Chart Watch (NEW)

Chart Watch Extra: Adele Tops 10 Million

Chart Watch

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Adele's 21 performs two miracles this week. It tops the 10 million mark in U.S. sales, a milestone that most had figured was out of reach for newer releases, given the diminished sales of recent years. And it reached the 10 million mark in less than two years (92 weeks, to be exact), faster than any other album since *NSYNC's No Strings Attached hit 10M in its 43rd week in January 2001.

*NSYNC's album was released in 2000, when album sales were at a dizzy peak. Record stores were still prevalent back then, if you can imagine that. The fact that 21 has reached 10M in a markedly more challenging sales environment is extraordinary.

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The last album (by release date) to sell 10M copies was Usher's Confessions, which came out in the spring of 2004. But that album took more than four times as long as Adele's (eight years and five months) to sell 10M copies.

21 is the 21st album to sell 10 million copies in the U.S. since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. It's the second by a British artist, following the Beatles' hit-studded 1.

Here's a complete list of the 10 million-sellers of the Nielsen SoundScan era. They're ranked not by their total sales, but by how long they took to reach the 10M plateau. (I also mention how many top 10 hits each album spawned on the Hot 100 or Hot 100 Airplay charts.) Dates are Nielsen SoundScan "week ending" dates.

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1. Backstreet Boys, Millennium, 40 weeks. The boy band's sophomore album charted the week ending May 23, 1999 and hit 10M the week ending Feb. 20, 2000. (You can do the math: it averaged 250K in weekly sales for 40 weeks.) The album spawned two top 10 hits: "I Want It That Way" and "Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely."

2. *NSYNC, No Strings Attached, 43 weeks. The boy band's second regular studio album charted the week ending March 26, 2000 and hit 10M the week ending Jan. 14, 2001. The album spawned three top 10 hits: "Bye Bye Bye," "It's Gonna Be Me" and "This I Promise You."

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3. Santana, Supernatural, 60 weeks. The veteran Latin rock band's 17th studio album charted the week ending June 20, 1999 and hit 10M the week ending Aug. 6, 2000. Santana collected eight Grammys, including Album of the Year, on Feb. 23, 2000 (which equaled Michael Jackson's one-night Grammy record). The album spawned two #1 singles: "Smooth" (featuring Rob Thomas) and "Maria Maria" (featuring The Product G&B).

4. Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill, 66 weeks. Morissette's first U.S. album charted the week ending June 18, 1995 and hit 10M the week ending Sept. 15, 1996. Morissette won four Grammys, including Album of the Year, on Feb. 28, 1996. The album spawned three top 10 hits: "Ironic," "You Learn" and "Head Over Feet."

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5. Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard soundtrack, 72 weeks. Houston's first soundtrack album charted the week ending Nov. 29, 1992 and hit 10M the week ending April 3, 1994. Houston won three Grammys, including Album of the Year, on March 1, 1994. The album spawned three top 10 hits: "I Will Always Love You," "I'm Every Woman" and "I Have Nothing."

6. Adele, 21, 92 weeks. Adele's sophomore album charted the week ending Feb. 27, 2011 and hit 10M the week ending Nov. 25, 2012. Adele won six Grammys, including Album of the Year, on Feb. 12, 2012. The album spawned three #1 hits: "Rolling In The Deep," "Someone Like You" and "Set Fire To The Rain."

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7. Creed, Human Clay, 93 weeks. Creed's sophomore album charted the week ending Oct. 3, 1999 and hit 10M the week ending July 8, 2001. "With Arms Wide Open" won a Grammy as Best Rock Song on Feb. 21, 2001. The album spawned two top 10 hits: "Higher" and "With Arms Wide Open."

8. Shania Twain, Come On Over, 96 weeks. Twain's third album charted the week ending Nov. 9, 1997 and hit 10M the week ending Sept. 5, 1999.  Twain won four Grammys over the course of two years for her work on the album. The album spawned three top 10 hits: "You're Still The One," "From This Moment On" and "That Don't Impress Me Much."

9. Britney Spears, …Baby One More Time, 106 weeks. Spears' debut album charted the week ending Jan. 17, 1999 and hit 10M the week ending Jan. 21, 2001. The album spawned two top 10 hits: "…Baby One More Time" and "(You Drive Me) Crazy."

