It was a record held by Madonna for 21 years but Adele has broken it with her second album, coincidentally entitled 21, which on Sunday topped the UK charts for the 10th consecutive week – the longest ever for a UK album by a female solo artist.
Remarkably, more than 257,000 copies of the album were bought in the UK last week, a week-on-week increase of 65% – the strongest seven-day sales figures for the record yet.
The 22-year old released 21 in January, since when it has also topped the album charts in 17 European countries and the US.
The London-born singer's debut album 19 also held steady at no 2 in the UK charts on Sunday, seeing off competition from Ronan Keating's collaboration with Burt Bacharach, When Ronan Met Burt.
The effect of Mother's Day was a factor but this alone failed to account for Adele's success, according to Martin Talbot, managing director of the Official Charts Company.
"This is notoriously one of the quietest times of the year for the record industry, so what she has achieved is astonishing," he said.
"She has gone from being a promising young artist, who existed slightly in the slipstream of acts like Duffy, to become the biggest act in the UK by a country mile.
"To do so well, you've often got to be quite cheesy, but she's the opposite of cheese – she's popular right across the spectrum."
The record was set by Madonna's 1990 Immaculate Collection, a compilation.
The last act to spend 10 straight weeks at no 1 with a studio album was Dire Straits with Brothers in Arms in 1986. The album with the record for the most consecutive weeks at no 1 is Bob Marley and the Wailers' Legend, a compilation which achieved 12 weeks in 1984.
On Monday, Ladbrokes was offering odds of 1/6 on Adele beating that record.
"Adele looks set to smash Marley's record and in the process could set one which lasts for just as long," said a Ladbrokes spokesman.
The success of Adele's two albums has also boosted the fortunes of her record label, the independent XL.
In the year to date, it has enjoyed a 9% share of the UK market, whereas the weakest performing of the major labels – EMI Music – accounted for only 12%. Between them, Adele's two albums have sold more than 2.2m copies in the UK this year.
"There is none of the scandal that helped sell Amy Winehouse," said Alexis Petridis, the Guardian's chief pop critic.
"Adele did go to the Brit School but she doesn't sound like the product of endless focus groups – she just seems normal, and there's something attainable and lovely about that."
Also in the top 10 albums chart on Sunday were new entries of wildly different pedigree: X Factor singer Mary Byrne, who charted at no 6; Radiohead, who reached no 7 with the CD release of The King Of Limbs; and Britney Spears, whose comeback album Femme Fatale charted at no 8.
The only disappointment for Adele, who starts a UK tour on Thursday 14 April, was that her song Someone Like You was knocked from the no 1 slot on the singles chart.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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