Sorry, *NSYNC fans: Adele's new album 25 is going to sell more copies in the US in its first week than any other album in modern history. According to Billboard and Nielsen Music, the British superstar's first album in nearly half a decade has sold at least 2.3 million American copies since being released on Friday, a staggering total that dwarfs the sales of every other album released this year. Before 25 was released, Justin Bieber's comeback effort Purpose had the highest-selling debut week of 2015; it sold 522,000 copies and 649,000 equivalent album units. That's chump change to Adele.
25 is already only the second album to sell over 2 million domestic copies in a single week since Nielsen began accurately tracking sales in 1991. The only other album to cross that line is *NSYNC's No Strings Attached, which sold 2,416,000 at the music industry's peak in 2000. Because there are three full days left in Nielsen's tracking week, 25 is going to smash No Strings Attached's record barring some unforeseen catastrophe.
Billboard notes that industry prognosticators are predicting an ultimate first-week total of 2.9 million copies for 25. That's a jaw-dropping number on its own, and the number's subject to change with the album's momentum. If Adele's latest really does end up at 2.9 million, it'll fall just short of the record for most copies sold in a single country in a single week. That arcane title is currently held by Japanese singer Hikaru Utada, who sold just over 3 million copies of her album Distance in Japan in 2001.
25 is already entering rarefied air
Adele's going to shatter some records and just miss others, but any discussion about the album's sales totals this week ends up at the same conclusion: no album has managed to grab the attention and market share 25 is grabbing in at least a decade. It's entering rarefied air, and once the final numbers are settled we can move on to an even more interesting topic: what does this have to do with her decision to leave streaming services high and dry?