The Top Selling Albums of All Time

michael jackson thriller front www freecovers netEveryone knows about Michael Jackson’s Thriller being the top-selling album of all time worldwide, but looking at the rest of the list, some of the albums are head-scratchers. How did they wind up so high? Let’s look:

michael jackson thriller front www freecovers net1 75x751. Michael Jackson Thriller (1982)
100–109 million albums sold
There’s no surprise with this one and these numbers will only grow now that the King of Pop has died.

base image 75x752. AC/DC Back in Black (1980)
45 million albums sold
To me, this No. 2 is very surprising, simply because there’s very little crossover with this band. I own the album and love it, and it’s certainly held up over the years, but No. 2 all time? I’ll give Angus and the boys credit, but ask anyone on the street and odds are they would never guess this comes second to Thriller.

images 75x753. Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
45 million albums sold
This one baffles me, as well. I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan but Money is the only song off this album that still gets airplay. I’m fairly certain this never really topped the charts, but just kept selling enough copies since 1973 to make it to become No. 3 all time.

images1 75x754. Meat Loaf Bat out of Hell (1977)
43 million albums sold
Paradise By the Dashboard Lights is one of the most creative songs ever written, and if it weren’t for that I don’t think anyone would own this album. Again, a very unpredictable album for No. 4.

images2 75x755. Eagles Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) (1976)
42 million albums sold
This album doesn’t even have Hotel California on it! Okay, there are some decent songs here, and it consistently sold very well over the years, and is NO. 1 ALL TIME IN THE US, NOT THRILLER (although that may change again soon). But again, this leaves me scratching my head, wondering why it ranks in the top 5 ever.

images3 75x756. Various artists Dirty Dancing (1987)
42 million albums sold
While the movie pretty much sucked, the music sold it, and 42 million copies sounds about right. Even Patrick Swayze sounds good singing She’s Like the Wind. But of course, the signature song is “I’ve had the Time of My Life.” That’s one of the few songs that makes me want to dance and I hate to dance.

images4 75x757. Whitney Houston / Various artists The Bodyguard (1992)
42 million albums sold
Another bad movie that was sold on the music, entirely because of Whitney Houston. Makes me wonder if it would have sold more or less had it been an ordinary album release instead of being attached to this flick.

images5 75x758. Andrew Lloyd Webber The Phantom of the Opera (1986)
40 million albums sold
For those of you rolling your eyes that the soundtrack to a Broadway show is so high on the list, let me tell you that the music is so good that even my little brother, who loves heavy metal and plays the drums, enjoys this soundtrack. My father, who hasn’t bought an album since 1979, borrows it from me to play on his long road trips. While I believe Fiddler on the Roof has the best music for a stage show, Webber created a masterpiece with this and it deserves every sale it gets. Hint: Get the double disk.

images6 75x759. Backstreet Boys Millennium (1999)
40 million albums sold
Umm, err, gosh, gee… I’m totally not into Boy Bands, and never will be, but I suppose one of these top-selling albums should be up here considering the market for teenage girls. I’m just surprised it’s not New Kids on the Block.

images7 75x7510. Bee Gees/Various artists Saturday Night Fever (1977)
40 million albums sold
Considering the popularity of disco in the 70s, one of these albums was bound to be up here, although I seriously doubt anyone has bought a copy since the 70s.

images8 75x7511. Fleetwood Mac Rumours (1977)
40 million albums sold
An excellent album that still sounds good today, unlike flavor of the moments like some of the albums above.

images9 75x7512. Shania Twain Come on Over (1997)
39 million albums sold
The success of this album is due in large part to Shania’s then husband and producer Mutt Lange, who is a genius when it comes to putting out hit albums. This is also the first country album on this list, and considering it’s pop-like nature, it had a huge crossover appeal. I actually prefer The Woman in Me over this one.

images10 75x7513. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
37 million albums sold
This is simply a masterpiece of an album, with Stairway to Heaven leading the charge. I’m surprised that this isn’t No. 2 all time instead of Back in Black.

