NASHVILLE -- Turns out Adele ruled 2012, too -- and set a record while she was at it.
The British singer's 21 was the highest-selling album in the U.S. for the second consecutive year, according to 2012 sales figures released by Nielsen SoundScan on Thursday. That's a first in the SoundScan era.
Adele sold 4.4 million copies of the album in 2012 after selling 5.8 million in 2011. She crossed the 10 million threshold in November and was only rivalled by Taylor Swift, whose Red was second on the list. If her album sales continue apace in 2013, 21 will move into the top 10 list for sales since 1993, when SoundScan began current tracking methods.
Gotye scored the year's top-selling song with Somebody That I Used To Know featuring Kimbra. The song was downloaded a record 6.8 million times. Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe was next at 6.5 million. Both songs are the first to cross the six million digital sales mark, while fun. came close with 5.9 million downloads of We Are Young featuring Janelle Monae.
Forty-one songs crossed the two million download mark, helping drive digital and overall sales to a new high even as album sales began to drop again after a momentary gain.
A record 1.65 billion music units -- combining physical albums, digital albums and digital songs -- were sold in 2012, fuelled by an increase of 9.1 per cent in total digital sales and a 14.1 per cent increase in digital album sales.
Overall, however, album sales declined 4.4 per cent. That continues a downward trend since 2004 that was only briefly halted by last year's three per cent gain -- mostly due to the surprise success of 21.
-- The Associated Press