We all like a list and here we bring you the latest sales for the best selling rock and pop albums of all time. This Top 50 is for studio albums only and doesn’t include any Greatest Hits, Soundtracks or compilation albums.
Eagles – Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) has recently surpassed Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the number-one best selling album of all time. The soundtrack albums The Bodyguard, Saturday Night Fever, and Grease: The Original Soundtrack are also up there with the 10 best selling albums ever.
Some stats: Five out of the top ten best selling albums in the world were all released during the seventies, the most albums in the 50 by decade goes to the nineties with 16 albums, just beating the eighties with 15. Only two albums from the sixties made it and British artists make up only 15 places on the list. Celine Dion has three albums, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Britney Spears, Madonna, Eminem, Adele and Michael Jackson all have two albums each in the list.
50. Lionel Richie – Can’t Slow Down (1983) 20m
Richie’s second solo studio album has sold over 20 million copies. Five singles were released from Can’t Slow Down, all of which hit the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including two that reached number-one: “All Night Long (All Night)” and “Hello”. The album also won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1985.
49. Green Day – Dookie (1994) 20m
In 1986, friends Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt, 14 years old at the time, formed a band called Sweet Children and played their debut gig the following year. In 1994, their major label debut Dookie, became a breakout success and eventually shipped over 10 million copies in the US. The album won the band a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album in 1995. Green Day has sold more than 85 million records worldwide.
48. George Michael – Faith (1987) 20m
The debut solo studio album by George Michael spawned four number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100: “Faith”, “Father Figure”, “One More Try”, and “Monkey”, making Michael the only British male solo artist to have four number one hits from one album. Faith won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1989.
47. Celine Dion – The Colour of My Love (1993) 20m
The Canadian singer emerged as a teen star in her homeland with a series of French-language albums during the 1980s. A New Day… in Las Vegas Strip (2003–07), remains the highest-grossing concert residency of all time and Dion is the best-selling Canadian artist and one of the best-selling artists ever with record sales of over 200 million copies worldwide.
46. Britney Spears – Oops!… I Did It Again (2000) 20m
The second studio album by Britney Spears was released in 2000 and debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 1,319,000 copies. The album also reached number one in fifteen other countries.
45. Boston – Boston (1976) 20m
The debut studio album by American rock band Boston became the best-selling debut album in the US when released in 1976. The album’s singles, most notably “More Than a Feeling” and “Long Time”, were both AM and FM hits, and nearly the entire album receives constant rotation on classic rock radio.
44. Madonna – Like a Virgin (1984) 21m
For her second studio album Madonna chose Nile Rodgers for production duties due to his work with David Bowie. It became Madonna’s first number one album on the Billboard 200 and set the record as the first female album in history to sell over five million copies in the United States.
43. Adele – 25 (2015) 22m
A massive commercial success, debuting at number one in 32 countries and breaking first-week sales records. In the US, the album sold over 3.38 million copies in its first week, marking the largest single-week sales for an album. 25 eventually gave Adele the world’s best-selling album of 2015, with 17.4 million copies sold and has gone on to sell over 22 million copies worldwide.
42. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995) 22m
The band’s most commercially successful release sold a record-breaking 347,000 copies in its first week on sale in the UK, spent 10 weeks at number-one on the UK Albums Chart, and reached number four in the US Billboard 200. Around the time of this release the Gallagher brothers were featured regularly in tabloid newspapers for their sibling disputes and wild lifestyles. In 1996, Oasis performed two nights at Knebworth, England for an audience of 125,000 each night, which were at the time the largest outdoor concerts in UK history.
41. Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston (1985) 22m
Whitney Houston was a first cousin of singers Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick. Her godmother was Darlene Love and her honorary aunt was Aretha Franklin. Her debut studio album topped the Billboard 200 for 14 weeks generating three number-one singles — “Saving All My Love for You”, “How Will I Know” and “Greatest Love of All”.
40. Ace of Base – Happy Nation/The Sign (1992) 23m
The Swedish pop group consisting of Ulf Ekberg and three siblings: Jonas Berggren, Linn Berggren and Jenny Berggren had one of the best-selling debut albums of all time with Happy Nation (reissued as The Sign). Guinness Book of World Records named the LP the best-selling debut studio effort in music history.
39. Spice Girls – Spice (1996) 23m
The album peaked at number one in more than 17 countries across the world, and has sold a total of 23 million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling album in music history by a girl group. The Spice Girls have sold 85 million records worldwide and became the biggest British pop success since The Beatles.
