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Adele's '21' tops 1 million; Record Store Day looms as sales slow

April 13, 2011 |  5:36 pm


Last week saw a new Britney Spears album land on the U.S. pop charts, a set that was teased and hyped for months, with the simple unveiling of an album cover resulting in online blog posts, polls and dozens of reader comments. One week later, a diva is celebrating more than 1 million copies sold of her latest album, but it's not Britney, as her "Femme Fatale" slips to No. 2, with sales down more than 70%, according to Nielsen SoundScan, giving her a two-week total of 352,000 copies.

Meanwhile, U.K. soul scorcher Adele is having a banner year, as her "21" returns to the top of the Billboard charts, adding an additional 88,000 copies to its tally. In seven weeks, her "21" has managed to become the year's first million seller, as it just crosses the seven-figure mark this week. 

Two other newcomers land on the top 10 this week, and both hail from the rock realm. Local masked rockers the Hollywood Undead enter at No. 4, selling 66,000 copies of "American Tragedy," while U.K. metal act Asking Alexandria enters at No. 9 with "Reckless & Relentless." Both are career peaks.

Other notes from this week's chart:

The festival season is upon us, and yes, it's important ... Especially if you're the Strokes. The band's new album, "Angles," has received a lukewarmly positive greeting from critics, and fans have thus far taken a wait-and-see approach. The album has sold 123,000 copies in three weeks, and is tumbling down the charts, falling to No. 45 this week. The band has a headlining shot at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival this weekend, and while the fest isn't one to instantly spur sales, a strong showing by the band could at least re-ignite attention for the album. 

Speaking of sparks. Expect retail numbers to be up next week, at least in one sector. Saturday makes the return of Record Store Day, a popular indie-retail-driven marketing event in which numerous labels and artists release limited-edition equipment to mom-and-pop stores. Last year, Record Store Day inspired a 12% boost in sales at indie outlets. Though they're not relying on the likes of Britney and Chris Brown, the importance of Record Store Day has had indie outlets declaring that it provides a bigger sales bump than the holiday season. Looking at the bigger picture, overall album sales are down about 11%. Yet those in the market for some Record Store Day exclusives, expect your local dealer to be packed.

The great unknown: Radiohead's "King of Limbs" has a solid second week, with sales holding steady at around 67,000 -- a 3% dip from the previous week. In two weeks, "The King of Limbs" has sold a total of 137,000 copies, but that number does not include Radiohead's direct-to-consumer digital sales over the last two months. But this much is known: The two-week sales for "King of Limbs" tally 137,000, which is in the ballpark of the first week physical sales of "In Rainbows," which sold 122,000 copies when it hit retail shelves after its direct-to-consumer, pay-what-you-want model. 


Album review: Adele's '21'

Rihanna calls on Britney Spears for steamy 'S&M' remix

SXSW 2011: The Strokes cause gridlock, Austra makes an entrance and Le Butcherette go on the attack

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Adele. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times