It's all about Adele.
Okay, maybe not entirely. U.S. album sales rose 1.3% in 2011, for the first uptick in seven years, and there were some other factors involved besides the staggering success of 21, the sophomore release from the British singer-songwriter who does have a last name. (It's Adkins.)
Total album sales rose to 330.6 million units from 326.2, with the slight increase a sharp contrast to the 12.8% decrease a year before. Additionally, digital track sales were up 8.5% from 2010 to a record 1.27 billion units.
Sparked by the mega-hits "Rolling In The Deep" and "Someone Like You," 21, which was released last February and is the #1 album in the country again this week with over 140,000 copies sold, led the way in every category. It's 5.82 million copies moved are the most since Usher's Confessions sold almost 8 million in 2004, a time when the music industry sales implosion was in its early days.
Digital album sales rose 20% to 103.1 million, with 21 accounting for 1.8 million of them, the most of any release. (One reason for pessimism: That number was so high in part because online retailers bean selling digital albums at deep discounts to juice sales, pumping up total numbers while lessening revenues.) "Rolling In The Deep" was also the top selling digital song, at 5.81 million, besting LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" at 5.47 million.
Far behind Adele were Michael Buble's Christmas at 2.25 million copies at number two, Lady Gaga's Born This Way was third with 2.1 million, with many of those sold for a deeply discounted 99 cents on Amazon during the first week of release. Roundng out the top ten was Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV, Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party, Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More, Drake's Take Care, Justin Bieber's Under The Mistletoe, Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch The Throne and Lady Antebellum's We Own The Night.