List of best-selling albums in the United States

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This is a list of the best-selling albums in the United States based on RIAA certification and Nielsen SoundScan sales tracking. The criteria are that the album must have been published (including self-publishing by the artist), and the album must have shipped at least 10 million units in the United States, achieving in RIAA terminology a diamond certification. Groupings are based on different sales benchmarks, the highest being for sales of at least 20 million copies, and the lowest being for multi-disc albums certified of 10–14 times platinum. Albums are listed in order of sales by greatest to lowest.

As a result of the RIAA's methodology of counting each disc in a multi-disc set as one unit toward certification, most double albums on the list—such as Pink Floyd's The Wall and Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below—have been certified with a number double the number of copies sold. Such albums have their "real" shipments indicated. Conversely, the certification level for double albums that fit onto one compact disc such as the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack reflect the actual number of copies sold. Some notable double LPs that would appear on this list if counted as two units are Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (8× Platinum) and Peter Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive! (8× Platinum).

The albums in this list are ordered first by number of copies sold, then by platinum awards received, and finally by artist name and album title.

Albums with two references for their estimated actual sales are those whose sales through BMG Music Club have been included.

Over 20 million copies[edit]

Year Artist Album Label Shipments (Sales) Certification[1][2]
1982 Jackson, MichaelMichael Jackson Thriller Epic 29,000,001 29× Platinum
1976 Eagles Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) Asylum 29,000,000 29× Platinum
1971 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV Atlantic 23,000,000 23× Platinum
1980 AC/DC Back in Black Atlantic 22,000,000 22× Platinum
1973 Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon Capitol (20,502,000)[3] 15× Platinum

Over 15 million copies[edit]

Year Artist Album Label Shipments (Sales) Certification[1]
1977 Fleetwood Mac Rumours Warner Bros. 19,000,000 19× Platinum
1987 Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction Geffen 18,000,000 18× Platinum
1997 Twain, ShaniaShania Twain Come On Over Mercury Nashville (17,537,000)[4][5] 20× Platinum
1976 Boston Boston Epic Records 17,000,000 17× Platinum
1990 Garth Brooks No Fences Capitol Nashville 17,000,000 17× Platinum
1976 Eagles Hotel California Asylum 16,000,000 16× Platinum
1974 John, EltonElton John Greatest Hits Polydor 16,000,000 16× Platinum
1994 Hootie & the Blowfish Cracked Rear View Atlantic 16,000,000 16× Platinum
1991 Metallica Metallica Elektra (15,948,000)[5] 16× Platinum
1995 Morissette, AlanisAlanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill Maverick (15,245,000)[4][5] 16× Platinum
1988 Journey Greatest Hits Columbia 15,000,000 15× Platinum
1977 Soundtrack / Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever RSO 15,000,000 15× Platinum
1984 Springsteen, BruceBruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. Columbia 15,000,000 15× Platinum

Over 10 million copies[edit]

