On Wednesday (March 2), America fell in step with the rest of the record-buying world when it was announced that Adele's jaw-dropping sophomore album, 21, would debut at #1 on the Billboard albums chart, selling nearly 352,000 copies and easily outpacing Justin Bieber for the top spot.

Of course, a U.S. #1 was just the latest accomplishment for the 22-year-old Brit, who also saw the album top the charts in the U.K. (and most of Europe too), but as she told MTV News recently, she values Stateside success in a way we probably can't begin to comprehend.

"Oh, it's magical being here. I didn't think I'd ever release a record here," she said. "It's a big deal in England. There's a massive thing, like, 'Did you crack America?!?' The biggest acts in England, no one has any idea who they are here.

"For people to [buy my albums in the U.S.] is amazing," she continued. "And America is so big, and there are so many ... there's, like, five other artists that do what I do, better than I do, and in England, there's like two of you. So it's so much harder to get your foot in the door, so when you do get your foot in the door here and want people to see you, it's like, 'What?' "

A chart-topping bow here in the States is even more gratifying considering the fact that not only did Adele record most of 21 here, but she steeped her songs in a wide spectrum of American influences — everything from country and R&B to the lithe wordplay of rappers like Kanye West, Mos Def and Nas. Not to mention the fact that, unlike back home in the U.K., Adele is largely left alone by the pesky paparazzi. Though, given her recent success, we suspect all of that might change.

"The tabloids really don't care here. I got [photographed by the] paparazzi for the first time in New York this morning, and that's never happened, not even when I was straight off the Grammys," she laughed. "Whenever I'm in New York, I'm left alone. ... It's been very slow here so far."

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