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 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. As of February 2014, it has sold more than 6 million copies, of which approximately 124,000 have been from downloads.[1] Queen's second greatest hits album, Greatest Hits II, has sold approximately 3.89 million copies since being released in 1991, and is the tenth biggest-selling album in the UK.[2] Of the UK's top 40 best-selling albums, more than half are by British artists.[3] Nine are by American artists, with the rest being from Ireland, Canada, Sweden and Jamaica.[4] Five acts—The Beatles, Coldplay, Dido, Michael Jackson and Queen—feature on the chart with more than one album, with Jackson and Queen both featuring twice within the top ten.[2] The most-represented record label is Parlophone with five entries, while the decade that appears the most is the 2000s, with 14 of the entries having been released during that period, despite its "general background of declining sales and internet piracy".[3][4]

According to the British organisation the Official Charts Company (OCC), an album is defined as being a type of music release that features more than four tracks and is longer than 25 minutes in duration.[5] Sales of albums in the UK were first published on 28 July 1956 by the music magazine Record Mirror, who compiled a weekly chart of the country's five biggest-selling records.[6] Record Mirror's first number one was Songs for Swingin' Lovers! by Frank Sinatra.[7] Since then, three albums have gone on to sell more than five million copies each: Greatest Hits by Queen, Gold: Greatest Hits by ABBA and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles.[8] The top eight best-selling albums have each sold at least four million copies.[9] Since 1994, sales of albums have been monitored by the OCC, who took over compiling the weekly UK Albums Chart.[10]

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.[11] The BPI began awarding certifications soon after it was founded in April 1973.[12] Initially, certifications were based on the revenue received by the album manufacturers – records that generated revenue of £75,000 were awarded silver certification, £150,000 represented gold and £1 million was platinum.[12] 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.[12] Multi-platinum awards were introduced in February 1987;[a] digital downloads have been counted towards unit sales since 2004.[13] 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.[14] The highest-certified album is Greatest Hits, which has been awarded platinum certification 20 times, representing 6,000,000 units.[15]

Best-selling albums[edit]

