List of best-selling albums in the United Kingdom

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Colour photograph of all four members of Queen performing live in 1981.
Queen's Greatest Hits (1981) is the best-selling album in the UK. Their 1991 follow-up Greatest Hits II is the UK's tenth highest-selling album.

The best-selling album in the United Kingdom is Greatest Hits, a compilation album by British band Queen that was first released in 1981.[1] As of July 2016, it has sold more than 6.12 million copies,[2] of which approximately 124,000 have been from downloads.[3][4] Queen's second greatest hits album, Greatest Hits II, has sold approximately 4 million copies since being released in 1991, and is the tenth biggest-selling album in the UK.[1] These sales figures include 50% of sales of box sets containing both these albums and 33% of sales of box sets of all three Queen Greatest Hits albums.[5]

Of the UK's top 60 best-selling albums, more than half are by British artists.[1] Fourteen are by American artists, with the rest being from Ireland, Canada, Sweden and Jamaica.[6] Ten acts feature on the chart with more than one album, with Queen and Michael Jackson both featuring twice within the top ten.[1] The only acts to feature more than twice are Coldplay, Take That and Robbie Williams; Williams features on the chart four times, more than any other artist.[a] The most-represented record label is Parlophone with seven entries, while the decade that appears the most is the 2000s, with 20 of the entries having been released during that period, despite its "general background of declining sales and internet piracy".[6][8]

According to the Official Charts Company (OCC), which collects album sales data in the UK, an album is defined as being a type of music release that features more than four tracks or is longer than 25 minutes in duration.[9] Sales of albums in the UK were first published by the music magazine Record Mirror, who compiled a weekly chart of the country's five biggest-selling records for the week of 22 July 1956.[10] Record Mirror's first number one was Songs for Swingin' Lovers! by Frank Sinatra.[11] Since then, four albums have gone on to sell more than five million copies each: Greatest Hits by Queen, Gold: Greatest Hits by ABBA, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles and 21 by Adele.[12] The top nine best-selling albums have each sold at least four million copies.[13] Since 1994, sales of albums have been monitored by the OCC, who took over compiling the weekly UK Albums Chart.[14]

Sales certifications for albums are awarded by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipments, physical sales and downloads of albums, and, as of June 2015, streaming of album tracks.[15] The BPI began awarding certifications soon after it was founded in April 1973.[16] Initially, certifications were based on the revenue received by the album manufacturers – records that generated revenue of GB£75,000 were awarded silver certification, £150,000 represented gold and £1 million was platinum.[16] Over the following six years, the thresholds for silver and gold certifications both grew twice – the threshold for platinum certification remained at £1 million. In January 1979, this method of certifying sales was abolished, and certifications were instead based on unit sales to retail outlets: sales of 60,000 were awarded silver, gold for 100,000 and platinum for 300,000.[16] Multi-platinum awards were introduced in February 1987;[b] digital downloads have been counted towards unit sales since 2004.[17] Certifications for albums released before April 1973 were retroactively awarded in August 2013 for sales from 1994 onwards, and then again in February 2016 for all previous sales.[18] The highest-certified album is Greatest Hits, which has been awarded platinum certification 20 times, representing 6,000,000 units.[19]

Best-selling albums[edit]

Positions are as of July 2016;[1] sales, where shown, are from the reference given, which may be at a different date, and cannot be used to infer changes in position.

