The Top 40 Best Selling Albums of the 21st Century so far...
To celebrate National Album Day, on Saturday 12 October 2019, Radio 2 counted down the Top 40 Best Selling Albums of the 21st century (so far), courtesy of The Official Charts Company.
In a special Pick of the Pops, Paul Gambaccini played tracks from hit albums by the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse, Dido, Ed Sheeran, Michael Bublé, Robbie Williams and many more superstars from the last 20 years.
Discover the top ten below, and the rest of the chart elsewhere on this page - and listen to tracks from the albums in Pick of the Pops - The 40 Best Selling Albums of the 21st Century
10) David Gray - White Ladder
'White Ladder', David Gray's fourth album, was certainly a slow-burner. It failed to chart on its initial 1998 release on his own record label, before finally entering the UK album charts on its 2000 re-release on ATO Records.
The album gained momentum off the back of a remixed version of one of its tracks, 'Babylon', which made No.5 in the UK singles chart in July 2000. However, it wasn't until August 2001 that it finally spent the first of its two non-consecutive weeks at No.1. The album spawned four more Top 40 hits, 'Please Forgive Me', 'This Year's Love', 'Sail Away' and 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye', going on to spend a total of 175 weeks in the Top 100 UK album chart.
9) Dido - No Angel
Initially released in the US in 1999, 'No Angel' hit record stores in the UK the following year. A sample of the track 'Thank You' appeared on Eminem's December 2000 UK No.1 single 'Stan', leading to new interest in the album, which itself topped the charts the in February 2001. Dido became one of the biggest pop stars of the year, with 'Here With Me' and 'Thank You' both reaching the Top 5 of the UK singles chart. Before finding fame as a solo artist, Dido featured on several tracks by Faithless, alongside her brother Rollo who was a founding member of the dance act.
8) Michael Bublé - Crazy Love
'Crazy Love' enjoyed a run of 63 weeks in the UK Top 20 album charts, following its 2009 release. It's the highest charting album on this list not to not have produced a No.1 single, with 'Haven't Met You Yet' the best performing hit from the album, peaking at No.5.
Bublé’s Crazy Love tour, launched off the back of the success of the album, was one of the highest grossing tours of all time - it lasted more than two years, from March 2010 till May 2012, and saw him perform 185 shows.
7) Leona Lewis - Spirit
The winner of 2006's X Factor released 'Spirit' the following year, and it debuted at No.1 in nine countries across the world, including the UK, the US, and Germany.
Leona was the first X Factor winner to have two consecutive No.1 singles. The first, 'A Moment Like This' (which features as a bonus track on the UK and Ireland version of 'Spirit') was Leona’s winners’ single at the end of X Factor 2006, while 'Bleeding Love', the first official single from Spirit, was released in October 2007, and also went straight to the top spot.
At the time, 'Spirit' was the fastest selling debut album of all time in the UK, a record later beaten by Susan Boyle's first LP.
6) James Blunt - Back To Bedlam
James Blunt’s debut 'Back to Bedlam' initially had a sluggish start in the charts, but all that changed after the success of the album’s third single, 'You’re Beautiful'. It was the best-selling album of the noughties – beating Dido’s No Angel amongst others. James Blunt “did the double“ in the UK charts for 5 weeks running – with 'Back to Bedlam' and 'You’re Beautiful' holding the album and single No.1 in the UK charts at the same time respectively.
5) Ed Sheeran ÷
÷ (pronounced Divide) has never left the UK Top 40 since it was released in 2017, having spent 20 weeks at No.1 and over 135 weeks in the UK Top 40 (and counting!) All 12 tracks on the album reached the Top 20 UK Charts following its release, sparking a change in chart eligibility rules.
'Shape of You' was initially a track Ed wrote hoping to sell to a female pop artist like Rihanna, as he never saw it living on the album. In an interview with Radio 1's Scott Mills, he revealed that the turning point was when he started including lyrics like "Van the Man on the jukebox”, and realising it was more in his voice than anyone else's. 'Shape of You' was the last song Ed added to the album, and proved to be the best-selling single from the album.
