Smashed, destroyed, obliterated, pulverized, annihilated ... whichever dramatic verb you like, take your pick, because that is what Adele's new album 25 did to the records it went up against when it dropped on November 21.
As of November 29, 25 has sold 3.4 million copies, according to Nielsen. To put this record-shattering number into perspective, even the most hopeful projections predicted that 25's first week sales would top out around 2.5 million. And for all the talk of how Adele was going to break the record that NSYNC's No Strings Attached set for first-week sales back in 2000 with 2.4 million sold, she beat that in just four days.
Justin Timberlake has yet to comment, but his co–boy band survivors and the stars of the 2001 "romantic" "comedy" On the Line were very gracious.
@Adele again congrats !!! Could not have been happier it was u to beat our record ... Great voice ! great album !— Joey Fatone (@realjoeyfatone) November 25, 2015
It's been said before, but it bears repeating: Adele's 3.4 million albums sold in a single week defies all expectations for where the music industry is right now and the number of album sales even the biggest artists can achieve in this new digital age. We knew 25 would sell well, especially once Adele confirmed that the album wouldn't be available to stream for at least its first week. But her numbers are so enormous that they would have been stunning in 2000, when digital sales didn't exist.
As Nielsen's VP of industry insights, David Bakula, told Business Insider, "There is no precedent for something this big. It’s not just that she's breaking the record, but we're now in a day and age where music consumption has changed so dramatically. You can’t overstate how important and incredible a feat it is that this record is getting to the level that it is." For comparison, just look at Taylor Swift, who also opted to forgo streaming when she released 1989 — which sold 1.3 million copies in its first week and went on to become 2014's best-selling album, with 3.6 million total albums sold.
Today, when every artist struggles to sell physical albums regardless of stature, 3.4 million albums sold in a week is staggering. We won't be saying goodbye to Adele anytime soon.