rock album, Creed's Weathered, ranked #16 for the year.
Two albums topped the 3 million mark in sales during 2010, the same number as in 2009. Otherwise, album sales were down. Four albums topped the 2 million mark (down from five in 2009). Thirteen albums topped 1 million (down from 22). Forty-eight albums topped 500,000 (down from 62).
Here are the 10 albums that sold the most copies so far this year. I also show how many of the total sales were digital. Some of these albums sold additional copies prior to this chart year (which began with the week ending Jan. 10). If an album ranked among the top 200 albums of 2009, I show its 2009 ranking and sales tally.
Without further ado, here are the 10 albums that sold the most total copies in 2010.
1. Eminem, Recovery, 3,415,000 (includes 852K digital). This is the fifth time that Eminem has had an album in the year-end top 10. It's also the fifth time he has had the year's top rap album. That's more than any other rapper. (50 Cent came out on top twice.)
2. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 3,089,000 (includes 382K digital). This is the year's biggest album by a group/duo and by a country artist.
3. Taylor Swift, Speak Now, 2,960,000 (includes 488K digital). This is the fourth year in a row that Swift has had the year's best-selling country album. That tops Garth Brooks and Shania Twain, each of whom was responsible for the year's top country album three times.
4. Justin Bieber, My World 2.0, 2,319,000 (includes 198K digital). This was Bieber's first full-length album, and is the year's best-selling debut album. It is also the year's top album by a pop artist, by a teen artist and by an artist from outside the U.S. (Bieber is Canadian.)
5. Susan Boyle, The Gift, 1,852,000 (includes 32K digital). This is the second year in a row that Boyle has had an album in the year-end top 10. I Dreamed A Dream was #2 last year. This is also the second year in a row that a Boyle album has been the year's best-seller by a British artist.
6. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 1,591,000 (includes 373K digital). This is the year's best-selling album that was released prior to 2010. It sold an additional 2,238,000 copies in 2009, which made it that year's #4 album. (It sold an initial 150K copies in 2008, its year of release.)
7. Sade, Soldier Of Love, 1,300,000 (includes 193K digital). This is the first time in the Nielsen/SoundScan era that Sade has had an album in the year-end top 10. This is the year's top R&B album.
8. Drake, Thank Me Later, 1,269,000 (includes 269K digital). This is the first time that a rap artist's debut album has finished in the year-end top 10 since Nelly scored 10 years ago with Country Grammar (#7 for that year).
9. Usher, Raymond V Raymond, 1,183,000 (includes 157K digital). This is the second time that Usher has finished in the year-end top 10. He had the #1 album of 2004, Confessions.
10. Ke$ha, Animal, 1,143,000 (includes 395K digital). This album debuted at #1 in the first week of January. It stayed on course to wind up in the year-end top 10.
As a bonus, here are six other albums that achieved distinctions this year, along with their rank on the year-to-date list.
16. Various Artists, Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album, 917,000 (includes 235K digital). This is the year's top soundtrack album. This is the third time in the past five years that a TV soundtrack has outsold the year's top soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie.
17. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 888,000 (includes 132K digital). Last year's #1 album ranks a very respectable #17 this year. That ties Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory for the gentlest drop from #1 of any year-end champ in the Nielsen SoundScan era. (After placing #1 for 2001, Hybrid Theory ranked #17 for 2002.
34. Kid Rock, Born Free, 640,000 (includes 41K digital). This was the year's best-selling rock album, eclipsing Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More and Linkin Park's A Thousand Suns. Kid has ranked higher on the year-end chart (he has made the year-end top 10 twice), but this is the first time he has had the year's #1 rock album.
78. Michael Jackson, Number Ones, 388,000 (includes 34K digital). This 2003 compilation is the year's #1 catalog album for the second year in a row. Note the low digital number: People want the CD as a remembrance.
xx. Broadway Cast Album, Wicked, 172,000 (includes 61K digital). This is the year's top Broadway cast album for the third time in the past five years. (It fell behind Jersey Boys the past two years.) No ranking is shown because it isn't in the year's top 200.
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