Best-selling albums in the UK
No. Album Artist Record label[c] Released[c] Chart
peak[c]
Sales[d] (as of date) No. of times
Platinum[e]
1 Greatest Hits Queen Parlophone October 1981 1 6,120,000 (Jul 2016)[2] 20×
2 Gold: Greatest Hits ABBA Polydor September 1992 1 5,300,000 (Jul 2016)[2] 17×
3 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles, TheThe Beatles Parlophone June 1967 1 5,160,000 (Jul 2016)[21] 17×
4 21 Adele XL January 2011 1 5,000,000 (Jan 2017)[12] 16×
5 (What's the Story) Morning Glory? Oasis Creation October 1995 1 4,700,000 (Jul 2016)[1] 14×
6 Thriller Jackson, MichaelMichael Jackson Epic November 1982 1 4,400,000 (Jul 2016)[22] 13×
7 Dark Side of the Moon, TheThe Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd Harvest March 1973 2 4,300,000 (Jul 2016)[22] 14×
8 Brothers in Arms Dire Straits Vertigo May 1985 1 4,300,000 (Jul 2016)[22] 14×
9 Bad Jackson, MichaelMichael Jackson Epic August 1987 1 4,000,000 (Jul 2016)[22] 13×
10 Greatest Hits II Queen Parlophone October 1991 1 3,990,000 (Jul 2016)[2] 13×
11 Rumours Fleetwood Mac Warner Bros. February 1977 1 3,800,000 (Feb 2017)[23] 11×
12 Immaculate Collection, TheThe Immaculate Collection Madonna Sire November 1990 1 3,700,000 (Jul 2016)[2] 12×
13 Back to Black Winehouse, AmyAmy Winehouse Island October 2006 1 3,816,658 (Mar 2017)[24] 12×
14 Stars Simply Red East West September 1991 1 3,410,000 (Oct 2015)[25] 12×
15 Come On Over Twain, ShaniaShania Twain Mercury March 1998 1 3,402,000 (Jul 2016)[26] 11×
16 Legend Marley and the Wailers, BobBob Marley and the Wailers Island/Tuff Gong May 1984 1 3,380,000 (July 2016)[2] 11×
17 Back to Bedlam Blunt, JamesJames Blunt Atlantic November 2004 1 3,338,000 (Jan 2017)[27] 11×
18 Urban Hymns Verve, TheThe Verve Hut September 1997 1 3,282,300+ (Sep 2016) 11×
19 Bat Out of Hell Meat Loaf Epic October 1977 9 3,282,300 (Sep 2016)[28] 10×
20 25 Adele XL November 2015 1 3,249,100 (Jan 2017)[12] 11×
21 1 Beatles, TheThe Beatles Apple November 2000 1 3,230,000 (Jul 2016)[2] 11×
22 Bridge over Troubled Water Simon & Garfunkel CBS January 1970 1 3,150,000+ (Jul 2016) 10×
23 Dirty Dancing Original soundtrack RCA August 1987 4 3,150,000 (Oct 2015)[25] 10×
24 Spirit Lewis, LeonaLeona Lewis Syco November 2007 1 3,138,700 (Jul 2016)[26] 10×
25 Crazy Love Bublé, MichaelMichael Bublé Reprise October 2009 1 3,095,100 (Oct 2016)[29] 10×
26 No Angel Dido Arista October 2000 1 3,088,700 (Jul 2016)[26] 10×
27 White Ladder Gray, DavidDavid Gray IHT/East West November 1998 1 3,017,000 (Nov 2016)[30] 10×
28 Talk on Corners Corrs, TheThe Corrs Atlantic October 1997 1 2,960,000 (Jan 2017)[31]
29 Spice Spice Girls Virgin November 1996 1 2,940,000 (Jul 2016)[32] 10×
30 Fame, TheThe Fame Lady Gaga Interscope January 2009 1 2,940,000 (Feb 2017)[33]
31 Only by the Night Kings of Leon Hand Me Down September 2008 1 2,916,800 (Oct 2016)[34]
32 Rush of Blood to the Head, AA Rush of Blood to the Head Coldplay Parlophone August 2002 1 2,909,750 (Jun 2016)[35]
