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Top 20 Greatest Selling Albums in Music History


In order to gain a spot on the list of the Top 20 greatest selling albums in
history a band needs to be internationally recognized and extremely popular all
over they world.  Here are the 20 most financially successful albums in musical

20. Celine Dion - Let’s Talk About Love

Worldwide Sales - 31 Million Copies +


Let’s Talk About Love is the 5th English-language album by Celine Dion and
was released on November 18, 1997. 
The most successful single from the
album was Titanic’s theme My Heart Will Go On, which reached the #1 spot all
over the world.  20 million units of Let’s Talk About Love were sold in its first
four months of release, including over 10 million in Europe.  The song
Celine Dion the only female recording artist to have two albums with more than
31 million copies sold. 

19. The Beatles - 1

Worldwide Sales - 31 Million Copies +


1 is a compilation album released by The Beatles on November 13, 2000.  The
album features virtually every #1 British and American hit single by the band
released from 1962 to 1970.  The record includes 27 Beatles songs.  It broke
numerous sales records.  The album sold 3.6 million units in its first week of
release, reaching #1 in over 35 countries.  It became the fastest-selling album
of all time and the highest-selling of this decade.  It made The Beatles the first
and only band to have the best-selling album of two separate decades (1960’s
with Sgt. Pepper).  In the UK, 1 became the bands 17th #1 album. 

18. Michael Jackson - Dangerous

Worldwide Sales - 32 Million Copies +


Dangerous is Michael Jackson’s 4th solo album and it was released on
November 26, 1991.  It became the second of Michael’s records to debut at
#1.  Dangerous has sold 25 million units in Europe and other areas of the
world, while only 7 million in the U.S.  It was the first album ever to spawn eight
consecutive UK Top 20 hits.  The album was produced by Quincy Jones,
Teddy Riley, and Bill Bottrell.  It spawned a worldwide concert tour, The
Dangerous Tour.  Dangerous sold very well in both Asia and South America,
which were two emerging and growing recording markets.  It features hit
singles Remember the Time, Heal the World, and Black or White. 

17. Mariah Carey - Music Box

Worldwide Sales - 32 Million Copies +


Music Box is the third studio album released by Mariah Carey.  It consists
of ballads co- written by Carey and Walter Afanasieff.  The record spawned
numerous hit singles, with Dreamlover becoming extremely successful in
America and Without You topping charts in the UK and several European
countries.  In the albums best week it sold 505,000 copies worldwide.  It
helped propel Mariah Carey onto the international music scene, where
she remains today.

16. Celine Dion - Falling Into You

Worldwide Sales - 32 Million Copies +


Falling Into You is Celine Dion’s 4th English album and twenty-first in total, as
Celine originally released French language records.  It was released on March
8, 1996.  The record gradually achieved major international success.  In 1997,
it became one of three albums to remain in the Top 10 on the U.S. charts for
an entire year.  The record combined many musical elements, including
orchestral frills, African chanting, and instruments like the violin, Spanish
guitar, trombone, the cavaquinho, saxophone, and numerous string
arrangements.  Falling Into You won Album of the Year at the 1997 Grammy
Awards.  It included numerous hit singles, including Because You Loved Me,
Falling Into You, and It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.

15. The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Worldwide Sales - 32 Million Copies +


Sgt. Pepper’s is the 8th studio album by The Beatles.  It was released on June
1, 1967.  The record was an instant success and extremely influential in the
emerging psychedelic rock age of music.  It i
ncorporates elements of music
hall, rock, western classical, and traditional Indian music.  The album spent 27
weeks on top of the UK charts, 15 weeks at #1 in the U.S. and topped
Australian charts for 30 weeks.  Almost all of the songs on the record are
written and composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, although Ringo
and Harrison both provide lead vocals on the album.  Sgt. Peppers Lonely
Hearts Club Band is one of the most creative and unique albums in history.  It
spawned the Beatles classic hits With a Little Help from My Friends, Lucy in
the Sky with Diamonds, and A Day in the Life.

14. Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill

Worldwide Sales - 33 Million Copies +


Jagged Little Pill was the third studio album released by Canadian singer Alanis
Morissette.  It was a break-through album and spent twelve non-consecutive
weeks at number one in the U.S.  In 1996, Jagged Little Pill became the best-
selling album of the year and had five hit singles, You Oughta Know, Ironic,
You Learn, Hand in My Pocket, and Head over Feet.  It was the second-best-
selling album of the 1990’s.  The record was extremely popular in Australia,
Belgium, Finland, France, Portugal, Sweden, and many other areas of the

13. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV 

Worldwide Sales - 37 Million Copies +


Led Zeppelin IV is the fourth studio album by English rock band Led Zeppelin
and was released on November 8, 1971.  It has no official title printed on the
album, but is generally referred to as
Led Zeppelin IV.  The record became one
of the greatest classic rock collections of all time.  It contained eight tracks
and included many hit singles, incuding 
Black Dog, Rock and Roll, Stairway to
Heaven, Misty Mountain Hop, Going to California, and When the Levee
Breaks.  The fourth album has sold over 23 million units in the U.S. alone.  It
stayed on the UK charts for 62 weeks.

12. Shania Twain - Come on Over

Worldwide Sales - 39 Million Copies +


Come on Over is the 3rd studio album by country singer Shania Twain.  It was
released on November 4, 1997.  Come on Over is the best-selling country
music album of all time.  Twelve singles were released from the album and
eleven were top five country hits in Canada.  The album was extremely
successful all over the world, especially the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Great
Britain.  It included hit singles Man! I Feel Like a Woman, You’re Still the One,
and From This Moment On.  Come on Over went on to become the biggest
selling album ever by a female artist and the biggest record of the 1990’s.

11. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Worldwide Sales - 40 Million Copies +


Rumours is the 11th album by British and American rock band Fleetwood Mac.
It was released on February 4, 1977 and was the second album recorded with
the newly formatted group, featuring lead vocalist Stevie Nicks.  Rumours went
on to win the Grammy for Record of the Year.  The album features numerous
hit singles, including Dreams, The Chain, and Don’t Stop.

10. Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack - Bee Gees

Worldwide Sales - 40 Million Copies +


The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack was released in November of 1977.  The
record helped to revive the phenomenon of disco in the U.S. and started a
national trend.  It is composed and performed primarily by The Bee Gees and
features numerous hit singles, including Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, and How
Deep is Your Love.  The record went on to win the Grammy Award for Album
of the Year.  The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack has become the third
highest selling soundtrack of all time.

9. Backstreet Boys - Millennium

Worldwide Sales - 40 Million Copies +


Millennium is the second studio album by The Backstreet Boys. It was released
on May 18, 1999 and was the group’s first record to be released in both the
U.S. and internationally at the same time.  The album holds the U.S. record for
yearly shipments, selling 11 million units in 1999.  It spawned four hit singles,
including I Want it That Way, Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely, and
Larger Than Life.  Millennium set records for the most albums sold in its debut
week and also most records sold internationally in one week with 2.2 million.
It was certified platinum in over 45 different countries.  

8. Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Phantom of the Opera

Worldwide Sales - 40 Million Copies +


The Phantom of the Opera is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the
French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux. The music was
composed by Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart and additional lyrics by
Richard Stilgoe.  The musical focuses on a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé,
who becomes the obsession of a mysterious and disfigured musical
mastermind, known as The Phantom of the Opera.  The show opened in
London's West End in 1986.  It is the second longest running musical in
England’s West End and the longest-running Broadway musical.  According to
sales numbers The Phantom of the Opera is the most successful entertainment
project in history, amassing an incredible $5 billion dollars worldwide.

7. The Bodyguard Soundtrack - Whitney Houston

Worldwide Sales - 42 Million Copies +


The Bodyguard soundtrack was released on November 17, 1992 and
featured six songs from Whitney Houston, as well as tracks from various
recording artists.  Whitney Houston’s cover of I Will Always Love You was an
instant #1 single.  Some other artists featured on the record include Kenny G,
Lisa Stransfield, and Joe Cocker.  It became the first album to sell more than a
million copies in a single week.  It also received the Grammy Award for Album
of the Year. 