4) Ed Sheeran x
x (pronounced Multiply) had tremendous staying power in the charts, lasting 99 weeks in the Top 10 following its release in 2014, and 236 weeks (to date) in the UK Top 40 Charts. The credits for x lists a variety of producers from different genres including long-time collaborator Johnny McDaid of Snow Patrol, Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D. and Rick Rubin. As a result Ed Sheeran compares x to Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill due to this fusion. Ed actually delayed the release of x after an opportunity came up to record with Rick Rubin for 2 months, feeling this was something he couldn’t turn down.
3) Adele - 25
'25', released in 2015 is the fastest-selling album of all time. In its first week in the charts, it sold over 800,000 copies, beating the previous record held by Oasis' Be Here Now (in 1997). It also sold a million copies in just 10 days, a record which will take some beating. '25' made it to No.1 in the UK charts four times, being knocked off the top spot by four different records, including David Bowie's final album 'Blackstar'.
The music video to 'Hello', Adele's debut single from '25', took the world by storm. It’s the 15th most viewed music video on YouTube with over 2 and a half BILLION views. It even received a David Attenborough voiceover courtesy of Radio 1's Greg James.
The success of '25' led to a Glastonbury headline performance by Adele in June 2016, but since then all has been fairly quiet musically, as the world waits patiently for news of a follow-up record.
2) Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
'Back to Black', released in 2007, reached No.1 the following year, and has gone on to spend an incredible 60 weeks in the album Top 10 in the UK.
'Rehab', the debut single from 'Back to Black', was written with Mark Ronson shortly after they met for the first time. The hook "They tried to make me go to rehab but I said no, no no" was a line Amy used in conversation with Mark while they were clothes shopping in New York. At the time, Amy explained that the meaning of the phrase 'Back to Black' is to go back to something that feels comfortable following a break-up. For her ex-partner, this was to go back to his ex. For her, it was to go back to drinking and hard times.
Amy died, aged just 27, in 2011, with 'Back to Black' returning to the top of the album charts shortly afterwards. A compilation of later recordings 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures' was released posthumously, but for most, 'Back to Black' remains her definitive record, with only one album bettering its sales in the 21st century.
1) Adele - 21
'21' was only the second album ever to achieve over one million digital sales in the UK, following Eminem's 'Recovery'. It's spent an incredible 23 weeks at No. 1, topping the chart on several occasions. After 11 successful weeks at the top, following its release in January 20011, Foo Fighters' 'Chasing Light' briefly knocked '21' off the top spot, before it returned for another five weeks at the chart summit.
It's sold over 31 million copies globally, and in 2018 was revealed to be the second best-selling studio album ever in the UK (behind only The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper). It also picked up six Grammys in 2012, including Album of the Year, and includes Adele's first UK No.1 single 'Someone Like You', which she memorably performed at the 2011 BRIT Awards.
Not bad for the usually difficult second album...
From 11 to 40
11) Lady Gaga - The Fame
12) Kings of Leon - Only By The Night
13) Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head
14) Michael Buble - Christmas
15) Dido - Life For Rent
16) Take That - Beautiful World
17) Keane - Hopes and Fears
18) Coldplay - X&Y
19) Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
20) Coldplay - Parachutes
21) Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
22) Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
23) Sam Smith - In The Lonely Hour
24) Ed Sheeran +
25) Snow Patrol - Eyes Open
26) Adele - 19
27) Emeli Sande - Our Version Of Events
28) Robbie Williams - Swing When You're Winning
29) Take That - Progress
30) The Killers - Hot Fuss
31) Green Day - American Idiot
32) Take That - The Circus
33) Duffy - Rockferry
34) Robbie Williams - Sing When You're Winning
35) Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way
36) Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane
37) Robbie Williams - Escapology
38) Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
39) Motion Picture Cast Recording - The Greatest Showman
40) Rihanna - Loud