For the first time, a woman earns three of Billboard's biggest year-end honors: No. 1 on Top Artists, No. 1 on Top Billboard 200 Titles and No. 1 on Hot 100 Songs.
The woman, of course, is Adele. The album: 21. The song: "Rolling in the Deep" (both on XL/Columbia).
Since Billboard added the top overall artist category to its year-end recaps in 1981, no woman has ever pulled off the triple crown win until this year.
Billboard's year-end music recaps are based on chart performance during the chart year that began with last year's Dec. 4 issue and ended with the Nov. 26, 2011, issue.
The Top Artists recap ranks the best-performing acts of the year derived from activity on the Billboard 200 albums tally and the Billboard Hot 100 singles list, as well as streaming, social, boxscore and ringtone data.
Previous to 2011, there were only four years where one artist swept the top three pop categories. In 2004, Usher did it with his album Confessions and single "Yeah!" (featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris). The previous year, 50 Cent managed the feat with the album Get Rich or Die Tryin' and lead single "In Da Club."
Only one other man, George Michael, claimed the top trio of accolades, with his Faith album and title track in 1988. Ace of Base is the lone group to achieve all three, with its album The Sign and title cut in 1994.
Aside from Adele, the only time a woman has earned the No. 1 titles on both the year-end Billboard 200 and Hot 100 recaps was in 1993. That year, Whitney Houston reigned with the soundtrack to "The Bodyguard" and the ubiquitous "I Will Always Love You" single.
Adele simply took over Billboard's charts in 2011, storming both the Billboard 200 and Hot 100. Her 21 album, released Feb. 22, debuted at No. 1 on the former tally and has spent 13 nonconsecutive weeks atop the list. Two of its singles, "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You," spent seven and five weeks at No. 1, respectively, on the Hot 100.
While 21 could certainly return to No. 1, its 13 weeks in the penthouse mark the most weeks atop the list since the soundtrack to "Titanic" spent 16 weeks at No. 1 in 1998.
Adele's triumph as the top artist of 2011 also rewrites a bit of history: This is the third year in a row where a woman takes home the honors. That's the longest women have ruled the Top Artists chart. Adele follows Lady Gaga (2010) and Taylor Swift (2009).
Also in 2011, for the first time, all four of the top artists on the year-end recap are solo female acts. Following Adele at No. 1 are Rihanna, Katy Perry and last year's champ, Lady Gaga, at Nos. 2-4, respectively. Truly, it was the year of the woman on Billboard's pop charts.
While women rule Top Artists, the top-ranked male is Lil Wayne, who comes in at No. 5 and is the top male artist. His album Tha Carter IV (Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Republic) ranks at No. 6 on the Top Billboard 200 Titles recap, while he also places six titles on the Hot 100 Songs recap (Nos. 21, 23, 41, 47, 53 and 95).
Also on the Hot 100 Songs chart, below Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" at No. 1 is LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" (Party Rock/Will.i.am/Cherrytree/Interscope), featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock, at No. 2. It was LMFAO's first top 10 single, and it spent six weeks at No. 1 during the summer.
Behind LMFAO at Nos. 3 and 4 are two former No. 1 singles from Katy Perry: "Firework" and "E.T." (featuring Kanye West), both on Capitol. The monopolization of the top four on the Hot 100 Songs year-end recap has been a familiar theme in recent years. In 2009, Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas controlled the top four, each placing a pair of singles within the region.
The Peas rank at No. 11 on Top Artists-marking the first time there hasn't been a duo or group among the top 10 artists of the year in the 30 years Billboard has been compiling the overall top artist category.
With the addition of streaming, social, boxscore and ringtone data to the formula that's used to compile the Top Artists recap, a curious entry lands on the Top Artists-Duo/Group chart. At No. 9 is Take That, the British vocal group that reunited for a mammoth sold-out tour of Europe this year. The band's achievement on the recap is notable because it hasn't released an album or single in the United States-nor landed on any Billboard chart-since 1996.