6. Dirty Dancing Soundtrack

Worldwide Sales - 42 Million Copies +


The Dirty Dancing soundtrack was released on August 21, 1987.  The album
had many hit singles including Hungry Eyes by Eric Carmen, Be My Baby by
The Ronettes, and The Time of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.  It
spent 18 weeks on the top of U.S. charts and inspired a follow-up album
entitled More Dirty Dancing.  The album still re-enters the Irish charts on
occasion.  It has spent over 230 weeks in the Top 30 in Ireland.

Dirty Dancing Final Scene - Time of My Life

5. Eagles - Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)

Worldwide Sales - 42 Million Copies +


Their Greatest Hits is the fifth album by the rock band the Eagles.  It includes a
compilation of singles and was released February 17, 1976.  The years in the
album's title, 1971 to 1975, refer to the existence of the band itself, not the
release dates of the tracks.  It includes ten classic hits, including Take it Easy,
Lyin’ Eyes, Already Gone, Desperado, and Peaceful Easy Feeling.  The
Eagles music greatly influenced the genre of country-rock and paved the way
for numerous bands in the 1970’s.  Their Greatest Hits has sold 29 million
copies in the United States, making it the best-selling album of all time in the

4. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon

Worldwide Sales - 43 Million Copies +


The Dark Side of the Moon is the 6th studio album by English rock group Pink
Floyd.  It was released in March of 1973.  The record was an instant success
and spawned the singles, Money and Time.  The refracting prism cover art is
one of the most recognizable in rock music history.  Pink Floyd used some of
the most advanced recording techniques of the time, including multitrack
recording and tape loops.  Analogue synthesizers were also given prominence
in many tracks.  Founding member Syd Barrett had left the band in 1968, but is
credited as the author of the entire album's lyrics.

3. Meat Loaf - Bat out of Hell

Worldwide Sales - 43 Million Copies +

Bat out of Hell is the 2nd studio album released by Meat Loaf.  It was dropped
on October 21, 1977.  The main writer on the records production was Jim
Steinman.  It was developed from a musical, Neverland, which was a sci-fi
update of Peter Pan, which Steinman wrote for a workshop performed at the
Kennedy Center Music Theatre Lab in 1977.  Response to the album was
slow.  Australia and England were the first to gain an enthusiastic response
after some popular music video were releases.  Ultimately, the record stayed
on the United Kingdom charts for 474 weeks.  It continues to sell around
200,000 units each year.  The original release only had seven tracks on it,
including classics Bat out of Hell, All Revved Up with No Place to Go, and Two
out of Three Ain’t Bad.              

2. AC/DC - Back in Black

Worldwide Sales - 49 Million Copies +


Back in Black is the 7th studio album by Australian hard rock band AC/DC.  It
was released on July 25, 1980.  Back in Black was the first AC/DC album
recorded without former lead singer Bon Scott, who had died at the age of 33.
It is the best-selling album ever released by a band and has sold 22 million
units in the U.S. alone.  The album includes some of the group’s biggest hits
including Hells Bells, You Shook Me All Night Long, and the title track Back in
Black.  According to lead guitarist Angus Young the album's all-black cover was
a sign of mourning for Scott.  This record is widely considered the best hard
rock album ever created.

1. Michael Jackson - Thriller

Worldwide Sales - 110 Million Copies +


Thriller was Michael’s sixth studio album and was released on November 30,
1982 by Epic Records
.  The production budget for the record was $750,000
and Jackson wrote four of the tracks on the album. 
At its peak, the album was
selling a million copies a week worldwide.  Seven of the album's nine songs
were released as singles, and all reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The album won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984.  With Michael
Jackson’s death this year Thriller has sold millions more copies around the

Copyright The List Blog - Top 10, All Rights Reserved, Posted August 19, 2009