UK-signed acts including Ed Sheeran, One Direction and The Script helped US one-track digital sales hit a new high with a record 55.74 million tracks downloaded in the last week of 2012.
The figure easily smashes the previous record set in the week ending December 28 2008 when 47.73 million tracks were sold and represent a 118.6% weekly rise, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Sales were also up an impressive 20.1% compared to the corresponding week in 2011.
While Taylor Swift led the sales charge with 582,000 copies sold of I Knew You Were Trouble, a number of British acts experienced high rises in demand in what represented a strong closing performance by UK artists in the US market. Among them was Ed Sheeran whose The A-Team enjoyed by far its highest weekly sales yet with 180,000 copies sold. That was 198% up on the previous week and took its cumulative total up to 1.2 million, while helping to lift the track up a place to a new peak of 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. At the same time his album + makes a rapid ascent of the Billboard 200, climbing 59-25, its highest position after debuting at 5 back in June.
One Direction were also caught up in the end-of-year download rush with a number of their tracks experiencing big sales increases, including Little Things whose numbers weekly numbers rose 189% to 153,000 and as a result it gains eight places to a new peak of 33 on the Hot 100. At the same time the group's Live While We're Youg moves back up 74-43, Kiss You re-enters at 83 and Rock Me is new at 98. The Script's Hall Of Fame featuring will.i.am. also hits a new Hot 100 high, climbing 37-28 some 14 weeks in after its download sales increased 190% to 172,000.
In total there are an impressive 13 tracks by UK or UK-signed acts on the Hot 100, while Brits equally have a strong presence on the Billboard 200 albums chart, occupying 14 positions in the top half of the chart. Heading this charge are One Direction whose Take Me Home climbs 4-3 with sales down 32% to 120,000 and Mumford & Sons' Babel, which holds at 8 with sales dropping 27% to 68,000.
Besides Ed Sheeran, a number of other UK acts are heading northwards on the Billboard 200, including Adele who marks 21 this week becoming the US's top annual seller for a second successive year (see separate story) with the title climbing 17-16. One Direction's first album Up All Night is back up 21-15, Ellie Goulding's Halcyon rockets 118-38, Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More climbs 52-49, Cher Lloyd's Sticks & Stones vaults 161-72 and The Beatles' 1 moves up 117-95. However, Rod Stewart's festive set is down as the holiday season fades with Merry Christmas, Baby sinking 8-26.
Completing the UK picture in the top half of the chart are Led Zeppelin's Celebration Day (20-32), The Rolling Stones' GRRR! (50-73), Muse's The 2nd Law (84-84) and Adele's 19 (86-100). Outside the 100, Alt-J's Mercury-winning An Awesome Wave re-enters at 166.
Taylor Swift's Red continues to head the Billboard 200 with sales dropping 12% to 241,000, while the soundtrack to the movie Les Miserables accelerates 33-2 with weekly sales up 218% to 136,000 copies. That is the biggest rise into the top two since Robert Plant and Alison Krauss's Raising Sand moved 69-2 in February 28 following its Grammy album of the year win.
Below One Direction, Bruno Mars' Unorthodox Jukebox falls 3-4 with sales falling 38% to 110,000 as Locked Out Of Heaven spends a fourth week at No 1 on the Hot 100, while a 59% sales drop to 74,000 copies accompanies T.I.'s Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head falling 3-5.
Imagine Dragons make a big move into the Top 10, rising 46-6 with Night Visions with its sales up 130% to 70,000. This was fuelled by an Amazon MP3 one-day sale, making the album available for $1.99. There were indentical offers for Rihanna's Unapologetic, which as a result moves 19-7 with sales rising 3% to 68,000, and The Lumineers' self-titled album, which climbs 24-9 with sales up 10% to 61,000. Meanwhile, following the film's DVD release, the soundtrack to Pitch Perfect climbs 45-10 with sales up 84% to 58,000.
The US albums market closed 2012 on a high with sales up 26.7% compared to the corresponding week the year before. Some 9.77 million albums were sold, down 23.1% on the previous week, and taking sales for the entire year to 315.96 million units. This was down 4.4% on what was shifted in 2011.