38. Backstreet Boys – Millennium (1999) 24m
The best-selling boy band of all time are the first group since Led Zeppelin to have their first ten albums reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200. “I Want It That Way”, one of four singles from this album reached the number-one spot in more than 25 countries. Millennium sold almost half a million copies in the US on its first day.
37. Def Leppard – Hysteria (1987) 25m
The fourth studio album by Def Leppard released in 1987 has sold over 25 million copies worldwide, including 12 million in the US, and spawned seven hit singles. The title of the album was thought up by drummer Rick Allen, referring to his 1984 car accident and the ensuing worldwide media coverage surrounding it.
36. Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time (1999) 25m
Spears and her management were presented a track titled “Hit Me Baby (One More Time)” which had been rejected by girl group TLC. When the song was released as “…Baby One More Time” as Spears’ debut single in October 1998 it reached number one in at least 18 countries. …Baby One More Time is Spears’ most successful album with sales of over 25 million copies worldwide.
35. U2 – The Joshua Tree (1987) 25m
The fifth studio album by Irish rock band U2 had the provisional titles The Desert Songs and The Two Americas. When released it became the fastest-selling album in British history and features the hit singles “With or Without You”, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, and “Where the Streets Have No Name”, the first two of which became the group’s only number-one singles in the US.
34. Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge over Troubled Water (1970) 25m
The final studio album by Simon & Garfunkel topped the charts in over ten countries and received two Grammy Awards. The title song became one of the most performed songs of the twentieth century, with over 50 artists, among them Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin, covering the song. Despite the albums success, the duo went their separate ways shortly after the albums release with their last performance at that time in the Forest Hills Stadium on July 18, 1970.
33. Phil Collins – No Jacket Required (1985) 25m
The third solo studio album by English drummer and singer-songwriter Phil Collins sold over twelve million copies in the US, and in the UK, over two million copies. With guest backing vocalists, including Helen Terry, Peter Gabriel and Sting the singles “Sussudio” and “One More Night” both reached number one on the US chart.
32. Carole King – Tapestry (1971) 25m
Tapestry received four Grammy Awards in 1972, including Album of the Year and the lead singles from the album — “It’s Too Late”/”I Feel the Earth Move” — spent five weeks at number one on the US chart. The cover photograph was taken at King’s Laurel Canyon home and shows her sitting in a window frame, holding a tapestry she hand-stitched herself, with her cat Telemachus.
31. Madonna – True Blue (1986) 25m
Madonna’s third studio album was inspired by her then husband Sean Penn, to whom Madonna dedicated the album. True Blue was an immediate global success, reaching number one in then record-breaking 28 countries across the world and became the world’s top-selling album of 1986.
30. Norah Jones – Come Away with Me (2002) 27m
Born Geethali Norah Jones Shankar to American concert producer Sue Jones and Indian musician Ravi Shankar, Jones was a lounge singer before finding success. Her debut studio album received Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album; the song “Don’t Know Why” won Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
29. Eminem – The Eminem Show (2002) 27m
The rappers fourth studio album is often debated as Eminem’s most personal and best work. It reached number one in nineteen countries and sold just under 4m copies in the US in the first month after release.
28. Mariah Carey – Music Box (1993) 28m
For her third studio album Mariah Carey employed Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Robert Clivillés and David Cole (also known as C+C Music Factory) and Daryl Simmons for production duties. The singles “Dreamlover”, “Hero” and “Without You“, became worldwide chart-topping hits, the latter becoming Carey’s highest charting international single of her career. Music Box remains Carey’s highest seller with 28 million copies sold worldwide.
27. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet (1986) 28m
With eight weeks at the top of the US album chart, the album features songs that are considered Bon Jovi’s best known, including “You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive”. Slippery When Wet transformed the New Jersey band into global superstars.
26. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) 30m
Recorded under the working titles of Vodka and Tonics and Silent Movies, Talking Pictures, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has come to be regarded as John’s best and most popular album. Among the 17 tracks, this double set contains the hits “Candle in the Wind”, “Bennie and the Jets”, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and the title track.
25. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction (1987) 30m
A slow burner when first released in 1987, it wasn’t until the following year that Appetite for Destruction became a massive commercial success, after the band had toured and received airplay with the singles “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine”. It topped the Billboard 200 and became the best-selling debut album of all time, as well as the eleventh best-selling album of all time in the United States.
24. Santana – Supernatural (1999) 30m
The band’s first number-one album since Santana III 28 years earlier, for his eighteenth studio album Carlos Santana wanted to focus his musical direction towards pop and radio friendly material and proceeded to do so by collaborating with various contemporary guest artists, including Eric Clapton, Rob Thomas, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews and Cee-Lo Green. It reached number-one in eleven countries, including the US for 12 non-consecutive weeks. Sales were boosted when the single “Smooth” featuring Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas, was a number one success worldwide and topped the Billboard chart for 12 weeks.
