Taylor Swift scored the best debut week for any album this year, which is no big shock: She’s one of today’s most visible pop stars. But the artist who scored the second-highest debut of 2012 was a real surprise: Mumford & Sons. The British folk-rockers beat Justin Bieber, Madonna and One Direction by selling 600,000 copies of Babel in one week. In fact, it was the fastest-selling rock album in four years. And this is a band with no celebrity members: Can you even name one of them? Btw, answering ‘Mumford’ doesn’t count.
Plus, think of how many times you’ve heard songs from Nicki Minaj and Rihanna on the radio this year. These Brits outsold them in a big way without hit singles or tabloid headlines. Expect a big push from other folk-tinged rockers in 2013, whether that means new bands or existing ones hoping to capitalize on the zeitgeist.