What Adele Just Did


By: Connor Lenahan

Unless you live under a rock at the bottom of the ocean and fraternize with sponges and squids, you have seen that Adele, the apparent queen of the known universe, has released her 3rd album, 25, in the last week or so. Seriously, this has been largely inescapable. It’s not even a bad thing – Adele is terrific after all. However, I’ll be you didn’t realize what she did in her first week of sales for 25.

Adele reportedly accounted for 42% of music sales the week that 25 was released. Let’s start small by saying “holy shit” in unison. How could any one artist be that dominant on the charts? It’s mind boggling even in theory, let alone in actuality. But of course, people are buying less albums than they were when I was born. Adele’s accomplishment is huge, but it isn’t completely mind-blowing, right?

Well, actually, it very much is.

25 sold 3.38 million copies last week. That alone is the biggest single week for any album since Nielsen started keeping records in 1991. The closest I could find was *NSYNC’s No Strings Attached, which came out over a decade ago and didn’t even crack 2.5 million in its first week. But, again, Adele has only sold 3.38 million copies. In years past garbage bands have sold 10+ million albums. There’s something important to note however: people do not buy albums as much as before. We can go ahead and look at last year’s highest seller – Taylor Swift’s 1989 – and see the top of the charts now is lower than in, say, 2005.

But last year 1989 sold 3.66 million copies. That’s not a typo. Adele, in a single week, has almost matched Taylor Swift’s year total. That’s unbelievable no matter who you are. Factor in that her previous album, 21, similarly broke all current day sales logic with 30+ million albums sold and being the highest selling album on iTunes for two years, and you have the undisputed, undefeated, relatively unchallenged queen of music. That is what Adele just did.