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Album sales up for the first time since 2004

U.S. album sales rose more than 3 percent last year for the first gain since 2004 — a sign that rising digital sales are finally stemming the decade-long decline of compact discs. The uptick to 458 million album sales was helped by the hugely popular sophomore album 21 from British singer Adele, which sold 5.8 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Huge interest in Adele also led to the sales of 856,000 copies of 19, her debut album from 2008. READ FULL STORY

The 10 top music-video directors of 2011: Watch their best clips here

Looking back at the best music videos of 2011, one thing leaped out: All of the best clips were made by the same six or seven people.

So rather than call out individual entries for their greatness, we’re going to reward the directors who put together the best portfolios this year. Anybody can make one excellent video, but it takes serious jiujitsu to knock out three great ones. That left a lot of awesome videos on the table (all apologies to excellent entries like Foo Fighters’ “Walk,” Beyoncé’s “Countdown,” and Ke$ha’s “Blow”), but this is a pretty good sum-up of the year in music videos.

1) Spike Jonze
Jonze only stood behind the camera for two videos this year, but they were both game-changers. Beastie Boys’ “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” was a sandbox revelation that was way better than the actual feature film based on GI Joe, while Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Otis” turned that pair’s obsession with commercialism into a bombastic brand of Americana. Pour one out for the fallen Maybach, and raise your glass to Jonze, who proved that no amount of directing polarizing adaptations of beloved books for children can take away his four-minute spark. READ FULL STORY

Album Sales: Michael Buble tops the chart (again), and Adele logs her best sales week yet

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Michael Bublé’s Christmas has only been in stores for nine weeks, but it’s had no trouble becoming the 2nd highest-selling album of 2011, behind Adele’s 21.

This week, Bublé topped the Billboard 200 for a fifth straight week, selling 467,000 copies and lifting his holiday collection’s total to a very merry 2.43 million (all five of Michael Bublé’s albums have topped the 2 million mark). Expect a hefty drop next week, though, now that Christmas Day has passed.

In second place, Adele’s 21 notched its best-ever sales week (in its 45th week of release!), moving 399,000 units. The album’s previous best week came with its debut in February, when 21 sold 352,000. This year, 21 has sold an astonishing 5.68 million Stateside, and on top of reclaiming the No. 1 spot next week, the album should pass the 6 million mark early in the new year. READ FULL STORY

Adele, Florence and The Machine, Bon Iver, or Fleet Foxes: Who made EW's album of the year?

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There are only a handful of days left in 2011, which means it’s time to sum up the year that was in various cultural formats.

Entertainment Weekly‘s Best and Worst of 2011 issue hits newsstands today, and inside you’ll find music critic Melissa Maerz’s list of the 10 greatest albums of the year, along with our staff’s picks for the 10 best singles, the five worst, our favorite soundbites, and a look at some key breakout performances. It’s a good way to reflect, look back on the previous 12 months, and remember, “Oh yeah, Limp Bizkit did put an album out–and it was terrible!”

The most important question, of course, is who scored the coveted number-one spot? The debate among the music aficionados here at EW was fierce, but it ultimately came down to a quartet of sophomore albums: Adele’s 21, Florence + the Machine’s Ceremonials, Bon Iver’s Bon Iver, and Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues. Check out the video below for the arguments made for each of these stellar releases. READ FULL STORY

Michael Buble continues to dominate; The Black Keys enter at No. 2 -- this week in charts

In its seventh week, Michael Bublé’s Christmas continued to utterly dominate the Billboard 200, increasing by 64 percent to 479,000 copies, topping the chart for a third straight week and lifting its U.S. total to a whopping 1,517,000.

Whether the crooner’s compilation was boosted by Bublé’s recent NBC special or the fact that people are just becoming more eager to hear Christmas music is unclear. What is certain, though, is that Bublé will finish 2011 with one of the best-selling albums of the year — in only two months’ time.

Josh Groban achieved a similar feat in 2007, when his holiday compilation Noël moved 3.6 million copies in eleven weeks, and became the best-selling title of all of 2007. Susan Boyle’s debut I Dreamed a Dream was only on the chart for the last six weeks of 2009, but it sold 3.1 million copies, enough to become the second-biggest album in the U.S. that year (behind Taylor Swift’s Fearless). The holidays can be major boon for gift-ready albums like Bublé’s.

In second place, garage-rock wunderkinds the Black Keys avoided any sophomore slump (alright, technically this is their seventh album, but it’s their second record since they broke into the mainstream in 2010) with El Camino, which shifted 206,000 discs in its first week. That number marks the duo’s best sales week by far, trumping the 73,000 debut of their last album Brothers.

Adele and Justin Bieber fill out the third and fourth place slots, respectively. Adele’s 21 experienced a nice 30 percent boost to 187,000, which officially pushed the British songstress’ collection past the 5 million mark. According to Yahoo’s Paul Grein, this is the first time an album has sold 5 million copies in one calendar year since Usher’s Confessions in 2004.  Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe ticked up 19 percent to 153,000, bringing its total to 824,000. It could pass the platinum threshold next week.

Rounding out the top 5, Amy Winehouse’s posthumous release Lioness: Hidden Treasures started in fifth place, selling 114,000 copies. While far from Michael Jackson sales levels, that figure did beat out other debuts like Glee, the Music: Season 3, Volume 7 (No. 9, 58,000) and Korn’s The Path of Totality (No. 10, 55,000), as well as the Roots’ undun (no. 17) and Robin Thicke’s Love and War (No. 22).

