The Year’s Top Albums

You probably already know that Adele’s 21 is the year’s best-selling album, but did you realize that Adele will also have the year’s #1 single (“Rolling In The Deep”) and #1 music video (Live At The Royal Albert Hall)? No other artist in Nielsen SoundScan history (which dates to 1991) has ever topped all three of these year-end charts. 

21 is sure to become the first album to sell 5 million copies in a calendar year since Usher’s Confessions in 2004. “Rolling In The Deep” has already become the first song to sell 5 million copies in a calendar year since Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind 1997” in 1997.

21 will also become the first album to rank as the year’s best-seller both in CD sales (it has sold 3,159,000 CDs) and digital sales (it has sold 1,644,000 digital copies).

There are still four chart weeks left in the calendar year, but let’s take a look at the top 10 albums for the year-to-date, as well as the leaders in a wide range of genres, from comedy to reggae.

 

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way ranks #2 for the year. If it holds on to that ranking, this will be the second time in the past three years that female solo artists have claimed the year’s top two best-sellers. Taylor Swift and Susan Boylehad the two best-selling albums of 2009. 

Watch The Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West ranks #6 for the year-to-date. This will mark Jay-Z’s second time in the year-end top 10; West’s third. This will be the first collaborative album to make the year-end top 10 in Nielsen SoundScan history. Before this, the highest-ranking for a collabo was #42, the ranking for both Live At The Troubadour by Carole King & James Taylor last year and Riding With The King by B. B. King & Eric Clapton in 2000.

 

Michael Buble’s Christmas is already the year’s seventh best-selling album. The album, which has been #1 the last two weeks and is expected to remain on top through the holidays, will probably wind up at #2 or #3 for the year. That would be the highest year-end ranking for a Christmas album since Josh Groban’s Noelwas the #1 album of 2007. 

A second Christmas album, Justin Bieber’s Under The Mistletoe, is #24 for the year-to-date, and may wind up in the year-end top 10 when all the returns are in. That would make this the first year in Nielsen SoundScan history in which two holiday albums made the year-end top 10.

Bieber may have two albums in the year-end top 20. His Never Say Never: The Remixes is currently #18 for the year. This would be the second straight year that Bieber has achieved this feat. Only one other artist has placed two albums in the year-end top 20 in back-to-back years. That’s the Bieb’s fellow Canadian Celine Dion. (Honorable mention to Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift, who placed two albums in the top 20 in non-consecutive years.)

Beyonce’s 4 and Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream are currently in the top 10 for the year-to-date, but both are vulnerable to being displaced when December’s sales are factored in. Two other albums—Under the Mistletoe and Drake’s Take Care—are closing in fast and may steal one or both of those spots.

4 is, however, likely to wind up as the year’s best-selling (non-rap) R&B album. If it does, all four of Beyonce’s solo studio albums will have earned that distinction.

Here are the top 10 albums so far this year, with selected other title holders.

 

1. Adele, 21, 4,817,000. This is the best-selling album so far this year. Adele is the first British artist to have the year’s best-selling album since Spice Girls scored in 1997 with Spice. 21 debuted at #1 the week ending Feb. 27. It has logged 13 weeks at #1, more than any other album since the Titanicsoundtrack had 16 weeks on top in 1998. 

2. Lady Gaga, Born This Way, 1,973,000. This is the best-selling album so far this year by an American artist. This will be Gaga’s highest ranking to date on the year-end chart. Her debut album, The Fame, was #4 for 2009 and #6 for 2010. The new album debuted at #1 the week ending May 29. It spent two weeks on top.

 

3. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter IV, 1,776,000. This is the best-selling rap album so far this year and also the best-selling album by a male artist. (Buble may well snatch the latter title.) Tha Carter IIIwas the #1 album of 2008. The new album debuted at #1 the week ending Sept. 4. It spent two weeks on top. 

4. Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party, 1,389,000. This is the best-selling country album so far this year. It’s also the best-selling album so far this year that was released in a prior year. The album sold an additional 687,000 copies in 2010, which made it that year’s #31 album. It debuted and peaked at #2 the week ending Nov. 7, 2010.

 

5. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More, 1,328,000. This is the best-selling album by a group or duo so far this year. The album got a boost from the group’s performance with Bob Dylan and the Avett Brotherson the Grammy Awards in February. sold an additional 626,000 copies in 2010, which made it that year’s #36 album. It debuted at #127 the week ending Feb. 21, 2010. It peaked at #2. 

6. Jay-Z/Kanye West, Watch The Throne, 1,124,000. This is the first collaborative album to rank among the year’s top 10 albums in the Nielsen SoundScan era. The album debuted at #1 the week ending Aug. 14. It spent two weeks on top.

7. Michael Buble, Christmas, 1,038,000. This will be the fourth time in the past five years that a Christmas album has ranked among the year’s top five albums. Josh Groban’s Noel was #1 for 2007, Andrea Bocelli’s My Christmas was #5 for 2009 and Susan Boyle’s The Gift was #5 for 2010. Buble’s album debuted at #3 the week ending Oct. 30, 2011. It has spent the past two weeks on top.

8. Beyonce, 4, 956,000. This is the year’s best-selling (non-rap) R&B album. Beyonce’s three previous solo albums all finished in the year-end top 10. This will either just make, or just miss, the year-end top 10. 4 debuted at #1 the week ending July 3. It spent two weeks on top.

