Pop and Rock Rule Mid-2012 Music Sales Charts (Analysis)

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Adele leaks the pack of best-selling pop albums with "21," trailed by efforts from One Direction, Justin Bieber and Madonna.

With the year half-over, let's take a closer look at some of the biggest selling albums and songs across the major genres of music: pop, rock, R&B/hip-hop, country and Latin.


A year ago at this point, a full half of the top 20 selling albums were pop efforts. The genre's dominance has scaled back a bit -- at least in terms of the top sellers -- as only six of the top 20 in 2012 are pop titles.

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Adele's 21 leads the pop charge with 3.69 million, while One Direction's Up All Night (899,000), the Now 41 compilation (714,000), Adele's 19 (539,000), Justin Bieber's Believe (490,000) and Madonna's MDNA (484,000) also populate the top 20 at Nos. 3, 10, 12 and 13, respectively.

Pop, country, R&B/hip-hop and rock albums are evenly distributed in the top 20. The country genre nabs five sets, R&B/hip-hop takes four and rock owns five.

The highest selling country title this year is Lionel Richie's surprise hit Tuskegee, with 912,000 sold. The album contains country-styled covers of the veteran artist's familiar hits, sung with a bevy of country superstars.

R&B/hip-hop's crown jewel in 2012 is the late Whitney Houston's Whitney: The Greatest Hits, with 818,000. After Houston, Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is the next biggest R&B/hip-hop set with 557,000.

Though rock earns five of the top 20 selling albums, its highest ranking set is at No. 11 on the overall top 20 list: Gotye's Making Mirrors with 538,000. At this point a year ago, Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More was the biggest rock set, at No. 3 with 982,000.

While no Latin albums rank among the year's top 20 overall selling sets, the No. 1 selling Latin release so far in 2012 is Romeo Santos' Formula: Vol 1, with 91,000.


As for 2012's top 20 selling digital songs, pop still pretty much runs the world, with 12 of the top 20 coming from that genre. A year ago at this time, 14 of the top 20 selling songs were pop.

Twenty-three percent of all tracks sold this year are pop -- the same share at this point a year ago, when pop tunes outweighed all other genres.

This year, pop is actually outweighed by the rock genre, as rock represents 24 percent of all songs sold in 2012.

Rock's overall robust figure is aided by how 2012's top two songs are both rock tracks: Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" (5.50 million) and fun.'s "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae) (5.09 million).

Both "Somebody That I Used to Know" and "We Are Young" reached No. 1 on Billboard's weekly Rock Songs airplay chart.

A year ago, the top 20 selling songs housed 14 pop tracks and six R&B/hip-hop cuts. This year, 12 are pop, three are R&B/hip-hop and five are rock. For the second straight year, not a single country title ranks among the top 20 sellers. The last country song to rank in the mid-year top 20 was Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now," which was the fourth-largest selling song mid-way through 2010.

This year's highest selling R&B/hip-hop song is "Young, Wild & Free" by Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa featuring Bruno Mars (No. 15 with 2.03 million). While there are a couple of rhythmic-leaning tunes that have sold more (like Minaj's "Starships" and Flo Rida's "Wild Ones"), those are categorized as pop tracks.

It's a man's world among the top 20 selling digital songs, as 15 of the top 20 are led by men or male-fronted groups. The only female-led songs are Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" (No. 3 with 4.06 million), Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" (No. 4 with 3.32 million), Minaj's "Starships" (No. 5 with 3.16 million), Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" (No. 11 with 2.53 million) and Katy Perry's "Part of Me" (No. 14 with 2.08 million).

A year ago, women were more robustly featured in the top 20, with nine of those songs female-fronted. And, a full five of the top six were all by ladies.