Americans don’t buy albums like they used to, and every year the number of copies sold drops considerably…at least that’s what the trend looked like for a long time. Now, things have turned around, thanks in large part to the ongoing vinyl craze, and for the first time since MRC Data (formerly Nielsen) began tracking purchases decades ago, vinyl is performing better than CDs are.
In the first half of 2021, sales of full-lengths on any physical format, be it CD, vinyl or cassette (which is also making a comeback as a medium) grew by more than 37%. That upward surge will likely continue, and a number of popular acts have been able to capitalize on the reversal of fortune, landing some of the bestselling titles in quite some time.
Taylor Swift scores the No. 1 bestselling album on physical formats halfway through 2021 according to MRC Data’s midyear report, and that one win only details part of her success this time around. As the singer-songwriter’s Evermore easily outpaces every other effort, selling 320,000 copies in just the past six months (it’s the only release to hit 200,000 sales or more so far this year), the Grammy winner claims another two spots on the tally. Down at No. 4 is her most recent project Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which sold 147,000 copies, while Folklore isn’t far behind at No. 5 with 136,000 copies sold.
Carrie Underwood’s first proper Christian album My Saviour comes in a distant second place behind Evermore, with 160,000 copies sold on a physical medium. Harry Styles’ Fine Line, his sophomore set, is close behind at No. 3 with 152,000 copies purchased, with all but a little more than 20,000 being vinyl sales.
Aside from Swift, BTS is the only name to chart more than one of the 10 bestselling physical albums in America in 2021, as their two No. 1 sets from 2020, Be and Map of the Soul: 7, settle at Nos. 6 and 10 with 125,000 and 105,000 copies sold, respectively.
The oldest title on the 10-rung list is Queen’s Greatest Hits compilation, which still remains incredibly popular to this day, even though it’s been available to buy for 40 years. The lengthy release has somehow managed to sell an additional 112,000 copies in 2021 alone, which is a truly stupefying showing for the band.
The two remaining spaces unaccounted for are filled by South Korean boy group NCT, whose Resonance, Pt. 1 appears at No. 8 and Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album at No. 9. Both albums have sold 106,000 copies this year, though MRC Data likely rounds the figures, as they don’t appear to be tied on the list.
Here are the top 10 bestselling physical albums in the U.S. in the first half of 2021.
No. 1 – Taylor Swift – Evermore – 320,000
No. 2 – Carrie Underwood – My Savior – 160,000
No. 3 – Harry Styles – Fine Line – 152,000
No. 4 – Taylor Swift – Fearless (Taylor’s Version) – 147,000
No. 5 – Taylor Swift – Folklore – 136,000
No. 6 – BTS – Be – 125,000
No. 7 – Queen – Greatest Hits – 112,000
No. 8 – NCT – Resonance, Pt. 1 – 106,000
No. 9 – Morgan Wallen – Dangerous: The Double Album – 106,000
No. 10 – BTS – Map of the Soul: 7 – 105,000