Table of Contents
Just to be clear, an album selling a crazy amount doesn’t necessarily make it the best. There are preferences to take into account, personal taste, and much more. With that being said, some albums sold so well as to completely defy expectations. You probably think you already know which the best-selling albums are, but let’s take a close look and see if you’re right.
These are the best-selling albums in history.
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson sits in the Hall of Fame for having the hottest-selling album of all time. In fact, it’s unlikely that another album will even come close to being as popular. When Thriller dropped in 1982 it took the world by storm, climbing to the top of the charts in virtually every country in the world. The grand total? Somewhere around 70 million sold.
Though, this also isn’t difficult to believe. Thriller houses smash-hits like The Girl Is Mine, Billie Jean, and Beat It. If you don’t know someone that still listens to these songs regularly today, it’s probably because you’re the one listening to them. Jackson never did hit the same level of profound success, but did come close a few times. Either way, Thriller isn’t just top of this list, it looks down at all other entries from a position of dominance.
Back In Black – AC/DC
AC/DC, in the second spot? Yes, astoundingly it’s AC/DC sitting in second place with 50 million albums sold. On the other hand, look at the list of hits, You Shook Me All Night Long and Hells Bells, and the numbers start to make more sense. These are songs still listened to regularly, which really is the key to success. Or to put it another way, 50 million is counting all records sold, up to this very day.
Even still, 50 million is an outrageously high number. Though if you think AC/DC being second on the list is strange, wait until you see the number 3 position.
The Bodyguard Soundtrack
Remember that movie The Bodyguard? Sure you do, the one where Kevin Costner is Whitney Houston’s bodyguard. A so-so movie releasing to moderate success in 1992, but quickly forgotten. Well, the movie may have been forgotten, but the soundtrack sold like hotcakes for years. How well did it sell? How about a stunning 45 million copies?
Yes, it’s a little bewildering that it sold better than some of the other, far more classic albums on this list. But that’s the world of entertainment for you.
The Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd
To be fair, you probably expected this one. Also to be fair, it sits more or less even with The Bodyguard Soundtrack, and some estimate that it’s actually ahead. Sales numbers are a little sketchy back in the 70s.
Either way, Dark Side Of The Moon is officially pegged at 45 million copies sold. If you think you don’t know Dark Side Of The Moon, you probably do. It’s just likely you didn’t know where all that catchy, chilled music came from. To put it another way, when you’re chilling out at 2 AM playing casino games at Black Lotus casino, listening to relaxed music, it’s probably Dark Side Of The Moon.
Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) – Eagles
Interestingly, this was the greatest-selling album of all time. Until Thriller and The Bodyguard came along. Also interestingly, this is the first official Greatest Hits album ever released. The Eagles were phenomenally popular already, then took things to the next level putting all their hottest songs on a single album. A good idea, especially since the album sold around 45 million.
If you haven’t already thought of it, yes there is some hot debate as to which of the 3 above albums are really in third place. We repeat; actual sales numbers in the 70s are very difficult to come by. Especially since hype machines often took over and started declaring new sales targets without any real information backing up the claims.
Bat Out Of Hell – Meat Loaf
Surprised to see Meat Loaf on here? So are we. But if you were alive in the early 90s you’ll know that this album was absolutely everywhere. At least, it was everywhere if you were in the United States or the United Kingdom.
Bat Out Of Hell flew to the top of the sales charts and help the top position for months. It was a fairly short-lived major success for Meatloaf, but the band did manage to sell 43 million albums in the process.
Hotel California – Eagles
Yes, the Eagles are back. Hotel California is only a few million behind Greatest Hits, but then many of the songs from Hotel California aren’t on Greatest Hits. Either way, the Eagles sure did tear up the radio in the 70s, especially when they managed to knock it out of the park in virtually every year between 70 and 79.
Yes, the album also took home a few Grammy Awards. But even if it hadn’t, chances are this would have been another homerun for one of the biggest bands in history.
Come On Over – Shania Twain
At last, we’re out of the 70s and 80s and into the 90s. But did you expect it to be Shania Twain in this position? Of course you did, once you realised that this is where the song You Don’t Impress Me Much comes from. Shania Twain absolutely dominated the 90s in Canada and the United States, selling so fast that for a time it seemed like no one was listening to anything else.
Even still, only 40 million copies sold. Far behind the heavy hitters. Then again, who can possibly hope to compare with the King of Pop? Or The Bodyguard.
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
Right back to the 70s again, we have Fleetwood Mac to round off our list. A little surprising, given that Fleetwood Mac isn’t nearly as well-known as other bands on this list, but they sure did end the 70s with a bang. Rumours sold 40 million copies, dramatically more than expected.