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British singer Adele holds up her six Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in February 2012. Provided to China Daily
British singer Adele's Grammy-winning 21 scored a rare feat in 2012 as it topped US album sales for a second straight year, beating out US country-pop star Taylor Swift's Red, Nielsen Soundscan said on Thursday.
It was the first time a single album had been a top-seller for two years in a row since Nielsen began tracking album sales in 1991, the organization said.
But US album sales overall fell 4 percent in 2012 to 315.96 million albums, after 2011 saw a rare 3 percent bump in sales.
Adele's 21 sold 4.41 million units in the United States in 2012 to top Swift's Red, which sold 3.11 million copies. In 2011, 21 sold 5.82 million units.
"It's a sort of a once-in-a-lifetime album," said Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts at Billboard. "Only a few of these albums come along in history."
The heartbreak record, with hits like Rolling in the Deep and Someone Like You, earned Adele six Grammy Awards in early 2012, boosting the profile of the 24-year-old singer and songwriter, who records on indie label XL Recordings.
The album sold at a furious pace, reaching 10 million albums in the span of two years, Caulfield noted. The last album to achieve that feat was boy band 'N Sync's No Strings Attached, which was released in 2000.
"It's really the right combination of artistry and hit singles," Caulfield said.
"She really crossed over from pop to Latin to adult contemporary to dance," he added. "Young and old consumers bought it, and because of its mixture of fans, she was able to sell it as well as she did."
Adele's success came despite the drop in 2012 US album sales.
"A year gain in album sales is a mega-achievement. ... It's the way the market works now, people buy songs and not albums," Caulfield said.
Indeed, digital-song sales rose 5 percent in 2012 to a record high of 1.336 billion downloads.
The year's best-selling albums in the US had a particularly British flavor as Swift was the lone American in the top five.
British boy band One Direction's Up All Night, released in 2011, placed third with 1.62 million units sold, while their 2012 follow-up, Take Me Home, took the fifth spot with 1.34 million units sold.
Britain's folk revivalists Mumford & Sons placed fourth with their album Babel selling 1.46 million units.
(China Daily 01/05/2013 page6)