|First posted 2/20/2012; last updated 9/11/2020.|
World’s Best-Selling Albums:
The Top 100+ Albums
You’d think it would be simple to generate this list; you just count up how many sales each album has and the one with the most is the best-seller and so on, right? Well…
There’s a couple problems. First, on a global scale, there just isn’t any solid means in place for tracking albums. Second, even those official sales measurers (such as the RIAA in the United States) favor more recent albums because of improvements in tracking over the years and simple population growth. Third, albums that preceded official tracking measures don’t even typically show up on all-time best-selling lists.
As a result, the DMDB has compiled what lists it can find to try to generate a worldwide bestsellers list. Click here for a complete list of those sources. In the event of ties, the oldest album is listed first. Click on an album to go to its DMDB page.
Note: One should certainly regard this list with at least some skepticism. Remember, these aren’t official numbers, just estimates. Also, to boost an album’s reputation, even official websites or record companies may inflate numbers. (Iron Butterfly has sold 30 million copies worldwide of In-A-Gada-Da-Vida? Really?) However, it is my opinion that these estimates come much closer to reflecting all-times sales than the official records reflect.
Note: when albums sold the same amount, they are listed by overall DMDB points. Also, this list is slightly over 100 albums to include all those which sold 20 million or more.
1. 72.4 million: Michael Jackson Thriller (1982)
11. 38.5 million: Various Artists (Whitney Houston et al) The Bodyguard (soundtrack, 1992)
21. 32 million: Mariah Carey Music Box (1993)
31. 30 million: The Beatles Abbey Road (1969)
41. 28.5 million: Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
51. 27 million: Linkin Park Hybrid Theory (2000)
61. 25 million: Whitney Houston Whitney Houston (1985)
71. 23.35 million: Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
81. 21.5 million: The Beatles The Beatles (aka “The White Album”) (1968)
91. 20 million: Michael Jackson Off the Wall (1979)
101. 20 million: Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell (1993)
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