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 achieved at least a diamond certification from the RIAA. The albums released prior to March 1991 should be included with their certified units only, because their Nielsen SoundScan sales are not complete.

Since February 2016, album certifications include "on-demand audio and video streams and a track sale equivalent" units.[1]

Groupings are based on different benchmarks; the highest being for at least 20 million units, and the lowest being for multi-disc albums certified at least 10 times platinum and single-disc albums that have been certified at least 10 times platinum but with sales figures lower than 10,000,000. Albums are listed in order of units certified, or sales figures when available, by greatest to least.

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 the shipments of copies, not discs, 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.

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

Albums with two references for their estimated actual sales include sales through BMG Music Club. Albums with three references for their estimated actual sales include sales through BMG Music Club and Columbia House.

More than 20 million copies[edit]

Year Artist Album Label Shipments (Sales) Certification[2][3]
1982 Jackson, MichaelMichael Jackson Thriller Epic 33,000,000 33× 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
1977 Fleetwood Mac Rumours Warner Bros. 20,000,000 20× Platinum

15–19 million copies[edit]

Year Artist Album Label Shipments (Sales) Certification[2]
1987 Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction Geffen 18,000,000 18× Platinum
1997 Twain, ShaniaShania Twain Come On Over Mercury Nashville (17,661,500)[4][5] 20× Platinum
1974 John, EltonElton John Greatest Hits Polydor 17,000,000 17× Platinum
1976 Boston Boston Epic Records 17,000,000 17× Platinum
1990 Garth Brooks No Fences Capitol Nashville 17,000,000 17× Platinum
1991 Metallica Metallica Elektra (16,400,000)[6] 16× Platinum
1976 Eagles Hotel California Asylum 16,000,000 16× Platinum
1977 Soundtrack / Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever RSO 16,000,000 16× Platinum
1995 Morissette, AlanisAlanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill Maverick (15,350,000)[4][7] 16× Platinum
1973 Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon Harvest/Capitol 15,000,000 15× Platinum
(as of 1998)
1984 Marley & The Wailers, BobBob Marley & The Wailers Legend Island 15,000,000 15× Platinum
1984 Springsteen, BruceBruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A. Columbia 15,000,000 15× Platinum
1988 Journey Greatest Hits Columbia 15,000,000 15× Platinum

10–14 million copies[edit]

