The sweet sounds of pop music are in control as we take a look at the top selling albums and songs at the mid-year point of 2011.
Of the top 20 selling albums -- half of them are pop sets. Leading the pop charge, and the year overall, is Adele's "21" with 2.52 million sold this year. Pure pop/dance act Lady Gaga is in second place with her "Born This Way" album. It has sold 1.54 million.
Comparably, a year ago, there were eight pop albums among the year-to-date top 20, with Justin Bieber's "My World 2.0" the highest-ranked (No. 2 with 1.39 million).
Dial back the clock five years ago, to 2006, and pop music was clearly in trouble in the album market.
There were only three pop albums among the year-to-date top 20 that year: "High School Musical" (No. 1), Barry Manilow's "Greatest Songs of the Fifties" (No. 17) and Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" (No. 18). Notably, of those, only one Clarkson's garnered any sort of widespread support on mainstream top 40 radio.
But let's get back to 2011.
The highest-ranking non-pop set this year is Mumford & Sons' rock set "Sigh No More," which is the year's third biggest-selling album (982,000). It which spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Rock Albums chart and has so far topped out at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
Right behind Mumford is the year's biggest country release, Jason Aldean's "My Kinda Party," with 763,000 sold. A solo male country artist hasn't ranked this high mid-way through the year since Kenny Chesney's "When the Sun Goes Down" was the No. 3 best-seller halfway through 2004.
Aldean is one of just three country albums among the top 20 this year: Taylor Swift's "Speak Now" is No. 13 (563,000) and Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" is No. 19 (473,000).
The flag-bearer for R&B albums in 2011 is Chris Brown's "F.A.M.E." at No. 7 (646,000). As for the rest of the R&B sets in the top 20: two steps behind him is Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday" (No. 9; 609,000), then Rihanna's "Loud" (No. 11; 598,000), Eminem's "Recovery" (No. 16; 517,000) and Wiz Khalifa's "Rolling Papers" (No. 18; 484,000).
TOP DIGITAL SONGS
Looking at the top selling digital songs, a full 14 of the top 20 this year are pop tunes, while the remaining six are R&B/hip-hop. Pop siren Katy Perry's "E.T." (featuring Kanye West), is tops, having sold 4.12 million. The highest-ranked R&B title is Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" (featuring Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes) at No. 8 (2.44 million).
The dominance of pop among song buyers isn't that surprising -- a year ago at this time 11 of the top 20 songs were pop as well. The genre dominates the digital song market: 25% of all songs sold this year were pop. (The next closest genre, in terms of market share, is rock, with 23%.)
This year, not a single rock or country song is among the top 20 sellers -- a shift from this point in 2010, when the region hosted one rocker (Train's "Hey, Soul Sister," which was No. 1), a country tune (Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now," No. 4) and seven R&B/hip-hip hits.
Female-led tracks comprise nine of the top 20 so far this year, with Perry holding down two spots on the tally -- and both in the top 10. While "E.T" is at No. 1, her former No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Firework" is the tenth-best seller, with 2.28 million. Further demonstrating the pop power of women: a full five out of the top six are by female singers. Perry's "Firework" at No. 10 gives women six out of the top 10 sellers.
Last year, there were seven female-led tunes in the top 20, with the highest-ranked being Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" at No. 6 with 2.53 million. Just two titles in the top 10 were female-led: "Tik Tok" and Katy Perry's "California Gurls" (featuring Snoop Dogg) at No. 8 (2.39 million).