Who run the world? Girls. At least when it comes to the music industry this year, they did. A lot of the major female pop acts released hugely successful albums this year. From Adele to Gaga, female pop stars were breaking music industry records left and right in 2011.

What is it about female pop stars that has everyone so captivated? The year started off with a bang for Adele, who released her sophomore effort 21. 44 weeks later, the album is holding strong at No.2 on the Billboard 200 charts, and just had it’s biggest sales week yet! Not only has this album been a hit, the singles from it have all been No.1s. There’s no doubt, 2011 will be known as the year of Adele.

If you take a look at Billbaord.com’s top 10 artists of the year, 6 of the top 10 are solo female artists (Adele, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and Taylor Swift). That doesn’t even include Britney Spears (14), Pink (16), Kesha (19) or Beyonce (25).

Unsurprisingly, the top 10 albums of the year according to Billboard also feature 7 female solo acts: Adele, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Susan Boyle (!), Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Katy Perry.

Not only have these acts had success, they’ve had HUGE record-breaking success. Like the kind you only see once per decade.

In May, Lady Gaga’s highly-anticipated album Born This Way became one of only 17 albums in history to sell over 1 million copies in its first week. Not only that but it was the biggest selling sales week since 2005 when 50 Cent’s The Massacre was released.

In August, Adele’s album 21 became the first record in over 10 years to log 12 non-consecutive weeks at the No.1 position. The last album to do that? Santana’s album Supernatural in 1999/2000.

If that weren’t enough, Katy Perry is only a few slots away from beating Michael Jackson’s long-standing record of most No.1 singles from a single album. She has already become the first woman to do so with 5.

These female artists’ albums and singles aren’t the only things breaking records. Their tours have been hugely successful too. Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga had 2 of the top-grossing tours of the year with Swift grossing $97.7 million and Gaga grossing $63.7 million!

And it looks like the girl power isn’t ending anytime soon. Though there’s no release date yet, her madjesty Madonna will be releasing an album sometime around March of 2012. And, her first single features an all girl line up with Nicki Minaj and MIA!

And in what might be the most interesting news of the year, music sales in 2011 are up 1% compared to 2010. You’re probably thinking 1% isn’t much right? Well, compare it to the fact that a year ago, sales had fallen 13% compared to 2009, and a gradual 8% decline for several years prior. Yes, that’s right. For the first time in several years, music sales actually grew! And these huge female artists are responsible.

There’s no denying that girl power has returned to pop music – but for how long? Do you think that the huge success of female pop stars will continue, or are we going to see a whole new type of success for artists by this time in 2012?