It got to be one of those stats you thought you’d never see reached again, like hitting .400 in baseball or averaging a triple-double in basketball. The odds of an album selling ten million copies in the year 2012 couldn’t be much lower, with record sales down across the board, and the proliferation among music listeners both in terms of the variety of music listened to and the means of listening hurting the chances of albums reaching that kind of unifying blockbuster status again. It hadn’t happened with an album since Usher’s Confessions, released in 2004, which spun off four chart-topping singles but still took until July of this year to crack eight digits.
Now, in less than two years’ of release time, Adele’s 21 has achieved similar status. With the 28,000 it sold last week (its 92nd), the album’s tally is now up to over 10,020,000—the fastest album to reach Diamond status since ‘N Sync’s No Strings Attached got to ten mil in just 43 weeks of release. Considering that no album released in 2012 has even cracked two million yet, and most of last year’s other highest-profile releases (Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV) tapped out at double-platinum, this is just an almost inconceivable achievement. It’s some 50 Shades of Grey-type dominance over the rest of the field, and it was just about the last chart benchmark 21 had to cross off its list before settling into repertory classic status.
Speaking of final chart benchmarks, Rihanna gets to check off a big one with her seventh album Unapologetic this week, which sold nearly 240k and became, somewhat improbably, her first-ever No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. Congrats to both ladies, especially to Rihanna for proving there’s no such thing as bad publicity.