Year Artist Album Label Shipments (Sales) Certification[2]
1994 Hootie & the Blowfish Cracked Rear View Atlantic (14,580,000)[4][8][9] 16× Platinum
1972 Simon & Garfunkel Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits Columbia 14,000,000 14× Platinum
1977 Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell Epic Records 14,000,000 14× Platinum
1978 Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits 1974–78 Capitol 14,000,000 14× Platinum
1999 Backstreet Boys Millennium Jive (13,890,000)[4][10] 13× Platinum
1992 Soundtrack / Whitney Houston The Bodyguard Arista (13,450,000)[4][11] 18× Platinum
1999 Santana Supernatural Arista (13,110,000)[4][11] 15× Platinum
1984 Prince and the Revolution Purple Rain Warner Bros. 13,000,000 13× Platinum
1985 Houston, WhitneyWhitney Houston Whitney Houston Arista 13,000,000 13× Platinum
2000 Beatles, TheThe Beatles 1 Apple/EMI/Capitol (12,800,000)[12] 11× Platinum
(as of 2010)
2000 NSYNC No Strings Attached Jive (12,680,000)[4][11] 11× Platinum
2000 Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP Aftermath (12,540,000)[4][10] 10× Platinum
(as of 2011)
1999 Britney Spears ...Baby One More Time Jive (12,200,000)[4][10] 14× Platinum
1969 Beatles, TheThe Beatles Abbey Road Apple 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1969 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II Atlantic 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1980 Rogers, KennyKenny Rogers Greatest Hits Liberty 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1985 Collins, PhilPhil Collins No Jacket Required Atlantic 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1986 Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet Mercury Records 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1987 Def Leppard Hysteria Mercury Records 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1992 Kenny G Breathless Arista 12,000,000 12× Platinum
1997 Backstreet Boys Backstreet Boys Jive (11,920,000)[4][10] 14× Platinum
2011 Adele 21 Columbia/XL (11,870,000)[13] 14× Platinum
1996 Dion, CelineCeline Dion Falling into You Epic Records (11,799,000)[4][14] 11× Platinum
1999 Creed Human Clay Wind-up Records (11,700,000)[15] 11× Platinum
1979 Pink Floyd The Wall Columbia/Harvest/EMI 11,500,000 23× Platinum
(as of 1999)
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][16] 11× Platinum
2000 Linkin Park Hybrid Theory Warner Bros. (11,126,000)[4][15] 11× Platinum
2002 Jones, NorahNorah Jones Come Away with Me Blue Note (11,100,000)[17] 10× Platinum
(as of 2005)
1967 Beatles, TheThe Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Capitol 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1973 Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy Atlantic 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1976 Taylor, JamesJames Taylor Greatest Hits Warner Bros. 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1980 Aerosmith Greatest Hits Columbia 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1982 Eagles Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 Asylum 11,000,000 11× Platinum
1987 Soundtrack Dirty Dancing RCA 11,000,000 11× Platinum
(as of 1994)
1987 Jackson, MichaelMichael Jackson Bad Epic 10,879,000[4] 10× Platinum
1997 Dion, CelineCeline Dion Let's Talk About Love Epic Records (10,711,000)[4][14] 10× Platinum
2002 Eminem The Eminem Show Aftermath (10,700,000)[10] 10× Platinum
1991 Nirvana Nevermind DGC Records (10,640,000)[4][18] 10× Platinum
1998 Kid Rock Devil Without a Cause Atlantic Records (10,610,000)[4][19] 11× Platinum
2000 Spears, BritneyBritney Spears Oops!... I Did It Again Jive (10,410,000)[4][10] 10× Platinum
1998 NSYNC *NSYNC RCA (10,300,000)[4][20] 10× Platinum
2004 Usher Confessions Arista (10,300,000)[17] 10× Platinum
1998 Dixie Chicks Wide Open Spaces Monument (10,121,000)[4][21] 12× Platinum
1991 Pearl Jam Ten Epic Records (10,001,000)[22] 13× Platinum
1967 Cline, PatsyPatsy Cline Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits Decca 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
1971 King, CaroleCarole King Tapestry ODE 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1976 Creedence Clearwater Revival Chronicle, Vol. 1 Fantasy 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1976 Doobie Brothers Best of The Doobies Warner Bros. 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1977 Joel, BillyBilly Joel The Stranger Columbia 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1978 Van Halen Van Halen Warner Bros. 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1981 REO Speedwagon Hi Infidelity Epic 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1983 Def Leppard Pyromania Mercury Records 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1983 Richie, LionelLionel Richie Can't Slow Down Motown 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1983 ZZ Top Eliminator Warner Bros. 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1984 Madonna Like a Virgin Sire 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1984 Van Halen 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) Warner Bros. 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1985 Doors, TheThe Doors The Best of The Doors Elektra 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1986 Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill Def Jam 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1987 U2 The Joshua Tree Island 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1987 Michael, GeorgeGeorge Michael Faith Columbia 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1989 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks Garth Brooks Capitol 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1990 Madonna The Immaculate Collection Sire 10,000,000 10× Platinum
1990 MC Hammer Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em Capitol 10,000,000 10× Platinum

Fewer than 10 million copies[edit]