23. Pink Floyd – The Wall (1979) 30m
The eleventh studio album by Pink Floyd was a rock opera; its story explores Pink, a jaded rock star whose eventual self-imposed isolation from society is symbolised by a wall. The record was a commercial success, charting at number-one in the US for 15 weeks. The Wall initially received mixed reviews from critics, many of who found it overblown and pretentious. It later came to be considered one of the greatest albums of all time, as well as being one of the most well-known concept albums.
22. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991) 30m
Despite low commercial expectations, the album became an unexpected breakout success, largely due to the popularity of its lead single “Smells Like Teen Spirit“. By January 1992, it had replaced Michael Jackson’s Dangerous at number one on the US chart. Nevermind not only popularised the Seattle grunge movement but also brought alternative rock as a whole into the mainstream.
21. Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms (1985) 30m
Brothers in Arms was the first album certified 10-times platinum in the UK and is the eighth-best-selling album in UK chart history. It also had a record-breaking run of 34 weeks at number one on the Australian Albums Chart. The album also won a Grammy Award in 1986 for Best Engineered Album. Five singles from the album all charted: “So Far Away”, “Money for Nothing”, “Brothers in Arms”, “Walk of Life” and “Your Latest Trick”. In the Netherlands, the album used to hold the record for longest run ever on the Dutch Album chart with 269 weeks (non-consecutive) but lost it to Adele’s 21 in 2016.
20. Bruce Springsteen – Born In The U.S.A. 1984) 30m
The seventh studio album by American rock singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen produced seven top-10 hit singles and was promoted with a worldwide concert tour by Springsteen. The title track was much misunderstood, accused of being repulsively nationalistic, and viciously Anti-American, the track was endorsed by conservative US politicians as an exemplar of “classic American values” whilst the bitter lyrics actually tell the story of disaffected Vietnam veteran. Finally Springsteen became as powerful in the studio as he always had been on stage.
19. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969) 31m
Over time the eleventh and final album studio album by The Beatles became viewed as among the Beatles’ best and many critics have ranked it as one of the greatest albums of all time. Abbey Road has sold over 31 million copies worldwide. The cover image of the Beatles on the Abbey Road crossing has become one of the most famous and imitated in recording history and is a popular destination for Beatles fans.
18. Metallica – Metallica (1991) 31m
Their self-titled fifth album (the Black Album) marked a change in the band’s sound from the thrash metal style of the previous four albums to a slower and heavier one rooted in heavy metal. By September 2018, the album had spent 500 weeks on the Billboard album chart, making it one of the four longest-running albums of all time and the best-selling metal album of all time.
17. Celine Dion – Let’s Talk About Love (1997) 31m
Let’s Talk About Love includes Celine Dion’s biggest hit, “My Heart Will Go On”. Written by James Horner and Will Jennings, and serving as the love theme for James Cameron’s blockbuster film Titanic. The album became one of the best-selling albums in history.
16. Adele – 21 (2010) 31m
The album was named after the age of Adele during its production, this her second album is the best-selling album of the past decade. The album lodged 35 weeks atop the Irish Albums Chart, the longest in the chart’s history. In Spring 2017, the album broke the record for the longest-charting album by a female artist on the Billboard 200, surpassing Tapestry by Carole King.
15. Michael Jackson – Dangerous (1991) 32m
The eighth studio album by Michael Jackson dominated worldwide charts reaching number-one in over 10 countries, helped along by his worldwide number-one hit single “Black or White”. The album was recorded over two years in seven different recording studios. Sales of the album now stand at over 32 million copies.
14. Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory (2000) 32m
The debut studio album by American rock band Linkin Park has sold over 11m copies in the US alone. With 32 million copies sold, it the best-selling debut album since Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction (1987) and the best-selling rock album of the 21st century.
13. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) 32m
Sgt. Pepper become the first rock LP to receive a Grammy Award for Album of the Year and was lauded by critics for its innovations in production, song writing and graphic design. The lyrics were printed in full on the back cover, the first time this had been done on a rock LP. Langdon Winner said in Rolling Stone, “The closest Western Civilization has come to unity since the Congress of Vienna in 1815 was the week the Sgt. Pepper album was released. In every city in Europe and America the radio stations played it and everyone listened.”
12. Celine Dion – Falling into You (1997) 32m
Falling into You remains one of the best-selling albums of all time, with sales of over thirty-two million copies and won many awards around the world, including Grammy Award for Album of the Year and Best Pop Album at the 39th annual ceremony.