33 Life for Rent Dido Cheeky September 2003 1 2,885,000 (Jul 2016)[26]
34 Beautiful World Take That Polydor November 2006 1 2,850,000 (Jul 2016)[36]
35 Hopes and Fears Keane Island May 2004 1 2,833,750 (Oct 2016)[37]
36 Joshua Tree, TheThe Joshua Tree U2 Island March 1987 1 2,790,000 (Oct 2015)[25]
37 War of the Worlds, TheThe War of the Worlds Wayne, JeffJeff Wayne Columbia June 1978 5 2,742,800+ (Jul 2016)
38 Scissor Sisters Scissor Sisters Polydor February 2004 1 2,742,800+ (Jul 2016)
39 ...But Seriously Collins, PhilPhil Collins Virgin November 1989 1 2,742,800+ (Jul 2016)
40 X&Y Coldplay Parlophone June 2005 1 2,742,800+ (Jul 2016)
41 Jagged Little Pill Morissette, AlanisAlanis Morissette Maverick June 1995 1 2,742,800 (Jul 2016)[26] 10×
42 Tubular Bells Oldfield, MikeMike Oldfield Virgin May 1973 1 2,687,500+ (Jul 2016)
43 Man Who, TheThe Man Who Travis Independiente May 1999 1 2,687,500 (May 2016)[38]
44 x Sheeran, EdEd Sheeran Asylum June 2014 1 2,675,600 (Mar 2017)[39] 10×
45 Tracy Chapman Chapman, TracyTracy Chapman Elektra April 1988 1 2,670,000 (Jan 2016)[40]
46 Parachutes Coldplay Parlophone July 2000 1 2,626,900 (May 2014)[41]
47 Greatest Hits ABBA Epic November 1975 1 2,606,000 (Jul 2016)[2]
48 Grease Original soundtrack RSO April 1978 1 2,586,500+ (Jul 2016)
49 I've Been Expecting You Williams, RobbieRobbie Williams Chrysalis October 1998 1 2,586,500 (May 2016)[42] 10×
50 Come Away with Me Jones, NorahNorah Jones Parlophone June 2002 1 2,556,650 (Oct 2016)[43]
51 Graceland Simon, PaulPaul Simon Warner Bros. August 1986 1 2,500,000+ (Jul 2016)
52 Sound of Music, TheThe Sound of Music Original soundtrack RCA Victor May 1965 1 2,500,000+ (Jul 2016)
53 Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of Michael, GeorgeGeorge Michael Epic November 1998 1 2,500,000 (Jan 2016)[44]
54 Tango in the Night Fleetwood Mac Warner Bros. April 1987 1 2,500,000 (Apr 2017)[45]
55 Marshall Mathers LP, TheThe Marshall Mathers LP Eminem Interscope June 2000 1 2,385,700+ (Jul 2016)
56 Swing When You're Winning Williams, RobbieRobbie Williams Chrysalis November 2001 1 2,385,700 (May 2016)[42]
57 Progress Take That Polydor November 2010 1 2,360,000+ (Jul 2016)
58 Eyes Open Snow Patrol Fiction May 2006 1 2,360,000+ (Jul 2016)
59 Never Forget – The Ultimate Collection Take That RCA November 2005 2 2,360,000 (Jul 2016)[2]
60 Automatic for the People R.E.M. Warner Bros. October 1992 1 2,350,000 (Jul 2016)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Williams features on the chart twice as a solo artist and twice as a member of Take That.[7]
  2. ^ As an example, a 2× Platinum certification would reflect 2 × 300,000 = 600,000 sales.
  3. ^ a b c The record labels, dates and chart peaks are those given by the OCC.[20]
  4. ^ Sales rounded to the nearest 100 where available; a more precise figure is given in the reference.
  5. ^ The certifications are those given by the BPI as of April 2017.[19]