Year Artist Album Label Shipments (Sales) Certification[1]
1978 John Travolta / Olivia Newton-John / Various artists Grease RSO (14,000,000)[6] 8× Platinum
(as of 1984)
1997 Backstreet Boys Backstreet Boys Jive 14,000,000 14× Platinum
1999 Britney Spears ...Baby One More Time Jive 14,000,000 14× Platinum
1991 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks Ropin' the Wind Capitol Nashville 14,000,000 14× Platinum
1977 Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell Epic Records 14,000,000 14× Platinum
1972 Simon & Garfunkel Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits Columbia 14,000,000 14× Platinum
1999 Backstreet Boys Millennium Jive (13,831,000)[4][5] 13× Platinum
(as of 2001)
1984 Marley & The Wailers, BobBob Marley & The Wailers Legend Island (13,458,000)[7] 10× Platinum
1992 Soundtrack / Whitney Houston The Bodyguard Arista (13,395,000)[4][5] 17× Platinum
1979 Pink Floyd The Wall Columbia/Capitol (13,381,000)[8] 23× Platinum
1999 Santana Supernatural Arista (13,052,000)[4][5] 15× Platinum
1984 Prince and the Revolution Purple Rain Warner Bros. 13,000,000 13× Platinum
1978 Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits 1974–78 Capitol 13,000,000 13× Platinum
1985 Houston, WhitneyWhitney Houston Whitney Houston Arista 13,000,000 13× Platinum
2000 'N Sync No Strings Attached Jive (12,672,000)[4][5] 11× Platinum
(as of 2001)
2000 Beatles, TheThe Beatles 1 Capitol (12,281,000)[5] 11× Platinum
(as of 2010)
2000 Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP Aftermath (12,169,000)[4][9] 10x Platinum
(as of 2011)
1969 Beatles, TheThe Beatles Abbey Road Apple 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1986 Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet Mercury Records 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1994 Boyz II Men II Motown 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1987 Def Leppard Hysteria Mercury Records 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1998 Dixie Chicks Wide Open Spaces Monument 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1995 Jewel Pieces of You Atlantic 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1992 Kenny G Breathless Arista 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1980 Rogers, KennyKenny Rogers Greatest Hits Liberty 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1969 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II Atlantic 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1996 Matchbox Twenty Yourself or Someone Like You Atlantic 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1985 Collins, PhilPhil Collins No Jacket Required Atlantic 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1995 Twain, ShaniaShania Twain The Woman in Me Mercury Nashville 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1996 Dion, CelineCeline Dion Falling into You Epic Records (11,799,000)[4][10] 11× Platinum
(as of 2001)
1999 Creed Human Clay Wind-up Records (11,674,000)[5] 11× Platinum
(as of 2004)
1985 Joel, BillyBilly Joel Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II Columbia 11,500,000 23× Platinum
1997 Soundtrack Titanic Epic Records (11,146,000)[4][6] 11× Platinum
1980 Aerosmith Greatest Hits Columbia 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1967 Beatles, TheThe Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Capitol 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1982 Eagles Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 Asylum 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1998 Kid Rock Devil Without a Cause Atlantic Records 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1973 Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy Atlantic 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1987 Soundtrack Dirty Dancing RCA 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1976 Taylor, JamesJames Taylor Greatest Hits Warner Bros. 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1994 TLC CrazySexyCool LaFace 11,000,000 11× Platinum
2002 Jones, NorahNorah Jones Come Away with Me Blue Note (10,910,000)[10] 10× Platinum
(as of 2005)
2000 Linkin Park Hybrid Theory Warner Bros. (10,889,000)[4][11] 10× Platinum
(as of 2005)
2011 Adele 21 Columbia/XL (10,857,000)[12] 10× Platinum
(as of 2012)
1997 Dion, CelineCeline Dion Let's Talk About Love Epic Records (10,711,000)[4][10] 10× Platinum
(as of 1999)
1998 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks Double Live Capitol Nashville 10,500,000 21× Platinum
2000 Spears, BritneyBritney Spears Oops!... I Did It Again Jive (10,404,000)[4][13] 10× Platinum
(as of 2005)
1991 Nirvana Nevermind DGC Records (10,284,000)[4][10] 10× Platinum
2002 Eminem The Eminem Show Aftermath (10,098,000)[9] 10× Platinum
(as of 2011)
2004 Usher Confessions Arista (10,017,000)[9] 10× Platinum
(as of 2008)
1991 Pearl Jam Ten Epic Records (10,001,000)[14] 13× Platinum
1977 Joel, BillyBilly Joel The Stranger Columbia 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1971 King, CaroleCarole King Tapestry ODE 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1983 Def Leppard Pyromania Mercury Records 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1999 Dixie Chicks Fly Monument Records 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1976 Doobie Brothers Best of The Doobies Warner Bros. 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1985 Doors, TheThe Doors The Best of The Doors Elektra 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1970 Elvis Presley Elvis' Christmas Album
(budget reissue of 1957 LP with altered track listing)
RCA Camden/Pickwick 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1992 Clapton, EricEric Clapton Unplugged Reprise Records 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1989 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks Garth Brooks Capitol 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1994 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks The Hits Liberty Records 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1997 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks Sevens Capitol Records 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1987 Michael, GeorgeGeorge Michael Faith Columbia 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1983 Richie, LionelLionel Richie Can't Slow Down Motown 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1990 Madonna The Immaculate Collection Sire 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1984 Madonna Like a Virgin Sire 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1995 Carey, MariahMariah Carey Daydream Columbia 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1993 Carey, MariahMariah Carey Music Box Columbia 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1990 MC Hammer Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em Capitol 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1998 'N Sync *NSYNC RCA 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1995 No Doubt Tragic Kingdom Trauma/Interscope Records 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1967 Cline, PatsyPatsy Cline Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits Decca 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1994 Soundtrack The Lion King Walt Disney Records 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1993 Petty and the Heartbreakers, TomTom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits MCA 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1976 Wonder, StevieStevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life Motown 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1987 U2 The Joshua Tree Island 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1984 Van Halen 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) Warner Bros. 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1978 Van Halen Van Halen Warner Bros. 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1983 ZZ Top Eliminator Warner Bros. 10,000,000 10× Platinum

Less than 10 million copies[edit]

