Big-selling albums by Adele, Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga helped push pop sales in the United Kingdom to their highest level in over a decade, according to figures released by British labels body the BPI and the Official Charts Company (OCC) .
Adele's all-conquering sophomore set "21" (XL Recordings) was the biggest-selling album of last year, moving 3.8 million units in the U.K. The British artist - who recently confirmed that she is to perform at his year's BRIT Awards, held in London on Feb. 21 - is far from alone in boosting the genre's popularity, however. In total, pop releases accounted for seven of 2011's Top 10 selling albums, propelling the genre's market share from 30.9% in 2010 to 33.6% last year - its highest level since 1999, according to the OCC.
In addition to Adele, who also scored the No.4 best-selling album with her debut studio set "19" (XL Recordings, 1.2 million units sold), the year's biggest-selling pop releases were Bruno Mars' "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" (Elektra/Atlantic/Warner Music, 1.2 million units), Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" (Interscope, Universal, 820,000 units), Jessie J's "Who You Are" (Lava/ Universal Island, 805,000 units) and "+" by four-time BRIT Award nominee Ed Sheeran (Asylum/Atlantic/Warner Music, 790,000 units).
In contrast, rock's album share fell below 30% for the first time since 2003, dropping from 31.2% to 29.4% year-on-year. The only rock albums to feature in the OCC's year-end Top 20 were Coldplay's "Mylo Xyloto" (Parlophone/EMI) with 900,000 sales and "Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds" (Sour Mash, 490,000 sales). The popularity of rock in the singles market  was also outgunned 2-1 by pop releases. Pop's market share of singles fell slightly in 2011, dropping from 38.3% to 36.0% year-on-year, but remained way ahead of rock, which had an 18% share of the market.
R&B was the third most popular genre with British consumers in 2011, accounting for a 10.1% share of the albums market (down from 10.4% year-on-year) and 17.2 % of the singles market (down from 18% year-on-year). Folk, meanwhile, saw a slight rise in album sales with records by BRIT Award winner Laura Marling among the commercial hits that helped the genre claim its largest market share this century, accounting for 1.6% of all U.K. album sales, up from 1.3% the year previous.
MOR/Easy Listening accounted for 7.9% of albums sales (up from 7.5% in 2010) with Michael Buble's "Christmas" (Reprise/Warner Music) behind Adele as the second-highest selling album of the year with 1.3 million units. Buble's last album "Crazy Love" (Reprise/Warner Music) was the 20th biggest-seller of 2011 moving 410,000 units.
"2011 was a vintage year for Pop albums so it is hardly surprising that the genre has elbowed Rock aside as the nation's favorite," said BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor in a statement.
"Pop has managed to double its share of singles sales in the space of five years and now outsells Rock by two-to-one. It's no coincidence that over the same period dozens of vibrant, digital music services have launched in Britain, enabling younger music fans to buy and enjoy tracks online at pocket money prices," Taylor went on to say.