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Adele leads the way as British acts invade US charts

Adele’s award-winning album 21 named the biggest-selling record in the US for the second year in a row
  • @adamsherwin10

American music fans have succumbed to a British invasion after figures showed that four of the five best-selling albums of the year in the Billboard charts were by UK artists.

Adele's award-winning album 21 has been named the biggest-selling record in the US for the second year in a row. The album, which spawned hits including "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You", sold 4.4 million copies in 2012 after shifting 5.8 million in 2011.

It is the first time that one album has topped the sales chart for two years in a row since Nielsen Soundscan began tracking US album sales in 1991.

One Direction, the boyband formed by X Factor contestants, held two spots in the top five. Their 2011 debut album Up All Night was at three, while their follow-up, Take Me Home, was the fifth-best seller.

The quintet racked up a total of 2.9 million album sales but their "What Makes You Beautiful" single sold an additional 3.9 million track downloads, hitting number six in the 2012 US top-selling singles list.

Mumford and Sons, the British folk rockers, are now the biggest guitar band in the United States. Their Babel album was the fourth best-seller of the year and is the only rock album in the top ten.

Taylor Swift was the sole US artist in the top five with her fourth studio album Red, which sold 3.1 million copies in just over two months.

British acts will compete for a new Global Success Award at next month's Brit Awards, recognising those with the highest international sales achieved during the 2012.

The British acts' success is credited to a willingness to tour the United States extensively and a keen ear for the kind of melodic song which appeals to radio programmers in a country where the medium remains crucial to mainstream success.

Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts at Billboard Magazine, said Adele's success was due to the "right combination of artistry and hit singles". He said: "She really crossed over from pop to Latin to adult contemporary to dance. Young and old consumers bought it."

Albums by North American stars including Justin Bieber and Bruce Springsteen failed to sell in large numbers as the US albums market fell by 4% to 316 million units, with fans turning to streaming sites and single track downloads.

Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" was the year's top-selling US song after being downloaded 6.8 million times. Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" was second with 6.5 million.

Meanwhile in the UK, Coexist, the second album by The XX, was the best-selling vinyl album of 2012, according to figures from the Official Charts Company. Vinyl sales grew for the fifth successive year with a total of 389,000 LPs sold during 2012 – an increase of 15.3 per cent over 2011.

UK hits best selling albums in the US in 2012

1. Adele: 21 (4.4 million copies)

2. Taylor Swift: Red (3.1 million )

3. One Direction: Up All Night (1.6 million)

4. Mumford and Sons: Babel (1.5 million)

5. One Direction: Take Me Home (1.3 million)

Source: Nielsen Soundscan