Who the F@#k are Mumford and Sons?

And how did they sell over 600,000 copies of their new album in its first week out?

And how did they sell over 600,000 copies of their new album in its first week out?

Courtesy of Big Hassle Media

Okay, so many of you already know about this folky English quartet. After all, they played the Grammy’s a couple years ago, and have been turning up on late night talk shows and “Saturday Night Live,” and you’re not going to sell that many albums in a week without getting your name out there. But still, 600,000 is a shit-ton of sales, especially in this day and age, so you should probably know a bit more about what these guys are all about.

So…who are they?

Four young bluegrass-crazy lads from Blighty, whose rollicking banjo-fiddle-and-accordian-inflected sound was honed playing together on the West London folk scene. All four members are multi-instrumentalists: Lead vocalist Marcus Mumford also plays guitar, drums and mandolin; Ben Levitt sings and plays keyboards, drums and accordian;  Winston Marshall plays banjo, dobro and guitar; and Ted Dwane plays stand-up bass, drums and guitar. The result is an earnest, frantic take on folk that owes more than a small debt to punk rock.

Where would you have heard them?

The band’s debut, “Sigh No More”, was released in 2009, and earned them Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rock Song for “Little Lion Men.” They didn’t win, but they did get to perform at the ceremony with one of their heroes, Bob Dylan. A year later, their song “The Cave” was nominated at the Grammys for Record of the Year, Song of Year, Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song. Also, if you read Us Weekly (and we know you do) you may have read that frontman Marcus Mumford is married to adorable British actress Carey Mulligan. And that he looks kind of like Tim Tebow.

Still, how did they sell so many damn records?

Good question, but you can probably start with Spotify. The band’s new album, “Babel”, was streamed a whopping 8 million times on the online music streaming service the week before its official release. Apparently, listeners liked what they heard for free enough to shell out their cash and buy the album outright. According to Spotify, those 8 million spins are more than three times as many as the previous title-holder.

But is 600,000 really that impressive?

In 2012 it is. The previous best-selling debut of the year was Justin Bieber’s “Believe” with 374,000, followed by Madonna’s “MDNA” with 359,000 and P!nk’s “The Truth About Love” with 280,000. Of course, that’s still a far cry from the days when *N Sync moved 2.4 million copies of “No Strings Attached” in 2000, but the whole landscape of the music business has changed.

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