Year Artist Album Label Shipments (Sales) Certification[2]
1994 Boyz II Men II Motown (9,890,000)[4][23] 12× Platinum
1991 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks Ropin' the Wind Capitol Nashville (9,600,000)[10] 14× Platinum
1995 No Doubt Tragic Kingdom Trauma/Interscope Records (9,520,000)[4][24] 10× Platinum
1968 Beatles, TheThe Beatles The Beatles Capitol 9,500,000 19× Platinum
(2-disc album)
2015 Adele 25 Columbia/XL (9,400,000)[13] 11× Platinum
1996 Matchbox Twenty Yourself or Someone Like You Atlantic (9,358,000)[4][25] 12× Platinum
1994 Green Day Dookie Reprise Records (9,342,000)[4][26] 10× Platinum
1994 Bob Seger Greatest Hits Capitol (9,062,000)[27] 10× Platinum
1995 Twain, ShaniaShania Twain The Woman in Me Mercury Nashville (8,894,000)[4][28] 12× Platinum
1995 Jewel Pieces of You Atlantic (8,800,000)[4][29] 12× Platinum
1994 TLC CrazySexyCool LaFace (8,765,000)[4][21] 11× Platinum
2000 Nelly Country Grammar Universal (8,581,000)[30] 10× Platinum
1995 Carey, MariahMariah Carey Daydream Columbia (8,505,000)[4][31] 10× Platinum
1973 Beatles, TheThe Beatles 1967-1970 Capitol 8,500,000 17× Platinum
(2-disc album)
1999 Dixie Chicks Fly Monument Records (8,396,000)[21] 10× Platinum
1993 Petty and the Heartbreakers, TomTom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits MCA (8,200,000)[32] 12× Platinum
1993 Carey, MariahMariah Carey Music Box Columbia (8,012,000)[4][31] 10× Platinum
1975 Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti Swan Song 8,000,000 16× Platinum
(2-disc album)
2005 Nickelback All the Right Reasons Roadrunner (7,960,000)[33] 10× Platinum
1994 Soundtrack The Lion King Walt Disney Records (7,879,000)[34] 10× Platinum
1994 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks The Hits Liberty Records (7,821,000)[35] 10× Platinum
1992 Clapton, EricEric Clapton Unplugged Reprise Records (7,617,000)[36] 10× Platinum
1973 Beatles, TheThe Beatles 1962–1966 Capitol 7,500,000 15× Platinum
(2-disc album)
2008 Taylor Swift Fearless Big Machine Records (7,123,000)[37] 10× Platinum
1997 The Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death Bad Boy Records/Arista (6,320,000)[4][38] 10× Platinum
(2-disc album)
(as of 2000)
1998 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks Double Live Capitol Nashville (6,017,000)[39] 21× Platinum
(2-disc album)
1971 The Rolling Stones Hot Rocks 1964-1971 London 6,000,000 12× Platinum
(2-disc album)
2003 Outkast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below LaFace, Arista (5,702,000)[40] 11× Platinum
(2-disc album)
1997 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks Sevens Capitol Records (5,700,000)[41] 10× Platinum
2002 Twain, ShaniaShania Twain Up! Mercury Nashville (5,409,000)[40] 11× Platinum
(2-disc album)
1998 2Pac Greatest Hits Interscope (5,100,000)[42] 10× Platinum
(2-disc album)
1976 Wonder, StevieStevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life Motown 5,000,000 10× Platinum
(2-disc album)
1996 2Pac All Eyez On Me Death Row Records 5,000,000 10× Platinum
(2-disc album)
2007 Brooks, GarthGarth Brooks The Ultimate Hits Pearl Records 5,000,000 10× Platinum
(2-disc album)
1995 The Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness Virgin (4,900,000)[43] 10× Platinum
(2-disc album)
1994 Soundtrack Forrest Gump Epic Records (4,400,000)[44] 12× Platinum
1986 Springsteen, BruceBruce Springsteen Live/1975–85 Columbia 4,333,333 13× Platinum
(3-disc album)
1990 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin Boxed Set Atlantic Records 2,500,000 10× Platinum
(4-disc album)

Notes[edit]

