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.
Take Me Home has also spawned a top 10 hit: "Live While We're Young."
Mumford & Sons' Babel is #4 for the year-to-date with sales of 1,243,000. This will be the second year in a row that the British folk revival band has ranked in the year-end top 10. Sigh No More was #6 for 2011. Babel is a Grammy finalist for Album of the Year and Best Americana Album.
Justin Bieber's Believe is #5 for the year-to-date with sales of 1,141,000. It's the highest-ranking album by a male solo artist. This will be the third year in a row that Bieber has ranked in the top 10. My World 2.0 was #4 for 2010. Under The Mistletoe was #8 for 2011. Bieber will be the first male artist to place an album in the year-end top 10 three years in a row since Garth Brooks scored from 1991 through 1993. (The Fine Print: The Nielsen SoundScan site doesn't carry archival charts from 1991, its first year of operation. But Billboard's year-end chart for 1991 has Brooks' No Fences at #2.)
Believe has spawned three top 10 hits, "Believe," "As Long As You Love Me" (featuring Big Sean) and "Beauty And A Beat" (featuring Nicki Minaj). Deep trivia: this will mark the second time in the past three years that Bieber has had the year's best-selling album by a Canadian artist. Michael Buble and Drake edged him out last year.
Carrie Underwood's Blown Away is #6 for the year-to-date with sales of 1,067,000. This will mark the second time that Underwood has had an album in the year-end top 10. Some Hearts was #3 for 2006. Blown Away has spawned two top 20 hits, "Good Girl" and "Blown Away."
Lionel Richie's Tuskegee is #7 for the year-to-date with sales of 1,057,000. Richie, 63, is vying to become the oldest artist to rank in the year-end top 10 in the Nielsen SoundScan era. (Rod Stewart's Merry Christmas, Baby, which is #24 for the year-to-date and moving up fast, may wind up in the year-end top 10. If it does, Stewart, 67, would surpass Richie as the oldest artist to rank in the year-end top 10. I'm guessing Richie wouldn't mind a bit.)
Luke Bryan's Tailgates & Tanlines is #8 for the year-to-date with sales of 992K. The album sold an additional 651K copies in 2011. The album has spawned four top 30 hits, "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)," "I Don't Want This Night To End," "Drunk On You" and "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye."
Whitney Houston's Whitney: The Greatest Hits is #10 for the year-to-date with sales of 877K. (All but about 2,500 of this tally were sold after her death on Feb. 11.) The album, which was first released in 2000, is the year's #1 catalog album. It had sold an additional 1,738,000 copies prior to this year. Houston's The Bodyguard soundtrack was #3 for 1992 and #1 for 1993.
Jason Aldean's Night Train is #11 for the year-to-date with sales of 866K. His 2010 album My Kinda Party is #26 for the year-to-date with sales of 565K. (It ranked #5 for 2011.) Aldean is the only male solo artist who has sold 500K copies each of two albums so far this year. (One female artist, Adele, and two groups, One Direction and Mumford & Sons, have also achieved the feat.) My Kinda Party, which spawned the top 10 hit "Dirt Road Anthem," was a Grammy finalist for Best Country Album of 2011. Night Train, which spawned the top 15 hit "Take A Little Ride," was released too late for consideration this year. It will probably be a finalist for Best Country Album next year.
Maroon 5's Overexposed is #12 for the year-to-date with sales of 862K. The album spawned the megahits "Payphone" (featuring Wiz Khalifa) and "One More Night." The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album. The group's debut album, Songs About Jane, was the #7 best-seller of 2004.
fun.'s debut album, Some Nights, is #13 for the year-to-date with sales of 811K. The album spawned the smash hits "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae) and "Some Nights." The album received Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.
P!nk's The Truth About Love is #14 for the year-to-date with sales of 776K. The album spawned the top five hit "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)." The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album. P!nk's sophomore album, Missundaztood, was the #6 best-seller of 2002.
Drake's Take Care is the top-selling rap album for the year-to-date with sales of 681K. The album sold an additional 1,247,000 copies in 2011. (I'm classifying Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, which has sold 749K, as pop.) Take Care is a Grammy finalist for Best Rap Album. It spawned two top 10 hits, "Make Me Proud" (featuring Minaj) and "Take Care" (featuring Rihanna).
Rod Stewart's Merry Christmas, Baby is the top-selling Christmas album for the year-to-date with sales of 602K. Stewart's album was released too late for Grammy consideration this year, but it will probably be up for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album next year.
The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond is the best-selling soundtrack for the year-to-date with sales of 457K. This will be the first time since 2009 that the soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie has been the year's top soundtrack. Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album beat out The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in 2010. Lemonade Mouth edged out The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 in 2011. The Hunger Games spawned a pair of top 30 hits by Taylor Swift: "Eyes Open" and "Safe & Sound" (featuring The Civil Wars).
Shake It Up: Live 2 Dance is the top-selling TV soundtrack for the year-to-date with sales of 199K.
(Glee ran out of gas this year. No Glee albums rank among the top 200 for the year-to-date. The Glee phenomenon peaked two years ago when Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album was the year's #16 best-seller.)
Usher's Looking 4 Myself is the top-selling R&B album for the year-to-date with sales of 438K. (I'm classifying albums by Whitney Houston, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna as pop and albums by Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Rick Ross as rap.) Looking 4 Myself spawned the top 10 hit "Scream."
Romeo Santos' Formula, Vol. 1 is the top-selling Latin music album for the year-to-date, with sales of 123K.
Tenacious D's Rize Of The Fenix is the top-selling comedy album for the year-to-date, with sales of 113K copies. The comedy troupe features Jack Black. The album is a Grammy finalist for Best Comedy Album.
To My Readers: There are still three weeks left in the 2012 chart year. I'll update all the tallies in this report after Nielsen SoundScan posts the final charts of 2012 on Thursday, Jan. 3. A week from today, we'll look at the year's top songs. I'll update all the numbers in that report on Jan. 3, too.