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Adele’s 21 has long looked destined to join the exclusive club of albums selling 3 million copies in the UK, but the speed at which it has got there is nothing short of astonishing.
Less than 33 weeks after XL released the singer’s second album on January 24, 21 has hit a sales landmark appropriately only previously reached by 21 other albums in the UK. But none of these other recordings managed to sell as many copies anywhere near as quickly as Adele has.
It was as recently as the latter part of April that Music Week was celebrating the Adele album’s two-millionth domestic sale as it equalled a 21st-century record set by Dido’s Life For Rent by taking 12 weeks to reach that milestone.
Twenty weeks later Adele is already at the next million level and must now be heavily fancied to eventually make it to 4 million sales – a feat just seven albums have accomplished in history in the UK.
All the elements are certainly in place for 21 to join that select group: they are Queen’s Greatest Hits, The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Abba’s Gold Greatest Hits, Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory.
In addition to 21 reaching 3 million sales in record time, it remains a Top 10 fixture on the weekly Official Charts Company chart. This means it still has plenty of life left in it to sell many more copies and get its cumulative total much, much higher than presently.


Adele’s manager Jonathan Dickins says the phenomenal sales are only part of the story. “Then you add onto that the sheer number of track sales,” he notes. “We’ve done 300,000 of Set Fire To The Rain. We’ve done virtually 1.1 million tracks on Someone Like You, 700,000 on Rolling In The Deep. It’s amazing. Track sales and album sales a lot of the time don’t correlate with each other, but to have extraordinary track sales figures and to have phenomenal album figures is definitely an incredible achievement.”
Until 21, the fastest album to make it to 3 million sales was achieved by Oasis’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, which sold its three-millionth copy one year, seven months and three weeks after being released by Creation.

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