NEW YORK (AFP) - The long-awaited new album by Adele, 25, looks set to break the modern record for first week sales, the makers of the benchmark US chart said on Nov 21.
Billboard, the music industry journal that publishes weekly charts, said that 25, released on Nov 20, appeared likely to sell at least 2.5 million copies in the United States.
No Strings Attached by NSync, the boy band starring Justin Timberlake, is the only other album that opened with sales above two million since systematic weekly tracking began in 1991.
No Strings Attached sold 2.4 million copies in its first week in 2000 - a year before the launch of Apple's iTunes, which drastically changed buying habits.
In a rare move that surely boosted sales, Adele's label chose not to make 25 available through streaming, the vast-growing platforms that offer unlimited, on-demand music online.
25 is still available for purchase digitally and sold 900,000 copies on iTunes in the United States on the first day, according to Billboard.
The album also looked to be one of the biggest debuts ever in Adele's native Britain, where the Official Charts Company said it sold 300,000 copies on its first day.
The only album with a bigger first-day debut was Be Here Now by Oasis, which sold 424,000 copies in 1997 - again, an era in which overall music sales were much higher.
The music industry has placed enormous hopes in Adele with 25. Her last album, 21, from 2011, was the top-seller in the United States for two straight years and is the biggest release in Britain so far this century.
25 - led by the giant hit Hello - consists largely of songs of heartache and nostalgia, following the pattern of 21 which featured the tear-jerking ballad Someone Like You.