The 100 Best Selling Albums of All Time (Updated for 2017)

Michael Jackson: No. 1 Best Selling Albums of All Time

What are the best-selling albums of all time?  According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Michael Jackson’s Thriller is back at number one with 33 million copies sold in the US alone.  Here’s the rest.

(Note: these are US-based numbers.  The RIAA counts an ‘album sale’ as either a direct album purchase, or the ‘album equivalent’ of 10 downloaded singles from the same album, or 1,500 streams from the same album.)

1. Michael Jackson, Thriller
(33 million certified units).

2. Eagles, Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975
(29 million).

3. Billy Joel, Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II
(23 million)

4. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV
(23 million)

5. Pink Floyd, The Wall
(23 million)

6. AC/DC, Back In Black
(22 million)

7. Garth Brooks, Double Live
(21 million)

8. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
(20 million)

9. Shania Twain, Come On Over
(20 million)

10. The Beatles, The Beatles
(19 million)

11. Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction
(18 million)

12. Boston, Boston
(17 million).

13. Elton John, Greatest Hits
(17 million).

14. Garth Brooks, No Fences
(17 million)

15. The Beatles, The Beatles 1967-1970
(17 million)

16. Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard (Soundtrack)
(17 million)

17. Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill
(16 million)

18. Eagles, Hotel California
(16 million)

19. Hootie & The Blowfish, Cracked Rear View
(16 million)

20. Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
(16 million)

Metallica, Metallica

21. Metallica, Metallica
(16 million)

22. Bee Gees, Saturday Night Fever (Soundtrack)
(15 million)

23. Bob Marley & the Wailers, Legend
(15 million)

24. Bruce Springsteen, Born In the U.S.A.
(15 million)

25. Journey, Greatest Hits 
(15 million)

26. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon
(15 million)

27. Santana, Supernatural
(15 million)

28. The Beatles, The Beatles 1962-1966
(15 million)

29. Adele, 21
(14 million)

30. Backstreet Boys, Backstreet Boys
(14 million)

 31. Britney Spears, …Baby One More Time
(14 million)

32. Garth Brooks, Ropin’ the Wind
(14 million)

33. Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell
(14 million)

34. Simon & Garfunkel, Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits
(14 million)

35. Backstreet Boys, Millennium
(13 million)

36. Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live 1975-’85
(13 million)

37. Pearl Jam, Ten
(13 million)

38. Prince & the Revolution, Purple Rain (Soundtrack)
(13 million)

39. Steve Miller Band, Greatest Hits 1974-1978
(13 million)

40. Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston
(13 million)

41. Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet
(12 million)

42. Boyz II Men, II
(12 million)

43. Def Leppard, Hysteria
(12 million)

44. Dixie Chicks, Wide Open Spaces
(12 million)

45. Jewel, Pieces of You
(12 million)

46. Kenny G, Breathless
(12 million)

47. Kenny Rogers, Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits
(12 million)

48. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II
(12 million)

49. Matchbox Twenty, Yourself or Someone Like You
(12 million)

50. Phil Collins, No Jacket Required
(12 million)

51. Shania Twain, The Woman In Me
(12 million)

52. Forest Gump (Soundtrack)
(12 million)

53. The Beatles, Abbey Road
(12 million)

54. The Rolling Stones, Hot Rocks
(12 million)

55. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Greatest Hits
(12 million)

56. ‘N Sync, No Strings Attached
(11 million)

57. Aerosmith, Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits
(11 million)

58. Celine Dion, Falling Into You
(11 million)

59. Creed, Human Clay
(11 million)

60. Eagles, Eagles Greatest Hits Volume II
(11 million)

61. James Taylor, James Taylor’s Greatest Hits
(11 million)

62. Kid Rock, Devil Without a Cause
(11 million)

63. Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy
(11 million)

64. Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
(11 million)

65. Shania Twain, Up!
(11 million)

66. Dirty Dancing (Soundtrack)
(11 million)

67. Titanic (Soundtrack)
(11 million)

68. The Beatles, 1
(11 milllion)

69. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
(11 million)

