Adele's '25' Debuts at No. 1 on Billboard 200 Albums Chart, '21' Returns to Top 10

Alasdair McLellan
Adele photographed in 2015.

As earlier reported, Adele’s 25 album makes a truly historic debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The set -- released on Nov. 20 through XL/Columbia Records -- earned 3.48 million equivalent album units in the week ending Nov. 26, according to Nielsen Music. Of that figure, 3.38 million were in pure album sales ­-- the single largest sales week for an album since Nielsen began tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991.

The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new Dec. 12-dated chart (where Adele is No. 1) will be posted in full to Billboard’s websites on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

It almost goes without saying that 25’s equivalent album unit figure of 3.48 million is also the largest registered since the chart began tracking weekly popularity based on overall units in December of 2014. (A week ago, Justin Bieber set the former record of 649,000 units, when his Purpose album debuted at No. 1.)

25’s overall equivalent unit figure is comprised mostly of pure album sales, along with 96,000 in track equivalent album units, and another 8,000 in streaming equivalent album units. (All of 25’s streaming units come from streams of the single “Hello,” as it is the only song from the album available on streaming services.)

25 is Adele’s second No. 1 album, and follows the chart-topping 21, which returns to the top 10 for the first time in nearly two-and-a-half years, and to its highest rank in over three. It climbs 25-9 with 46,000 units (up 125 percent) and 34,000 in pure album sales (up 163 percent). 21 was last in the top 10 on the March 16, 2013-dated list, when it ranked at No. 10. It last ranked at No. 9 on the Nov. 3, 2012 chart.

21 has now spent 82 nonconsecutive weeks in the top 10. It was recently named the No. 1 all-time album on the Billboard 200 chart.

21 previously spent 24 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on the chart -- the most weeks atop the list for an album by a woman in history. 21 is also the tenth-largest selling album of the Nielsen era, with 11.2 million sold.

It’s been more than a year since an artist last had two concurrent top 10 albums, when Prince debuted two titles in the region on the Oct. 18, 2014-dated list (Art Official Age at No. 5 and Plectrumelectrum at No. 8). Before that, Led Zeppelin did it (with three albums) on June 21, 2014 when reissues of Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III reentered the list at Nos. 7, 9 and 10, respectively.

If we exclude instances where an act debuted two new albums or returned to the chart with newly reissued product, then we have to scroll back to March 17, 2012, when both Adele and Whitney Houston (in the wake of her death) each had multiple titles in the top 10. That week, Adele was Nos. 1 and 7 with 21 and 19, while Houston was Nos. 2, 5 and 10 with Whitney: The Greatest Hits, The Bodyguard soundtrack and her self-titled album.

The Adele party continues at No. 20 on the latest Billboard 200, where her first album, 19, rises 35 spots with 27,000 units (up 208 percent) and 20,000 in pure album sales (up 252 percent).

The last act to earn three simultaneous top 20-charting sets was Led Zeppelin on the Aug. 22-dated list, when its reissues of In Through the Out Door, Coda and Presence reentered the list at Nos. 9, 12 and 13, respectively. Barring reissue scenarios, the last act to tally three concurrent top 20 albums was Zac Brown Band on July 28, 2012. That week, the group’s Uncaged debuted at No. 1, while You Get What You Give rose 51-16 and The Foundation climbed 73-19.

Back on this week’s Billboard 200, Justin Bieber’s Purpose slips from No. 1 to No. 2 in its second week with 290,000 units (down 55 percent). It sold 184,000 in traditional album sales (down 65 percent).

One Direction’s Made In the A.M. falls from No. 2 to No. 3 with 108,000 units (down 76 percent) and 77,000 in album sales (down 81 percent).

Rapper Jadakiss tallies the second-highest debut of the week, as his Top 5 Dead Or Alive -- his first studio album in more that six years -- enters at No. 4 with 66,000 units (with 60,000 of that in pure album sales). It’s his fourth top 10 album, following The Last Kiss (No. 3 in 2009), Kiss of Death (No. 1 in 2004) and Kiss Tha Game Goodbye (No. 5 in 2001).

The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness climbs 8-5 with 65,000 units (up 48 percent), Pentatonix’s That’s Christmas To Me jumps 13-6 with 61,000 units (up 93 percent) and Chris Stapleton’s Traveller descends 6-7 with 58,000 units (though it is up 9 percent).

Enya returns to the top 10 for the first time in seven years as her new album Dark Sky Island debuts at No. 8 (48,000 units; 46,000 in pure album sales). The set is her first collection of new recordings since the holiday effort And Winter Came… debuted and peaked at No. 8 on the Nov. 29, 2008-dated list. Before that, she visited the top 10 with Amarantine (No. 6 in 2005), A Day Without Rain (No. 2 in 2001) and The Memory of Trees (No. 9 in 1996).

Rounding out the top 10 is Fetty Wap’s self-titled album, which climbs 11-10 with 38,000 units (up 15 percent).