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10. Celine Dion, Falling Into You, three years and three weeks. Dion's fourth English-language studio album charted the week ending March 17, 1996 and hit 10M the week ending April 4, 1999. Dion won two Grammys, including Album of the Year, on Feb. 26, 1997. The album spawned three top 10 hits: "Because You Loved Me," "It's All Coming To Me Now" and a cover of Eric Carmen's "All By Myself."

11. Backstreet Boys, Backstreet Boys, four years and four months. The boy band's debut album charted the week ending Aug. 17, 1997 and hit 10M the week ending Dec. 9, 2001. The album spawned five top 10 hits: "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)," "As Long As You Love Me," "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)," "I'll Never Break Your Heart" and "All I Have To Give."

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12. The Beatles, 1, four years and four months. The hit-studded compilation charted the week ending Nov. 19, 2000 and hit 10M the week ending March 20, 2005. The album contains all 20 of the group's #1 hits on the Hot 100, from "I Want To Hold Your Hand" to "The Long And Winding Road."

13. Norah Jones, Come Away With Me, four years and 11 months. Jones' debut album charted the week ending March 3, 2002 and hit 10M the week ending Feb. 11, 2007. Jones won five Grammys, including Album of the Year, on Feb. 23, 2003. The album didn't spawn a top 10 hit. Its biggest hit, the smoky "Don't Know Why," peaked at #30.

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14. Soundtrack, Titanic, five years. The soundtrack charted the week ending Dec. 14, 1997 and hit 10M the week ending Dec. 1, 2002. Composer James Horner won two Oscars on March 23, 1998 and three Grammys on Feb. 24, 1999. The album spawned a #1 hit: Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme From 'Titanic')."

15. Metallica, Metallica, six years and four months. The band's fifth regular studio album hit The Billboard 200 in the issue dated Aug. 31, 1991 and hit 10M the week ending Dec. 21, 1997. The album won a Grammy as Best Metal Performance on Feb. 25, 1992. The album didn't spawn a top 10 hit. Its biggest hit, "Enter Sandman," reached #16.

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16. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP, six years and six months. The rapper's sophomore album charted the week ending May 28, 2000 and hit 10M the week ending Nov. 26, 2006. Eminem won three Grammys, including Best Rap Album, on Feb. 21, 2001. The album spawned the top 10 hit "The Real Slim Shady."

17. Usher, Confessions, eight years and five months. The R&B star's fourth studio album charted the week ending March 28, 2004 and hit 10M the week ending July 1, 2012. Usher won three Grammys, including Best Contemporary R&B Album, on Feb. 13, 2005. The album spawned three #1 hits: "Yeah!" (featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris), "Burn" and "Confessions Part II." In addition, "My Boo," a collabo with Alicia Keys, hit #1. The song was added to a deluxe edition of the album, which was released in October 2004.

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18. Hootie & the Blowfish, Cracked Rear View, eight years, 5-1/2 months. The group's debut album charted the week ending July 10, 1994 and hit 10M the week ending Dec. 22, 2002. The band won two Grammys, including Best New Artist, on Feb. 28, 1996. The album spawned three top 10 hits: "Hold My Hand," "Let Her Cry" and "Only Wanna Be With You."

19. Eminem, The Eminem Show, nine years and four months. The rapper's third album charted the week ending May 26, 2002 and hit 10M the week ending Oct. 2, 2011. Eminem won two Grammys, including Best Rap Album, on Feb. 23, 2003. The album spawned two top 10 hits: "Without Me" and "Cleanin' Out My Closet."

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20. Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory, 11 years and 10 months. The rock band's debut album charted the week ending Oct. 29, 2000 and hit 10M the week ending Aug. 19, 2012. "Crawling" won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance on Feb. 27, 2002. The album also included "In The End," a #2 hit on the Hot 100.

21. Bob Marley & the Wailers, Legend, 18 years. The reggae legend's compilation hit The Billboard 200 in the issue dated Aug. 18, 1984, which was nearly seven years before Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales. It reached 10M (counting just post-1991 sales) the week ending June 21, 2009. None of the album's songs (as recorded by Marley) cracked the Hot 100. "Exodus" came closest. It "bubbled under" the chart at #103.

Note: Pearl Jam's 1991 album Ten is very close to topping 10M. Its sales currently stand at 9,981,000. I'll let you know when it goes over the top. Two other albums are within 500K of hitting 10M: Celine Dion's 1997 album Let's Talk About Love (9,597,000) and Garth Brooks' 1991 album Ropin The Wind (9,571,000).

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