Positions are as of February 2014;[2] 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[b] Released[b] Chart
peak[b]
Sales[c] (as of date) No. of times
Platinum[d]
1 Greatest Hits Queen Parlophone October 1981 1 6,100,000 (Nov 2014)[17] 20×
2 Gold: Greatest Hits ABBA Polydor September 1992 1 5,100,000 (May 2013)[18] 17×
3 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles, TheThe Beatles Parlophone June 1967 1 5,100,000 (May 2013)[18] 17×
4 21 Adele XL January 2011 1 4,800,000 (Nov 2015)[19] 16×
5 (What's the Story) Morning Glory? Oasis Creation October 1995 1 4,600,000 (May 2013)[20] 14×
6 Thriller Jackson, MichaelMichael Jackson Epic November 1982 1 4,270,000 (May 2012)[21] 13×
7 Dark Side of the Moon, TheThe Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd Harvest March 1973 2 4,240,000 (Nov 2014)[17] 14×
8 Brothers in Arms Dire Straits Vertigo May 1985 1 4,410,000 (Feb 2015)[22] 14×
9 Bad Jackson, MichaelMichael Jackson Epic August 1987 1 3,960,000 (Feb 2012)[23] 13×
10 Greatest Hits II Queen Parlophone October 1991 1 3,890,000 (Feb 2014)[2] 13×
11 Immaculate Collection, TheThe Immaculate Collection Madonna Sire November 1990 1 3,660,000 (Oct 2014)[24] 12×
12 Rumours Fleetwood Mac Warner Bros. February 1977 1 3,437,700 (Mar 2013)[25] 11×
13 Back to Black Winehouse, AmyAmy Winehouse Island October 2006 1 3,590,000 (Oct 2015)[26] 12×
14 Stars Simply Red East West September 1991 1 3,410,000 (Oct 2015)[26] 12×
15 Come On Over Twain, ShaniaShania Twain Mercury March 1998 1 3,390,000 (Oct 2015)[26] 11×
16 Back to Bedlam Blunt, JamesJames Blunt Atlantic November 2004 1 3,310,000 (Mar 2015)[27] 11×
17 Urban Hymns Verve, TheThe Verve Hut September 1997 1 3,270,000 (Oct 2015)[26] 10×
18 Legend Bob Marley and the Wailers Island/Tuff Gong May 1984 1 2,830,000 (Jun 2009)[28] 11×
19 Bat Out of Hell Meat Loaf Epic October 1977 9 3,040,000 (Mar 2012)[29] 10×
20 Bridge Over Troubled Water Simon & Garfunkel CBS January 1970 1 3,160,000 (Nov 2014)[30] 10×
21 Spirit Lewis, LeonaLeona Lewis Syco November 2007 1 3,120,000 (Oct 2015)[26] 10×
22 Dirty Dancing Original soundtrack RCA August 1987 4 3,150,000 (Oct 2015)[26]
23 No Angel Dido Cheeky October 2000 1 3,080,000 (Mar 2015)[27] 10×
24 1 Beatles, TheThe Beatles Apple November 2000 1 3,120,000 (Nov 2015)[31] 10×
25 Crazy Love Bublé, MichaelMichael Bublé Reprise October 2009 1 3,040,000 (Dec 2013)[32] 10×
26 White Ladder Gray, DavidDavid Gray IHT/East West November 1998 1 2,910,000 (Jun 2009)[28] 10×
27 Talk on Corners Corrs, TheThe Corrs Atlantic October 1997 1 2,950,000 (Jun 2009)[28]
28 Spice Spice Girls Virgin November 1996 1 2,930,000 (Jun 2009)[28] 10×
29 Fame, TheThe Fame Lady Gaga Interscope January 2009 1 2,890,000 (Sep 2014)[33]
30 Rush of Blood to the Head, AA Rush of Blood to the Head Coldplay Parlophone August 2002 1 2,880,000 (May 2014)[34]
31 Life for Rent Dido Cheeky September 2003 1 2,880,000 (Jul 2011)[35]
32 Only by the Night Kings of Leon Hand Me Down September 2008 1 2,810,000 (Sep 2013)[36]
33 Beautiful World Take That Polydor November 2006 1 2,820,000 (Jul 2011)[35]
34 Hopes and Fears Keane Island May 2004 1 2,760,000 (Jul 2011)[35]
35 Joshua Tree, TheThe Joshua Tree U2 Island March 1987 1 2,790,000 (Oct 2015)[26]
36 Scissor Sisters Scissor Sisters Polydor February 2004 1 2,730,000 (Jun 2012)[37]
37 ...But Seriously Collins, PhilPhil Collins Virgin November 1989 1 2,740,000 (Jun 2009)[28]
38 X&Y Coldplay Parlophone June 2005 1 2,730,000 (May 2014)[38]
39 Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of
The War of the Worlds
Wayne, JeffJeff Wayne CBS June 1978 5 2,560,000 (Jun 2009)[28]
40 Jagged Little Pill Morissette, AlanisAlanis Morissette Maverick June 1995 1 2,710,000 (Feb 2015)[39] 10×

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As an example, a 2× Platinum certification would reflect 2 × 300,000 = 600,000 sales.
  2. ^ a b c The record labels, dates and chart peaks are those given by the OCC.[16]
  3. ^ Sales rounded to the nearest 10,000 where a more precise figure given in reference.
  4. ^ The certifications are those given by the BPI as of January 2016.[15]

References[edit]

