As she prepares to release her fourth studio album, 30, Adele’s 21 has been named as the biggest-selling album by a woman in the UK.
BBC Radio 2’s Official All-time Female Artist Chart is based on UK sales and downloads as compiled by The Official Charts Company. Jo Whiley announced the results in a Top 30 countdown on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds (Saturday 16th October, 1-3pm) as part of the network’s celebrations for National Album Day, which this year has the theme Women In Music.
21 was Adele’s second album, released in January 2011. It is the UK’s fourth best-selling album of all-time, with only Queen's Greatest Hits, The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and ABBA's Gold having sold more copies. It was the longest-running UK No. 1 album for 45 years, spending a total of 23 weeks in the top spot.
Adele's 21 was the world’s biggest album for two years running, selling 18 million copies globally in 2011 and 8.3 million the following year. UK sales (including streams) of the album to date are 5,289,928, while follow-up 25 is on 3,705,477.
The anticipation surrounding the release of 30 on November 19 has sent both 25 and 21 back into the upper reaches of the chart.
As revealed in our weekly charts analysis, 25 climbed back to No.6 (4,773 sales) for its first Top 10 appearance since March 2017. 21 is at No.14 (3,697 sales) for its best showing since July 2016, while her debut release 19 is charting for the first time in five years (No.54, 1,781 sales). Adele albums increased consumption by over 45% week-on-week.
Jo Whiley said: “Adele has enchanted us from the very beginning with her voice, her songs and her personality. When she writes, she writes from the heart and that’s why her music resonates with so many people. She tells it like it is, whether onstage to thousands of people at Glastonbury or through the songs on her albums, and that’s why she is so loved and a global superstar. She sings it like she means it - because she does. She also has a phenomenal voice and hasn’t changed from the very first Live Lounge I did with her at Radio 1 to when I spoke to her just before she headlined Glasto. Always honest, down to earth, a superstar and very very funny.”
Laura Busson, commissioning executive for Radio 2, said: “Radio 2 is proud to support National Album Day by celebrating this year’s theme of Women in Music playing tracks from female artists all day. The Top 30 chart is a wonderful reminder of the incredible contribution women have made - and continue to make - to the music industry, and congratulations to Adele on topping the chart.”
Nine of the artists in the chart are from the UK. As well as two albums in the Top 5, Adele also has a third - 19 - at No. 14. Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, which is No.2, has sales to date of 4,170,504.
BBC Radio 2’s Official All-time Female Artist Chart (based on sales only)
1. Adele – 21 (released 2011)
2. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black (2006)
3. Madonna – The Immaculate Collection (1990)
4. Shania Twain – Come On Over (1997)
5. Adele – 25 (2015)
6. Leona Lewis – Spirit (2007)
7. Dido – No Angel (1999)
8. Spice Girls – Spice (1996)
9. Lady Gaga – The Fame (2008)
10. Dido – Life for Rent (2003)
11. Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill (1995)
12. Tracey Chapman - Tracey Chapman (1988)
13. Norah Jones – Come Away With Me (2002)
14. Adele – 19 (2008)
15. Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events (2012)
16. Whitney Houston – Whitney (1985)
17. Duffy – Rockferry (2008)
18. Tina Turner – Simply The Best (1989)
19. Celine Dion – Falling Into You (1996)
20. Celine Dion – Let’s Talk About Love (1997)
21. Christina Aguilera – Stripped (2002)
22. Rihanna – Loud (2010)
23. Susan Boyle – I Dreamed A Dream (2009)
24. Rihanna – Good Girl Gone Bad (2007)
25. Katie Melua – Call Off The Search (2003)
26. Eva Cassidy – Songbird (1998)
27. Pink – Missundaztood (2001)
28. Avril Lavigne – Let Go (2002)
29. Whitney Houston – The Greatest Hits (2000)
30. Madonna – Ray Of Light (1998)