70. TLC, Crazysexycool
(11 million)

71. ‘N Sync, ‘N Sync
(10 million)

72. 2 Pac, Greatest Hits
(10 million)

73. 2 Pac, All Eyez on Me
(10 million)

74. Adele, 25
(10 million)

75. Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
(10 million)

76. Billy Joel, The Stranger
(10 million)

77. Britney Spears, Oops!…I Did It Again
(10 million)

78. Carole King, Tapestry
(10 million)

79. Celine Dion, Let’s Talk About Love
(10 million)

80. Creedance Clearwater Revival, Chronicle: 20 Greatest Hits
(10 million)

81. Def Leppard, Pyromania
(10 million)

82. Dixie Chicks, Fly
(10 million)

83. Doobie Brothers, Best of the Doobies
(10 million)

84. Elvis Presley, Elvis’ Christmas Album
(10 million)

85. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers EP
(10 million)

86. Eminem, The Eminem Show
(10 million)

87. Eric Clapton, Unplugged
(10 million)

88. Garth Brooks, The Ultimate Hits
(10 million)

89. Garth Brooks, Garth Brooks
(10 million)

90. Garth Brooks, The Hits
(10 million)

91. Garth Brooks, Sevens
(10 million)

92. George Michael, Faith
(10 million)

93. Green Day, Dookie
(10 million)

94. Hammer, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em
(10 million)

95. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
(10 million)

96. Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory
(10 million)

97. Lionel Richie, Can’t Slow Down
(10 million)

98. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
(10 million)

99. Madonna, Like a Virgin
(10 million)

100. Mariah Carey, Daydream
(10 million)

40 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Nashvillian

    Can someone answer a question for me?

    Why do so many artists occupy adjacent spots on the list?
    68 The Beatles
    69 The Beatles
    72 2 Pac
    73 2 Pac
    85 Eminem
    86 Eminem
    88 Garth Brooks
    89 Garth Brooks
    90 Garth Brooks
    91 Garth Brooks
    98 Madonna
    99 Madonna

        • Avatar
          Nashvillian

          For those who are interested in who has multiple albums in the Top 100 Best Selling Albums of All Time, Garth Brooks has 7, The Beatles have 6, Led Zeppelin has 5, The Eagles have 3 and Shania Twain has 3. (Fascinating that two of those five are country and another is country-ish.)

          Here’s the complete list of artists with multiple albums on the list:

          Garth Brooks  #7  Double Live  21 million
          Garth Brooks  #14  No Fences  17 million
          Garth Brooks  #32  Ropin’ the Wind  14 million
          Garth Brooks  #88  The Ultimate Hits  10 million
          Garth Brooks  #89  Garth Brooks  10 million
          Garth Brooks  #90  The Hits  10 million
          Garth Brooks  #91  Sevens  10 million
          The Beatles  #10  The Beatles (White Album)  19 million
          The Beatles  #15  The Beatles 1967-1970  17 million
          The Beatles  #28  The Beatles 1962-1966  15 million
          The Beatles  #53  Abbey Road  12 million
          The Beatles  #68  1  11 million
          The Beatles  #69  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  11 million
          Led Zeppelin  #4  Led Zeppelin IV  23 million
          Led Zeppelin  #20  Physical Graffiti  16 million
          Led Zeppelin  #48  Led Zeppelin II  12 million
          Led Zeppelin  #63  Houses of the Holy  11 million
          Led Zeppelin  #95  Led Zeppelin  10 million
          Eagles  #2  Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975  29 million
          Eagles  #18  Hotel California  16 million
          Eagles  #60  Eagles Greatest Hits Volume II  11 million
          Shania Twain  #9  Come On Over  20 million
          Shania Twain  #51  The Woman In Me  12 million
          Shania Twain  #65  Up!  11 million
          ‘N Sync  #56  No Strings Attached  11 million
          ‘N Sync  #71  ‘N Sync  10 million
          2 Pac  #72  Greatest Hits  10 million
          2 Pac  #73  All Eyez on Me  10 million
          Adele  #29  21  14 million
          Adele  #74  25  10 million
          Backstreet Boys  #30  Backstreet Boys  14 million
          Backstreet Boys  #35  Millennium  13 million
          Billy Joel  #3  Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II  23 million
          Billy Joel  #76  The Stranger  10 million
          Britney Spears  #31  …Baby One More Time  14 million
          Britney Spears  #77  Oops!…I Did It Again  10 million
          Bruce Springsteen  #24  Born In the U.S.A.  15 million
          Bruce Springsteen  #36  Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live 1975-’85  13 million
          Celine Dion  #58  Falling Into You  11 million
          Celine Dion  #79  Let’s Talk About Love  10 million
          Def Leppard  #43  Hysteria  12 million
          Def Leppard  #81  Pyromania  10 million
          Dixie Chicks  #44  Wide Open Spaces  12 million
          Dixie Chicks  #82  Fly  10 million
          Eminem  #85  The Marshall Mathers EP  10 million
          Eminem  #86  The Eminem Show  10 million
          Madonna  #98  The Immaculate Collection  10 million
          Madonna  #99  Like a Virgin  10 million
          Pink Floyd  #5  The Wall  23 million
          Pink Floyd  #26  Dark Side of the Moon  15 million
          Whitney Houston  #16  The Bodyguard (Soundtrack)  17 million
          Whitney Houston  #40  Whitney Houston  13 million