General (chart positions)
Specific
  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kreisler, Lauren (11 February 2014). "Queen's Greatest Hits becomes first album to sell 6 million copies in the UK". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 12 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b 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. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "Rules For Chart Eligibility – Albums" (PDF). Official Charts Company. January 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 June 2007. Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  6. ^ Mawer, Sharon (2008). "1956". The Official UK Charts Company. Archived from the original on 8 March 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "Albums chart: 50 chart facts.". Music Week. 5 August 2006. ISSN 0265-1548. OCLC 60620772. Retrieved 15 July 2011. ... The first number one album – Songs For Swingin' Lovers by Frank Sinatra ... 
  8. ^ Kreisler, Laura (18 May 2012). "ABBA join The Beatles and Queen in 5 million sellers' club". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 18 May 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ "Official UK Albums Top 100". Official Charts Company. 2010. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "About Us". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c "Certified Awards – A Timeline" (PDF). British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  13. ^ "Certified Awards". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  14. ^ "Beatles albums finally go platinum". BBC News. Archived from the original on 12 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Certified Awards". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  16. ^ "Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  17. ^ a b 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)). 
  18. ^ a b Bychawski, Adam (19 May 2013). "ABBA's 'Gold' overtakes' 'Sgt. Pepper's' to become UK's second biggest selling album of all time". NME. 
  19. ^ "Adele's 25 album records one of the biggest first day UK sales total ever". Official Charts Company. 21 November 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015. 
  20. ^ Lane, Dan (19 May 2013). "ABBA overtake The Beatles to score UK’s second biggest selling album". Official Charts Company. 
  21. ^ Crookes, Del (4 May 2012). "Adele's 21 overtakes sales of Thriller in UK album list". BBC. 
  22. ^ Jones, Alan (9 February 2015). "Official Charts Analysis: Ellie Goulding knocks Uptown Funk! from singles top spot with sales of 172,368". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 16 November 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  23. ^ Lane, Dan (February 28, 2012). "Adele overtakes Michael Jackson in all-time biggest selling albums chart". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  24. ^ Jones, Alan (October 27, 2014). "Official Charts Analysis: Trainor matches Clean Bandit for longest-running No.1 single of 2014". Music Week. Retrieved October 27, 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  25. ^ Jones, Alan (4 February 2013). "Official Charts Analysis: Biffy first Scottish band for 6 years to score No.1 album". Music Week (Intent Media). Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  26. ^ a b c d e f g "Quiz: Who sold more?". Official Charts Company. 24 October 2015. 
  27. ^ a b Moss, Liv (19 March 2015). "Official Biggest Selling Albums of the Millennium so far revealed!". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f "Top 40 Best Selling Albums UK" (PDF). BPI. June 2009. 
  29. ^ Jones, Alan (5 March 2012). "Official Chart Analysis: Sande thrives in Scotland, Ed Sheeran album tops 1m sales in UK". Music Week. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  30. ^ Jones, Alan (November 3, 2014). "Official Charts Analysis: Taylor Swift tops albums with 90,336 sales of 1989". Music Week. Retrieved November 17, 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  31. ^ Jones, Alan (13 November 2015). "Official Airplay Analysis: Elvis sees sales increase by 12.1% to stay atop on albums". Music Week (Intent Media). Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  32. ^ Jones, Alan (29 December 2013). "Official Charts Analysis: Pharrell Williams hits No.1 with 106k sales". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  33. ^ Patkinson, Tom (29 September 2014). "Official Charts Analysis: alt-J's This Is All Yours secures No.1 album slot on 30,947 sales". Music Week (Intent Media). Retrieved 19 May 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  34. ^ Jones, Alan (26 May 2014). "Official Charts Analysis: Coldplay LP sells 168k to set 2014 pace". Music Week (Intent Media). Retrieved 14 November 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  35. ^ a b c Jones, Alan (24 July 2011). "Adele still on top but UK album sales fall to 13-year low". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  36. ^ Jones, Alan (30 September 2013). "Official Charts Analysis: Kings of Leon LP sells 71k in week one". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  37. ^ Jones, Alan (3 June 2012). "Official Charts Analysis: Gary Barlow LP sells 40k". Music Week (Intent Media). Retrieved 9 June 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  38. ^ 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)). 
  39. ^ Jones, Alan (February 16, 2015). "Official Charts Analysis: Ellie Goulding's Love Me Like You Do holds onto No.1 with sales of 118,225". Music Week (Intent Media). Retrieved November 6, 2015. (subscription required (help)). 

External links[edit]