Adele is still recovering from throat surgery, but that hasn’t stopped 21 from continuing its tear through the record books.
After picking up a half dozen Grammy nominations last week, 21 also officially became the best-selling album in the UK in the 21st century. In doing so, it eclipsed Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, which has shifted 3.3 million copies since its release in 2006. 21, meanwhile, has moved 3.4 million copies in less than a year, a pretty remarkable feat in the current music-business climate.
What’s even more amazing is the number of high-profile homegrown acts who have released albums in the UK in the past 11 years who still haven’t sold as many albums as Adele. Considering the length of time the albums have been out, and the stature of the artists involved, you would think that U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind, Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head, or Radiohead’s Kid A would be contenders for the sales crown. In fact, the only other album from the 21st century that has put up Adele- and Winehouse-sized numbers is James Blunt’s 2004 debut Back to Bedlam (which was notable for its inclusion of “You’re Beautiful,” easily one of the most polarizing radio hits of the modern era).
If she can keep up the same kind of momentum, Adele could find herself in striking distance of some all-time sales figures in her homeland. She’s right behind the biggest-selling albums of all time there, which include Queen’s Greatest Hits, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Oasis’ (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory, and ABBA’s ABBA Gold. That’s some pretty rare company, and it’s incredible to think that those albums have had decades to accumulate the kinds of numbers Adele has done in less than twelve months.
Are you surprised at Adele’s dominance, or is it merely one more clear victory for the critical and commercial behemoth that is 21? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and tell us: What’s your favorite British album of the 21st century? I’m partial to Jarvis Cocker’s debut solo album, but that’s because I’m kind of weird.
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