  • Only includes sales tracked by Nielsen SoundScan since March 1, 1991 and BMG Music Club sales, where available.[45]

When tracking began, Nielsen SoundScan only had about 40% coverage of album sales.[46] 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.[47][48]

  • Album certifications from February 1, 2016 onward include "on-demand audio and video streams and a track sale equivalent."[1]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d "RIAA's Top 100 Albums". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 11, 2017. 
  3. ^ "RIAA Diamond Awards". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on July 25, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad David, Barry (2003-02-18). "Shania, Backstreet, Britney, Eminem And Janet Top All Time Sellers". Bertelsmann Music Group. New York: Music Industry News Network. Archived from the original on July 3, 2003. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  5. ^ Bjorke, Matt (2017-04-18). "Top Country Catalog Album Sales Chart: April 18, 2017". Roughstock. Retrieved 2017-08-06. 
  6. ^ Titus, Christa (2016-08-12). "7 Fast Chart Facts About Metallica's 'Black Album,' 25 Years Later". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-04-22. 
  7. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2015-06-26). "Billboard 200 Chart Moves: Alanis Morissette's 'Jagged Little Pill' Hits 15 million in U.S. Sales". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-06-30. 
  8. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2012-11-29). "Best Selling Albums Since 1991 (Soundscan Era): Adele Joins Elite Club". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-05-06. 
  9. ^ "The rise and fall of the Columbia House record club — and how we learned to steal music". Boston Phoenix. 2011-11-18. Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
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  11. ^ a b c Caulfield, Keith (2014-10-10). "Adele's '21' Surpasses 11 Million In U.S. Sales". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-10-18. 
  12. ^ Keith Caulfield (April 21, 2017). "Billboard 200 Chart Moves: Twenty One Pilots' 'Blurryface' Hits 100th Consecutive Week on List". Billboard. Retrieved April 21, 2017. 
  13. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith (2017-10-27). "Billboard 200 Chart Moves: Adele's '25' Hits 100th Consecutive Week on Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-11-11. 
  14. ^ a b Grein, Paul (2013-02-20). "Week Ending Feb. 17, 2013. Albums: Mumford's Grammy Surge". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2013-02-21. 
  15. ^ a b Lipshutz, Jason (2015-10-02). "10 Surprising Albums That Sold Over 10 Million Copies". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-04-20. 
  16. ^ Trust, Gary (2014-06-25). "Ask Billboard: With Nico & Vinz, Norway Continues U.S. Chart Invasion". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
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  20. ^ Ellis, Bill (2004-08-15). "Heir apparent -- Memphis's Justin Timberlake goes from a boy in the band to being the man". Go Memphis. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  21. ^ a b c Grein, Paul (2013-10-30). "Katy Perry Knocks Miley Cyrus Down a Couple Pegs". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
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  23. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (2014-09-30). "Boyz II Men Talk Incredible 1994 Run: 'A Lot Of It Was a Blur'". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-04-30. 
  24. ^ Hampp, Andrew (2012-08-13). "No Doubt: The Billboard Cover Story". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  25. ^ Grein, Paul (2012-09-12). "Week Ending Sept. 9, 2012. Albums: Matchbox Twenty's Long Wait". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  26. ^ Grein, Paul (2012-01-18). "Week Ending Jan. 15, 2012. Albums: Good News and Bad News". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
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  28. ^ Grein, Paul (2011-04-19). "Week Ending April 17, 2011. Albums: Grohl Times Two". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
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  33. ^ Stutz, Colin (March 13, 2017). "Nickelback's 'All the Right Reasons' Reaches RIAA Diamond Status". Billboard. Retrieved March 14, 2017. 
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  37. ^ Bjorke, Matt (November 26, 2017). "Top Country Catalog Sales Chart: November 26, 2017". Roughstock. Retrieved December 1, 2017. 
  38. ^ Ryan, Patrick (2014-06-25). "Michael Jackson joins posthumous hit parade". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
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External links[edit]