Friday, September 11, 2020

The World's Top 100+ All-Time Best-Selling Albums

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)
2. 50 million: AC/DC Back in Black (1980)
3. 50 million: Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell (1977)
4. 45 million: Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
5. 44.5 million: Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
6. 42.9 million: Eagles Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 (1976)
7. 40.4 million: Grease (soundtrack, 1978)
8. 40 million: Fleetwood Mac Rumours (1977)
9. 40 million: Saturday Night Fever (soundtrack, 1977)
10. 40 million: Shania Twain Come on Over (1997)

11. 38.5 million: Various Artists (Whitney Houston et al) The Bodyguard (soundtrack, 1992)
12. 35.0 million: Michael Jackson Bad (1987)
13. 34.4 million: Abba Gold: Greatest Hits (compilation, 1992)
14. 33 million: Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill (1995)
15. 33 million: Celine Dion Falling into You (1996)
16. 32.6 million: Dire Straits Brothers in Arms (1985)
17. 32.33 million: Eagles Hotel California (1976)
18. 32 million: The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
19. 32 million: Various Artists Dirty Dancing (soundtrack, 1987)
20. 32 million: Michael Jackson Dangerous (1991)

21. 32 million: Mariah Carey Music Box (1993)
22. 31.5 million: The Beatles 1 (compilation, 2000)
23. 31.5 million: Madonna The Immaculate Collection (compilation, 1990)
24. 31.3 million: Bob Marley & the Wailers Legend (compilation, 1984)
25. 31 million: Adele 21 26. 31 million: Metallica Metallica (aka “The Black Album”) (1991)
27. 31 million: Celine Dion Let’s Talk about Love (1997)
28. 30.7 million: Pink Floyd The Wall (1979)
29. 30.4 million: Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction (1987)
30. 30 million: Nirvana Nevermind (1991)

31. 30 million: The Beatles Abbey Road (1969)
32. 30 million: U2 The Joshua Tree (1987)
33. 30 million: Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
34. 30 million: Bruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
35. 30 million: Santana Supernatural (1999)
36. 30 million: the Beatles 1962-1966 (compilation, 1973)
37. 30 million: James Horner (composer) Titanic (soundtrack, 1997)
38. 30 million: Iron Butterfly In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968)
39. 30 million: Bee Gees Spirits Having Flown (1979)
40. 29.8 million: The Beatles 1967-1970 (compilation, 1973)

41. 28.5 million: Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
42. 28.3 million: Britney Spears Baby…One More Time (1999)
43. 28 million: Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet (1986)
44. 28 million: Boston Boston (1976)
45. 28 million: Backstreet Boys Backstreet Boys (U.S. version, 1997)
46. 27.6 million: Queen Greatest Hits (compilation, 1981)
47. 27.6 million: Spice Girls Spice (1996)
48. 27 million: Norah Jones Come Away with Me (2002)
49. 27 million: Eminem The Eminem Show (2002)
50. 27 million: Elton John Greatest Hits (compilation, 1974)

51. 27 million: Linkin Park Hybrid Theory (2000)
52. 26.45 million: Phil Collins No Jacket Required (1985)
53. 26.3 million: Madonna True Blue (1986)
54. 26 million: Prince & the Revolution Purple Rain (soundtrack, 1984)
55. 26 million: Eric Clapton Unplugged (live, 1992)
56. 26 million: Madonna Like a Virgin (1984)
57. 26 million: U2 Songs of Innocence (2014)
58. 25.1 million: Simon & Garfunkel Greatest Hits (compilation, 1972)
59. 25 million: Carole King Tapestry (1971)
60. 25 million: George Michael Faith (1987)

61. 25 million: Whitney Houston Whitney Houston (1985)
62. 25 million: Backstreet Boys Millenium (1999)
63. 25 million: Mariah Carey Daydream (1995)
64. 25 million: Elvis Presley Christmas Album (1957)
65. 24.5 million: Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II (1969)
66. 24.4 million: Phil Collins But Seriously (1989)
67. 24.3 million: Whitney Houston Whitney (1987)
68. 24 million: Backstreet Boys Black & Blue (2000)
69. 23.9 million: Hootie & the Blowfish Cracked Rear View (1994)
70. 23.4 million: ZZ Top Eliminator (1983)

71. 23.35 million: Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
72. 23 million: Garth Brooks No Fences (1990)
73. 23 million: Ace of Base The Sign (aka “Happy Nation”) (1993)
74. 22.4 million: Oasis (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (1995)
75. 22.3 million: Queen Greatest Hits 2 (compilation, 1991)
76. 22 million: Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II (composers) The Sound of Music (soundtrack, 1965)
77. 22 million: Def Leppard Hysteria (1987)
78. 22 million: Adele 25 (2015)
79. 22 million: Michael Jackson HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book 1 (studio album/compilation, 1995)
80. 22 million: Celine Dion All the Way…A Decade of Song (compilation, 1999)

81. 21.5 million: The Beatles The Beatles (aka “The White Album”) (1968)
82. 21.4 million: Billy Joel Greatest Hits Volume I & II (compilation, 1985)
83. 21.3 million: Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here (1975)
84. 21 million: Lionel Richie Can’t Slow Down (1983)
85. 21 million: Bon Jovi Cross Road (compilation, 1994)
86. 21 million: Boyz II Men Men II (1994)
87. 21 million: Dido No Angel (1999)
88. 20.4 million: U2 Achtung Baby (1991)
89. 20.4 million: Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman (1988)
90. 20 million: The Who Tommy (1969)

91. 20 million: Michael Jackson Off the Wall (1979)
92. 20 million: Blondie Parallel Lines (1978)
93. 20 million: Green Day Dookie (1994)
94. 20 million: MC Hammer Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (1990)
95. 20 million: Supertramp Breakfast in America (1979)
96. 20 million: Usher Confessions (2004)
97. 20 million: The Fugees The Score (1996)
98. 20 million: Tina Turner Private Dancer (1984)
99. 20 million: Shania Twain The Woman in Me (1995)
100. 20 million: Mariah Carey #1’s (compilation, 1998)

101. 20 million: Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell (1993)
102. 20 million: Various Artists: Flashdance (soundtrack, 1983)
103. 20 million: Celine Dion The Colour of My Love (1993)
104. 20 million: Aerosmith Get a Grip (1993)
105. 20 million: Ricky Martin Ricky Martin (1999)
106. 20 million: Britney Spears Oops!...I Did It Again (2000)


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3 comments:

  1. 25 million copies of Inna Gada Davida might be a little high, but being a little older than you, and living in the same house with a bunch of hippies I can tell you this album was MASSIVE. It probably has sold more than either of us think.

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  2. Looking at my handy copy of Joel Whitburn's top Pop Albums, Iron Butterfly's In A Goda Da Vida was rated at 4x Platinum (4,000,000 sales) as of early 2009. I don't think it sold 21,000,000 copies in the time since.

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    Replies
    1. The Pop Albums book only goes by official certifications through the RIAA for American sales. This list is based on multiple sources (http://davesmusicdatabase.blogspot.com/p/links.html#sales) which take into account international sales and estimations of sales. The latter becomes especially relevant for albums, such as In-a-Gada-Da-Vida which were released prior to 1975, the year when the RIAA started awarding platinum records.

      Having said all that, some of these lists incorporate figures based on record companies' estimations of sales and may be inflated. That could be the case here as 25 million sounds high to me as well, but it's probably a safe bet that the number truly is much higher than 4 million.

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