References[edit]

General (chart positions)

Specific

  1. ^ a b c d e f Copsey, Rob (4 July 2016). "The UK's 60 official biggest selling albums of all time revealed". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 9 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Myers, Justin (12 July 2016). "Greatest of the greatest? The Top 10 biggest hits collections revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  3. ^ Jones, Alan (17 November 2014). "Official Charts analysis: Wake Me Up returns to singles summit as Children in Need charity track". Music Week. Intent Media. (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "Queen reach six million album sales in UK". BBC News. 11 February 2014. Archived from the original on 12 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Jones, Alan (19 September 2009). "How the All Time Charts were compiled". Music Week. 
  6. ^ a b "Queen retain UK album sales crown". BBC News. 9 April 2012. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Queen's greatest hits crowned as UK's biggest-selling album". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media. 5 July 2016. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Archived from the original on 6 July 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016. 
  8. ^ Murison, Krissi, ed. (9 April 2012). "'Queen's Greatest Hits' named biggest-selling UK album of all time". NME. IPC. ISSN 0028-6362. OCLC 317997735. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "Rules For Chart Eligibility – Albums" (PDF). Official Charts Company. May 2016. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  10. ^ Mawer, Sharon (2008). "1956". The Official UK Charts Company. Archived from the original on 8 March 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  11. ^ "Albums chart: 50 chart facts.". Music Week. 5 August 2006. Retrieved 15 July 2011. (Subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ a b c Gumble, Daniel (4 January 2017). "Adele's 21 breaks five million sales barrier". Music Week. Retrieved 4 January 2017. 
  13. ^ "Adele overtakes Dire Straits to become UK's sixth biggest selling album of all-time". Official Charts Company. 23 March 2012. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  14. ^ "Official UK Albums Top 100". Official Charts Company. 2010. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  15. ^ "About Us". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  16. ^ a b c "Certified Awards – A Timeline" (PDF). British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  17. ^ "Certified Awards". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  18. ^ "Beatles albums finally go platinum". BBC News. 2 September 2013. Archived from the original on 12 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Certified Awards". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  20. ^ "Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  21. ^ Myers, Justin (24 May 2017). "Sgt Pepper at 50: 12 awesome facts about The Beatles' iconic album". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  22. ^ a b c d Gumble, Daniel (5 July 2016). "UK's 60 Biggest Selling Albums of All Time". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  23. ^ Myers, Justin (24 February 2017). "Looking back at Fleetwood Mac's Rumours 40 years on". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  24. ^ "Official Charts Analysis: Ed Sheeran's ÷ commands another week at No.1 as sales top 197K". Music Week. 31 March 2017. 
  25. ^ a b c "Quiz: Who sold more?". Official Charts Company. 24 October 2015. 
  26. ^ a b c d e Jones, Alan (1 July 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: Adele's 25 back on top as sales surge 231%". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 2 July 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  27. ^ Homewood, Ben (23 January 2017). "James Blunt announces new album details". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  28. ^ Jones, Alan (16 September 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: Bastille top albums chart with Wild World". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 16 September 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  29. ^ Jones, Alan (27 October 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: Elvis tops the albums chart again". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 9 January 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  30. ^ Jones, Alan (4 November 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: Little Mix hold top spot on singles chart". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 4 November 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  31. ^ Copsey, Rob (5 January 2017). "20 classic albums that turn 20 years old in 2017". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 May 2017. 
  32. ^ Myers, Justin (14 July 2016). "Flashback: Looking back at Spice Girls' debut album 20 years on". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  33. ^ Myers, Justin (1 February 2017). "Lady Gaga's biggest songs and albums revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  34. ^ Jones, Alan (21 October 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: Kings of Leon score fifth No.1 album". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 9 January 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  35. ^ Hanley, James (20 June 2016). "Glastonbury 2016: Coldplay set to make history". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 20 December 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  36. ^ Myers, Justin (7 July 2016). "Flashback: Take That's comeback album Beautiful World is 10 years old". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  37. ^ Hanley, James (12 October 2016). "Tom Chaplin: "I thought I was about to drop dead"". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  38. ^ Jones, Alan (6 May 2016). "Official Chart Analysis: Drake's Views tops Official Albums chart". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 5 July 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  39. ^ Jones, Alan (17 March 2017). "Official Charts Analysis: Ed Sheeran's ÷ outsells rest of Top 75 for second week in a row". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 18 March 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  40. ^ Jones, Alan (29 January 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: Bowie album chart domination continues". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 29 January 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  41. ^ Jones, Alan (26 May 2014). "Official Charts Analysis: Coldplay LP sells 168k to set 2014 pace". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 9 June 2015. (Subscription required (help)). 
  42. ^ a b Sutherland, Mark (9 May 2016). "By the numbers: inside Robbie Williams' albums career". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  43. ^ Jones, Alan (14 October 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: Green Day claim top spot with Revolution Radio". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 15 October 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  44. ^ "George Michael on the charts". Music Week. Intent Media. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2017. 
  45. ^ "George Michael on the charts". Music Week. Intent Media. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 

External links[edit]