Adele's sophomore disc, 21, isn't just the best-selling disc of the year -- it's the biggest chart-topper to impact the pop world in the past seven years, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
The English singer-songwriter's soulful hits "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You" helped the LP, released by independent British label XL Recordings, sell 5.7 million copies stateside.
The last time an album topped the year-end chart with more than 5 million units sold was in 2004, when Usher's Grammy-winning Confessions moved 7.9 million. The album's 13 weeks at the chart summit is the longest No. 1 stretch since the Titanic soundtrack's 16-week ride in 1998.
"Someone Like You" is the first vocal/piano-only ballad to reach No. 1 in Billboard history.
Up for six Grammys, Adele is favored to win the triple crown of best album, song and record.
"Adele's performance this year shows the demand for great original music," says Nielsen analyst David Bakula. "Here's an artist that had moderate success before, but nothing of this magnitude, and she's doing it all on two singles."
Amy Winehouse's death from alcohol poisoning in July also factored into Adele's stellar chart performance. Winehouse's death revived fan interest in other British singers inspired by American jazz vocalists -- like Duffy and Adele, Bakula explains.
Still, Adele's sales total less than half of the more than 11 million copies that 'N Sync's No Strings Attached sold in 2000.
Meanwhile, the powerhouse is back in action after taking off the second half of 2011 to undergo throat surgery.
In November, Adele, 23, checked into a Boston medical center to undergo surgery to stop bleeding in her vocal cords. A benign polyp was at the root of the singer's near vocal paralysis and the music world freaked that she might never get her famous voice back.
Adele's expected to make a full recovery, though, with an insider telling Us magazine she is "in a great place at the moment… She recently started some basic vocal training, [but] she's taking it slowly."
"She has time off in her schedule for much of the first quarter of 2012. Depending on how her voice builds back up, [she might go] to this medical vocal academy in Seoul. It sounds extreme, but she wouldn't be the first artist to go there after removing polyps," the tattle added.
"She wants to keep a low profile," said the source.
"She's hoping the first half of next year can be pretty low-key -- no concerts, TV shows, magazine interviews, music or anything like that. As she puts it, she wants to just take it easy and enjoy a well deserved break, with no pressure to record or perform."
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