Plus: Total album consumption grows 11% in U.S., album sales increase for the first time in a decade, vinyl sales outpace CD sales for the first time in modern era & on-demand streaming increases 10%.
Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album rounds out 2021 as the most popular album of the year in the U.S., according to MRC Data. Meanwhile, Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” was the most-streamed song and most-heard song on the radio.
Dangerous: The Double Album is Wallen’s second full-length studio album and was released on Jan. 8, 2021. It finishes the year with 3.226 million equivalent album units earned in the U.S. Most of that sum was driven by streaming activity of the set’s sprawling 30-song tracklist. Dangerous is the first country music release to be MRC Data’s year-end top album since 2009, when Taylor Swift’s Fearless was the champ
2021 also marks the sixth straight year a solo male has MRC Data’s top album, following Lil Baby’s My Turn (2020), Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding (2019), Drake’s Scorpion (2018), Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Divide) (2017) and Drake’s Views (2016). The last time an album not by a solo male was tops for the year was in 2015, when Adele’s 25 ruled.
MRC Data’s 2021 tracking year ran from Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 30, 2021.
Equivalent album units – for album titles and chart rankings cited below (but not industry volume numbers) – comprise traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Each unit equals one album sale, or 10 individual tracks sold from an album, or 3,750 ad-supported on-demand official audio and video streams generated by songs from an album, or 1,250 paid/subscription on-demand official audio and video streams generated by songs from an album. Album titles and album chart rankings by equivalent album units do not include UGC (user-generated content) streams, but UGC streams are included in MRC Data’s industry volume numbers. (UGC streams are not factored into any of Billboard’s weekly charts.)
For the sake of clarity, equivalent album units do not include listening to music on broadcast radio or digital radio broadcasts. All numbers cited in this story are rounded, and for the U.S. only. Programmed streams are not included in any of the data in this story.