It’s been revealed by the Official UK Charts company that Adele’s 21 has now outsold Michael Jackson’s Thriller by 500 records. However it’s still selling a rate of 20,000 a week so by the time this gets to print its highly likely that the figure could be nearer 50,000.

It appears the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) could hardly contain themselves. In jubilant excitement, Martin Talbot of the Charts Company proclaimed; “Thriller has long been recognised as one of the most iconic albums of all time – there is now no doubt that 21 can be spoken of in the same breath’.

This news must not be met without a pinch of salt though. While in the space of 14 months the album has now sold 21 million copies worldwide, an unprecedented success for indie label XL Recordings, Thriller has sold somewhere in the midst of 110million sales (thanks to the posthumous boost).

Michael Jackson can rest easily knowing that the closest competitor for album sales is somewhere in the region of 60million units behind him (Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon). Adele is still not in the top 50 of the world.

Despite this, the album is now the number one selling album of the 21st century, beating Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, putting the record into the top five in terms of UK sales history.

The LP now sits behind Oasis, Queen, ABBA and The Beatles, earning her the title of the UK’s top selling female artist. And to praise her, only for album sales seems narrow-minded. With six Grammy’s and two Brits as well as critical acclaim across the press, it’s fair to judge the album as an almighty achievement on many other levels.

The success of Adele in the context of the 21st century record sales slump is what makes her success impressive. In her 23rd week in the charts, UK chart sales hit a 640 week low. In the on-going battle between file-sharing websites and record companies, Adele’s success stands as evidence that the public do indeed still buy records from somewhere.

My complaint on the subject is what this potentially means for the record industry. After all, when Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black reached number one, artists attempting to copy her success through half the originality sprung up in droves (Lilly Allen, Kate Nash, Duffy, Gabrielle Cilmi, etc.) with varying success. But all in all, a great success for British music.


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