images11 75x7514. Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill (1995)
33 million albums sold
I enjoyed this album in 1995, but like many songs in the 90s, it now seems dated. It had several hits and I don’t want to take away any credit from Alanis for what she did here, but I find myself hitting the skip button on the IPod when any of these songs come on.

images12 75x7515. The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
32 million albums sold
Considering how big the Beatles were, I’m just surprised that this album isn’t higher on the list.

images13 75x7516. Celine Dion Falling into You (1996)
32 million albums sold
Overproduced power ballads belted out by a Canuck. Not really surprised about it’s success over the years but this kind of music gets annoying.

images14 75x7517. Mariah Carey Music Box (1993)
32 million albums sold
I love this album… so much better than Dion.

images15 75x7518. Michael Jackson Dangerous (1991)
32 million albums sold
This one too is bound to move up the charts some, although I’m surprised that this one outsold Bad, which I think is far better.

images16 75x7519. The Beatles 1 (2000)
31 million albums sold
A greatest hits album, released to mark the 30th anniversary of the band’s breakup.

images17 75x7520. Celine Dion Let’s Talk About Love (1997)
31 million albums sold
More of the same overproduced power ballads. Ugh.

Backstreet Boys: Backstreet Boys (1997) 30 million sold
The Beatles: Abbey Road (1969) 30 million sold
Bee Gees: Spirits Having Flown (1979) 30 million sold
Bruce Springsteen: Born in the U.S.A. (1984) 30 million sold
James Horner: Titanic (1997) 30 million sold
Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms (1985) 30 million sold
Michael Jackson: Bad (1987) 30 million sold
Various artists: Grease (1978) 28 million sold
Bon Jovi: Slippery When Wet (1986) 28 million sold
Guns N’ Roses: Appetite for Destruction (1987) 28 million sold
ABBA: ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits (1992) 26 million sold
Hootie & the Blowfish: Cracked Rear View (1994) 26 million sold
Nirvana: Nevermind (1991) 26 million sold
Britney Spears: …Baby One More Time (1999) 25 million sold
Iron Butterfly: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida: (1968) 25 million sold
Mariah Carey: Daydream (1995) 25 million sold
Queen: Greatest Hits (1981) 25 million sold
Santana: Supernatural (1999) 25 million sold
Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge over Troubled Water (1970) 25 million sold
U2: The Joshua Tree (1987) 25 million sold
Whitney Houston: Whitney Houston (1985) 25 million sold
Backstreet Boys: Black & Blue (2000) 24 million sold
Linkin Park: Hybrid Theory (2000) 24 million sold
Madonna: True Blue (1986) 24 million sold
Ace of Base: Happy Nation/The Sign (1994) 23 million sold
Spice Girls: Spice (1996) 23 million sold
Carole King: Tapestry (1971) 22 million sold
Madonna: The Immaculate Collection (1990) 22 million sold
Metallica: Metallica (1991) 22 million sold
Dido: No Angel (1999) 21 million sold
Madonna: Like A Virgin (1984) 21 million sold
Billy Ray Cyrus: Some Gave All (1992) 20 million sold
Bob Marley & The Wailers: The Best of Bob Marley & The Wailers (1984) 20 million sold
Britney Spears: Oops!… I Did It Again (2000) 20 million sold
Blondie: Parallel Lines (1978) 20 million sold
Celine Dion: The Colour of My Love (1993) 20 million sold
Cher: Believe (1999) 20 million sold
Def Leppard: Hysteria (1987) 20 million sold
George Michael: Faith (1987) 20 million sold
Janet Jackson: Janet (1993) 20 million sold
Lionel Richie: Can’t Slow Down (1983) 20 million sold
Michael Jackson: HIStory: Past, Present and Future – Book I (1995) 20 million sold
Michael Jackson: Off the Wall (1979) 20 million sold
Norah Jones: Come Away With Me (2002) 20 million sold
Prince & the Revolution: Purple Rain (1984) 20 million sold
Shakira: Laundry Service (2001) Pop Rock 20 million sold
Spice Girls: Spiceworld (1997) 20 million sold
Tina Turner: Private Dancer (1984) 20 million sold
Usher: Confessions (2004) 20 million sold