 

9. Lady Antebellum, Own The Night, 908,000. The album debuted at #1 the week ending Sept. 18. This will be the second year in a row that Lady A has had an album in the year-end top 10. Need You Nowwas #2 for 2010. 

10. Katy Perry, Teenage Dream, 907,000. This is one of three albums to rank among the top 20 albums of both 2010 and 2011. (Taylor Swift’s Speak Now and Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday are the others.) The album also sold 997,000 copies in 2010, which made it that year’s #14 album. It debuted at #1 the week ending Aug. 29, 2010.

 

16. Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto, 798,000. This is the best-selling rock album so far this year (this counts Mumford & Sons’ album as contemporary folk). The album debuted at #1 the week ending Oct. 30. 

23. Adele, 19, 675,000. This 2008 album is the best-selling catalog album so far this year. The album, which features Adele’s Grammy-winning hit “Chasing Pavements,” sold an additional 883,000 copies in previous years. The album debuted at #62 the week ending June 15, 2008. It peaked at #10 in February 2009, the week after she won two Grammys.

30. P!nk, Greatest Hits…So Far!!!, 626,000. This is the best-selling greatest hits set so far this year. The album, which collects P!nk’s hits from “Get The Party Started” to “F**kin’ Perfect,” sold an additional 284,000 copies in 2010, which made it that year’s #122 album. It debuted at #14 the week ending Nov. 21, 2010. It peaked at #5.

 

35. Jackie Evancho, Dream With Me, 569,000. This is the best-selling “classical crossover” album so far this year. The album features two prominent guest stars, Susan Boyle and Barbra Streisand. The album debuted and peaked at #2 the week ending June 19. 

53. Kirk Franklin, Hello Fear, 386,000. This is the best-selling gospel or Contemporary Christian album so far this year. The album features such well-known gospel artists as Marvin Sapp and Marvin Winans. It debuted and peaked at #5 the week ending March 27.

58. Kidz Bop Kids, Kids Bop 19, 362,000. This is the best-selling children’s album so far this year. The album debuted and peaked at #2 the week ending Jan. 23.

 

59. Soundtrack, Lemonade Mouth, 360,000. This album from the Disney Channel TV series is the best-selling soundtrack so far this year. This is the lowest-ranking for the year’s top soundtrack since 2004, when Shrek 2 was the year’s top soundtrack despite ranking just #74 for the year. Lemonade Mouthdebuted at #18 the week ending April 17. It peaked at #4. 

62. Soundtrack, Country Strong, 340,000. This is the best-selling soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie so far this year. The album sold an additional 43,000 copies in 2010. It debuted at #73 the week ending Oct. 31, 2010. It peaked at #6.

85. Alison Krauss & Union Station, Paper Airplanes, 297,000. This is the best-selling bluegrass album so far this year. It debuted and peaked at #3 the week ending April 17.

138. Bob Marley & the Wailers, Legend, 212,000. This 1984 compilation is the best-selling reggae album so far this year. It debuted at #168 in August 1984. It has climbed as high as #26.

 

147. The Lonely Island, Turtleneck & Chain, 202,000. This is the best-selling comedy album so far this year. This marks the third year in a row that the trio has had the year’s top-selling comedy album. Nobody else has had the year’s top comedy album three years running in Nielsen SoundScan history. The album debuted and peaked at #3 the week ending May 15. 

171. Prince Royce, Prince Royce, 177,000. This is the best-selling Latin music album so far this year. It debuted at #151 the week ending Sept. 26, 2010. It peaked at #77.

 

185. Broadway Cast Recording, The Book Of Mormon, 170,000. This is the best-selling original cast album so far this year. That distinction was held by either Wicked or Jersey Boys in each of the last five years. The album from the Tony-winning musical debuted at #31 the week ending May 22. It peaked at #3, which made it the highest-charting original cast album since Hair reached #1 in 1969. 

These next albums aren’t among the year’s top 200 sellers, but hold distinctions of note.

The Beatles, Abbey Road, 121,000. This 1969 classic has sold 34,000 vinyl copies so far this year, more than any other album. The album entered the chart at a bizarrely low #178 in October 1969. It logged 11 weeks at #1.

Celtic Thunder, Heritage, 100,000. This is the best-selling world music album so far this year. It debuted at #40 the week ending Feb. 27, 2011. It peaked at #11.

Mannheim Steamroller, Christmas Symphony, 89,000. This is the best-selling new age album so far this year. It debuted at #160 the week ending Oct. 23. It jumps to #19 this week.

 

Esperanza Spalding, Chamber Music Society, 83,000. This is the best-selling jazz album so far this year. (Note: I’m classifying Michael Buble’s Christmas and Tony Bennett’s Duets IIas traditional pop, rather than jazz.) This is a respectable number for a jazz album, but a very poor number for the winner of the Grammy for Best New Artist. Spalding’s album debuted at #107 the week ending Aug. 22, 2010. It peaked at #34 after she won the Grammy for Best New Artist. 

To My Readers: Next Thursday, I’ll look at the top 20 songs for the year-to-date. Then on Wednesday, Jan. 4, the day the final numbers come in, I’ll update both of these posts. Check back then and find out what the final rankings and exact sales tallies are.

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