Year Artist Album Label Shipments (Sales) Certification[1]
1968 Beatles, TheThe Beatles The Beatles Capitol 9,500,000 19× Platinum
1994 Green Day Dookie Reprise Records (9,342,000)[4][15] 10× Platinum
1973 Beatles, TheThe Beatles 1967-1970 Capitol 8,500,000 17× Platinum
1973 Beatles, TheThe Beatles 1962–1966 Capitol 7,500,000 15× Platinum
1972 Rolling Stones, TheThe Rolling Stones Hot Rocks 1964–1971 London 6,000,000 12× Platinum
1994 Soundtrack Forrest Gump Epic Records 6,000,000 12× Platinum
2003 Outkast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below LaFace, Arista 5,500,000 11× Platinum
2002 Avril Lavigne Let Go Arista 6,870,000 6× Platinum
2003 Evanescence Fallen Wind Up 7,600,000 7× Platinum
2002 Twain, ShaniaShania Twain Up! Mercury Nashville 5,500,000 11× Platinum
1998 2Pac Greatest Hits Interscope 5,000,000 10x Platinum
1980 Doors, TheThe Doors The Doors Greatest Hits Elektra 5,000,000 5× Platinum
1997 The Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death Bad Boy Records/Arista 5,000,000 10× Platinum
1995 The Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness Virgin 5,000,000 10× Platinum
1986 Springsteen, BruceBruce Springsteen Live/1975–85 Columbia 4,333,333 13× Platinum
1990 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin Boxed Set Atlantic Records 2,500,000 10× Platinum

Notes[edit]

  • Only includes sales tracked by Nielsen SoundScan since March 1, 1991 and BMG Music Club sales, where available.[16]

When tracking began, Nielsen SoundScan only had about 40% coverage of album sales.[17] SoundScan initially did not track albums sold in supermarkets, and never tracked those sold through mail-order music clubs such as Columbia House or BMG Music Club.[18][19]

  • As calculated by adding highest RIAA certification up to 1991 and sales tracked by Nielsen SoundScan since 1991.


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d [1]
  2. ^ "RIAA Diamond Awards". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  3. ^ Grein, Paul (May 1, 2013). "Week Ending April 28, 2013. Albums: Snoop Lamb Is More Like It". Nielsen SoundScan. Yahoo! Music. "9,502,000 total copies since 1991" + 11× Platinum in 1990 = 20,502,000 copies. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n David, Barry (2003-02-18). "Shania, Backstreet, Britney, Eminem And Janet Top All Time Sellers". Bertelsmann Music Group. New York: Music Industry News Network. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "NIELSEN & BILLBOARD’S 2013 U.S. MUSIC REPORT". Nielsen Holdings. January 7, 2014. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved January 21, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Paul Grein (November 21, 2012). "Week Ending Nov. 18, 2012. Albums: Xtina Slips Despite "The Voice"". Chart Watch (Yahoo Music). "6 million mark in Nielsen SoundScan era sales" + 8× Platinum in 1984 = 14,000,000 copies. Retrieved November 21, 2012. 
  7. ^ "NIELSEN & BILLBOARD’S 2013 U.S. MUSIC REPORT". Nielsen Holdings. January 7, 2014. "LEGEND 11,458,000" + 2× Platinum in 1990 = 13,260,000 copies. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved January 21, 2014. 
  8. ^ Grein, Paul (August 29, 2008). "Chart Watch Extra: Vintage Albums That Just Keep On Selling". Nielsen SoundScan. Yahoo! Music. "5,381,000 copies [since 1991]" + 8× Platinum in 1991 = 13,381,000 copies. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c Grein, Paul (2012-08-22). "Week Ending Aug. 19, 2012. Albums: Marley In Top 20". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  10. ^ a b c d Grein, Paul (2013-02-20). "Week Ending Feb. 17, 2013. Albums: Mumford’s Grammy Surge". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2013-02-21. 
  11. ^ Grein, Paul (2013-03-20). "Week Ending March 17, 2013. Albums: Bon Jovi Bests Bowie". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  12. ^ Grein, Paul (2014-01-15). "Chart Watch: "Frozen" Brings The Heat". Yahoo Music. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  13. ^ Grein, Paul (2012-05-16). "Chart Watch Extra: Following Up A Monster". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  14. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2013-02-20). "Pearl Jam's 'Ten' Hits 10 Million in U.S. Sales". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  15. ^ Grein, Paul (2012-01-18). "Week Ending Jan. 15, 2012. Albums: Good News and Bad News". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  16. ^ "Get Your Mind Right: Underground Vs. Mainstream". Cheri Media Group. 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  17. ^ Mael (2009-12-14). "Soundscan (US) Top 50 Album Artists Of The Decade". For Elvis CD Collectors. Retrieved 2013-02-21. 
  18. ^ Christman, Ed (1996-04-06). Billboard Vol. 108, No. 14 – Retail Street-Date Violations Cloud ‘Anthology’ Releases. Billboard. Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  19. ^ Vaidhyanathan, Siva (2011-05-11). The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control Is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System. Basic Books. p. 202. Retrieved 2013-06-05. 

External links[edit]