MRC Data, which tallies sales information for Billboard’s charts, has crunched the final sales numbers for 2021, and Adele, Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo all came out on top.
Adele’s album 30 is officially the top-selling album of 2021, with 1.464 million copies sold across all formats: CD, vinyl LP, cassette and digital downloads. It was the only album to sell a million copies in 2021. Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) and Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR were the second and third top-selling albums of the year.
Speaking of Taylor, four of her releases made the list of the 10 top-selling albums of the year: In addition to Red, the list also includes evermore, folklore and Fearless (Taylor’s Version). That’s the first time since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991 that one artist had four of the year’s 10 best-sellers.
While Adele’s 30 was the top-selling album of the year, controversial country star Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album was the most popular album of the year, with 3.226 million equivalent album units earned. That’s a different measurement from album sales, and takes into account the massive amount of streaming the album received.
Meanwhile, Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” was the most-streamed song of 2021 in the U.S., with more than 804 million on-demand audio and video streams combined. It’s followed by Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license” and “good 4 u.” “Levitating” was also 2021’s top radio song. The top-selling digital song of 2021 was BTS‘ “Butter
Overall, U.S. album sales increased for the first time in a decade — not coincidentally, 2021 and 2011 both boasted new albums by Adele. For the first time in the modern era, vinyl outsold CDs, while physical album sales overall — CD, vinyl LP and cassette — were up by nearly 22%.
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