Check out the top 10 below: READ FULL STORY

Adele says fans may have to wait a while for her next record

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When Entertainment Weekly visited with Adele last spring, the singer said that she couldn’t wait to get back into the studio and record the follow-up to her hugely successful 21.

“I need to write my record,” explained the British chanteuse. “[My heart] is already broke. That’s why I need to write the record.” But Adele seems to have changed her tune about recording new tunes.

In a new email interview with Billboard, the 23 year old, who is currently recovering from throat surgery, makes clear that she is now in no hurry to return to the studio: “I imagine I’ll be 25 or 26 by the time my next record comes out, as I haven’t even thought about my third record yet. I’m just gonna lay some concrete, set up home and just ‘be’ for a bit. I’ll disappear and come back with a record when it’s good enough. There will be no new music until it’s good enough and until I’m ready.” READ FULL STORY

Adele or Faux-dele? Watch the singer's doppelganger in new 'Set Fire to the Rain' video

Adele better hurry up and release the official video for her third single off 21, because it looks like she’s got some (scarily similar) competition.

In this decidely non-official video for the soul star’s upcoming official third single “Set Fire to the Rain,” the song is reimagined as a love triangle between a woman, her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s lover, who appears to be stealing him away with some modern dance. Watch the clip, intercut with moody, hidden-in-the-shadows shots of Adele (or “Adele”), below:

READ FULL STORY

Because she ruled everything else this year: Adele is now tweeting!

Though you cannot technically set fire to the rain, you can light up the internet. Temporarily silenced Adele is now Tweeting @officialadele.

The handle has been in use for a while — with her production company giving admirers updates, such as her recent six Grammy nominations. Up until now, however, Adele herself has been mum. But it seems even the “Someone Like You” star can’t resist the lure of hashtags and retweets.

Yesterday she made her debut, writing, “Right! Its me! I will start tweeting if 10k of u start following @drop4drop &their trip to India this wk. Its a wonderful charity. Go! A xxx”

Naturally, Adelaholics immediately rose to the challenge, hoping to hear more from the 21 songstress.

The cheeky gal (seriously, check out her blog) seems to be holding  up well after her vocal cord surgery. After rabid fan response to her first tweet, she shared a photo, posing in front of a Beyoncé poster, saying, “”F*ck me that was quick! ThankU! I’m in bed, watchin Gladiator, eatin an apple. Here’s a pic of me & Queen B last wk in NYC! X.”

Donning her best fierce face and pretending to be Bey? Stars! They’re just like us.

Readers: Who are your favorite singers to follow on Twitter?

Read more:
Adele’s ’21’ now officially the best-selling UK album of the 21st century
Adele invites fans to see ‘Royal Albert Hall’ DVD for free, drops awesome trailer: Watch it here 
Adele undergoes throat surgery in Boston; spokesman says a ‘full recovery’ is expected

Adele's '21' now officially the best-selling UK album of the 21st century

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Adele is still recovering from throat surgery, but that hasn’t stopped 21 from continuing its tear through the record books.

After picking up a half dozen Grammy nominations last week, 21 also officially became the best-selling album in the UK in the 21st century. In doing so, it eclipsed Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, which has shifted 3.3 million copies since its release in 2006. 21, meanwhile, has moved 3.4 million copies in less than a year, a pretty remarkable feat in the current music-business climate.

What’s even more amazing is the number of high-profile homegrown acts who have released albums in the UK in the past 11 years who still haven’t sold as many albums as Adele. Considering the length of time the albums have been out, and the stature of the artists involved, you would think that U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind, Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head, or Radiohead’s Kid A would be contenders for the sales crown. In fact, the only other album from the 21st century that has put up Adele- and Winehouse-sized numbers is James Blunt’s 2004 debut Back to Bedlam (which was notable for its inclusion of “You’re Beautiful,” easily one of the most polarizing radio hits of the modern era).

If she can keep up the same kind of momentum, Adele could find herself in striking distance of some all-time sales figures in her homeland. She’s right behind the biggest-selling albums of all time there, which include Queen’s Greatest Hits, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Oasis’ (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory, and ABBA’s ABBA Gold. That’s some pretty rare company, and it’s incredible to think that those albums have had decades to accumulate the kinds of numbers Adele has done in less than twelve months.

Are you surprised at Adele’s dominance, or is it merely one more clear victory for the critical and commercial behemoth that is 21? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and tell us: What’s your favorite British album of the 21st century? I’m partial to Jarvis Cocker’s debut solo album, but that’s because I’m kind of weird.

Read more on EW.com:
Grammy Nominations: Snubs and Surprises
Adele, Maroon 5, and (yes) Miley Cyrus pay tribute to Bob Dylan on new album
Adele invites fans to see ‘Royal Albert Hall’ DVD for free, drops awesome trailer: Watch it here!

TV Jukebox: 'Ringer,' 'Hell on Wheels' feature our favorite songs on TV this week

TV Jukebox is back, music fans! What better way to emerge from last week’s tryptophan coma and kick off December than with a roster of rousing numbers? This week’s stand-out “show tunes” got our blood pumping during a shoot-‘em-up sequence from Sons of Anarchy, a Ringer revelation, and a delightfully kooky Rocky IV reference on New Girl — and that’s just the start. See our picks below! (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS follow!) READ FULL STORY

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