Despite late charges from Susan Boyle and Taylor Swift, Eminem came out on top in the year-end Nielsen SoundScan album-sales tally. According to figures compiled by Billboard magazine, the rapper’s return-to-form CD, Recovery, led all new releases in 2010 with sales of 3.4 million copies, followed by Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now (3.1 million), Swift’s Speak Now (3 million), Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0 (2.3 million) and Boyle’s The Gift (1.85 million).
The rest of the top-selling albums included Lady Gaga’s still-moving debut, The Fame, which sold another 1.5 million copies last year, followed by Sade’s Soldier of Love (1.3 million), Drake’s Thank Me Later (1.2 million), Usher’s Raymond v. Raymond (1.18 million) and Ke$ha’s Animal (1.1 million).
Recovery was also the #1 digital album, thanks to sales of 852,000 copies.
A combination of her still briskly selling back catalog and her new hit album made Swift the year’s overall top-selling artist, with more than 4.4 million units shifted, followed by Slim Shady (4.3 million), Lady Antebellum (3.8 million), Bieber (3.7 million) and the cast of “Glee” (3.6 million).
Katy Perry was the queen of the digital-songs tally, racking up nearly 4.4 million downloads for her hit collabo with Snoop Dogg, “California Gurls.” Just behind was Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” (4.3 million), Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie” (4.2 million), Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” (4 million) and B.o.B and Hayley Williams’ “Airplanes” (4 million).
Albums sales continued their nearly decade-long slide, dropping another 12.8 percent to 326.2 million units as sales of CDs fell by almost 20 percent for the fourth year in a row. But individual digital track sales saw a slight 1 percent increase last year to 1.17 billion, and digital album sales grew by 13 percent to 86.3 million, meaning they accounted for more than 26 percent of all U.S. album sales in 2010.
And, in one of those stories it feels like you hear every year, vinyl was big in 2010 as well, with the vintage category growing by 13 percent. That uptick was fueled largely by the Beatles’ Abbey Road, which sold 35,000 copies, followed by the Arcade Fire’s Suburbs (18,000), the Black Keys’ Brothers (18,000), Vampire Weekend’s Contra (15,000) and Michael Jackson’s Thriller (14,000).