11. Alanis Morisette – Jagged Little Pill (1995) 33m
Morissette married grunge, pop, and raw, universal emotions in that most ’90s of genres, alternative rock. Nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning five, including Album of the Year, Jagged Little Pill topped the charts in thirteen countries; with sales of over 33 million copies worldwide.
10. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) 35m
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 1.78 million copies in the US in its first week alone, which made it the fastest-selling studio album in the United States at the time. The album was surrounded by significant controversy upon its release with criticism centered around lyrics that were considered violent, homophobic, and misogynistic. The Marshall Mathers LP has sold over 35 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling album of the 21st century.
9. Michael Jackson – Bad (1987) 35m
The follow up to Thriller reached number-one in 25 countries, sold at least two million copies in its first week in the US and remained in the top five on the Billboard 200 album chart for 38 weeks, setting a record for the longest run in the top five by an album from a male solo artist. By 1991, Bad was the second-best-selling album of all time at the time, behind Thriller, having sold 25 million copies worldwide.
8. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (1971) 37m
Led Zeppelin’s best-selling album in the US never topped the charts peaking at number-two. The band decided their fourth album would officially be untitled, and would be represented instead by four symbols chosen by each band member, without featuring the name or any other details on the cover. Not just hard rock but medieval folk, electrified blues, and the majestic epic “Stairway to Heaven”, Led Zeppelin IV has now sold over 37 million copies worldwide.
7. Shania Twain – Come On Over (1997) 40m
The third studio album by Canadian country music singer Shania Twain became the best-selling country music album, the best-selling studio album by a female act, and the best selling album by a Canadian. Ruling radio in the ’90s with hits like “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” the album stayed on the US top 10 for 54 weeks, and set a record for longest stay in the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 of 112 weeks.
6. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977) 40m
The transatlantic pop rock band Fleetwood Mac’s 11th studio album won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978, Rumours has since sold over 40 million copies worldwide, assisted by the hit songs “Go Your Own Way”, “Dreams”, “Don’t Stop”, and “You Make Loving Fun”. The album spent 31 non-consecutive weeks at number-one on the US charts. As of May 2016, Rumours has spent 630 weeks in the UK Top 75 album chart and is the 11th best-selling album in UK history.
5. Eagles – Hotel California (1976) 42m
When it came to hitting the studio lead guitarist Don Felder couldn’t quite remember a guitar hook he’d been experimenting with at home so asked his housekeeper to play the tape down the phone for him. This would become the basis for lead track “Hotel California“. Their first album with guitarist Joe Walsh topped the charts and won the band two Grammy Awards for title track and “New Kid in Town”. Three singles were released from the album, each reaching high in the Billboard Hot 100: “New Kid in Town” (number one), “Hotel California” (number one), and “Life in the Fast Lane” (number 11).
4. Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977) 43m
Steeply influenced by Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run, Bat Out of Hell combined the best elements of the urban rock opera and the musicianship of progressive-rock was not an immediate hit. In the US, Bat Out of Hell still sells about 200,000 copies a year and has sold an estimated 43 million copies worldwide, including 14 million in the United States alone. It stayed on the UK charts for 485 weeks; a feat surpassed only by the 522 weeks of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and is the best selling album of all time in Australia.
3. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) 45m
There hasn’t been another quite like it before or since its release, a concept album, its themes exploring conflict, greed, time, death, and mental illness, the latter partly inspired by the deteriorating health of founding member Syd Barrett. The Dark Side of the Moon reached number-one on the US Billboard chart and has charted for over 900 weeks in total. With estimated sales now standing at over 45 million copies. Some of the profits from the album were invested in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
2. AC/DC – Back In Black (1980) 50m
After singer Bon Scott went on a drinking binge and died of acute alcohol poisoning, the remaining members almost called it quits. Instead they recruited Brian Johnson to take over lead vocals and released Back in Black with an all-black cover in mourning for their lost bandmate. Produced by rock super-producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange who demanded perfection, it has sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide.
1. Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982) 66m
Jackson’s previous album Off the Wall (1979) had been a critical success, but he wasn’t happy. He was disappointed that it didn’t win a Grammy for Record of the Year and felt generally undervalued by the music industry. With 33m units sold in the US since 1982, Jackson’s sixth studio album won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984, including Album of the Year. The album produced seven singles — “The Girl Is Mine”, “Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”, “Human Nature”, “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”, and “Thriller” — all of which reached the top 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Thriller is estimated to have sold 66 million copies worldwide.