International Women’s Day: Adele named as biggest-selling female artist of the century

Fans are hoping the singer will release her fourth album this year

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 08 March 2021 12:30
Adele explains why she's hosting and not performing on SNL

Adele has been revealed as the best-selling female album artist of the century, ahead of musicians including Madonna, P!nk and Rihanna.

Plans have been unveiled for this year’s National Album Day, which will return for its fourth edition on Saturday 16 October.

This year’s theme is Celebrating Women in Music, with an announcement revealing the top-selling female artists since 2000, as well as the biggest-selling albums by women.

According to Official Charts Company data, all three of Adele’s albums feature on the Top 10 biggest-selling records by women.

Each of her albums – 17, 21 and 25 – have been Brit-certified as at least 8x Platinum in the UK.

Topping the list was Adele’s most successful album, 21, which was released in 2011. This was followed by Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, which turns 15 in October, while Leona Lewis’s debut Spirit came in at number four.

The National Album Day announcement noted that all three artists – Adele, Winehouse and Lewis – are Brit School alumni.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, and Kim Bayley, Chief Executive Entertainment Retailers Association, the organisations behind National Album Day, said in a joint statement: “We are delighted that National Album Day is returning for a fourth edition, shining a light this year on the tremendous contribution women make to music through the album format, supported by our official partners Bowers & Wilkins and BBC Sounds.

“While the ways in which fans enjoy music constantly evolve, the album remains central to artists’ self-expression and to fans’ understanding of what an artist has to say. National Album Day is an opportunity for artists and fans alike to celebrate this much loved artform and remind ourselves of its continuing power to tell stories, influence and inspire.”

The top 10 women album artists (2000-2021) are as follows:

1)    Adele

2)    P!nk

3)    Madonna

4)    Rihanna

5)    Dido

6)    Amy Winehouse

7)    Kylie Minogue 

8)    Beyoncé

9)    Britney Spears

10) Lady Gaga     

The 10 top-selling albums by women are:

1) Adele – 21

2) Amy Winehouse – Back to Black

3) Adele – 25

4) Leona Lewis – Spirit

5) Lady Gaga – Fame

6) Dido – No Angel

7) Dido – Life For Rent

8) Norah Jones – Come Away With Me

9) Adele – 19

10) Emeli Sandé – Our Version of Events  

National Album Day is organised jointly by the BPI – the UK independent and major labels association (The Brit Awards and Mercury Prize) – and the Entertainment Retailers Association (Record Store Day). 

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