          • Avatar
            Courtney

            Whitney Houston’s the bodyguard Soundtrack was re certified on November 17th 2017 to 18 x platinum and Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack was also re certified to 16 x platinum on November 16th 2017 and some of those others need updating Journey Greatest Hits should be at minimum 17 x platinum Madonna’s Immaculate collection should be at least 11 x platinum Adele’s 21 should be 15 x platinum Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975 should be 30 x platinum and I’d guess Thriller is close to 34 x platinum also Metallica’s Metallica was re certified in December 17 x platinum though the RIAA haven’t officially announced the updated Metallica certifications yet as their album And Justice For All… was also certified 9 x platinum

      • Avatar
        Paul Resnikoff

        Right. There isn’t more fine-tuned data, so 10.4 million is the same as 10.1 mm. The numbers can get a little fuzzy beyond that.

        • Avatar
          Jim

          you also can mention that in most cases, those numbers are severely out of date.

          They haven’t done a certification on many of those albums in over a decade.

    • Avatar
      Tom

      As for Garth…I imagine it is the same (more or less) 10 million buying the album. Not to say he only has 10 million fans, but it is kind of like how the boy bands and Brittney Spears’ entries are in similar places. The same 11 million teens bought both N’sync albums. Also, notice the double live album by Garth…21 million, but 1/2 of that is 10.5 million (1 sale counts as 2 I think when you have a double CD) so, many of garths albums have similar sales could mean the same people are buying them.

      • Avatar
        Gentry2

        Your argument is odd, as this could be said about any artist on the list. (And I think you’re wrong.) As of a decade or so ago, Brooks had sold 160 million albums worldwide and si the best selling solo artist in U.S. history. (that’s forsakes in the USA.)

    • Avatar
      Austintx

      These online ‘best album’s lists have TV singing show contest ‘artists’ and (c)rappers ranked higher than masterpieces like Steely Dan Aja, Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Icehouse (1981), etc etc. Yes, Dark Side of The Moon should probably be seen as ‘THE BAR’ as to what all else fall under, but obscure art from Lucinda Williams to Eric Johnson in terms of ENTIRE ALBUM of GREAT MUSIC should never be listed with crud like Garth Brooks and sorry, but rap isn’t for extensive listening unless you dropped out or enjoy streetcorner cardboard sign status (relevant to corresponding ‘taste’ on the objective merits…try comparing ANY rap to Motown. Motown will always be enjoyed as delicious appetizer and dessert to greats like Pink Floyd, Rush, SRC, etc etc). Sad that Justine Beavers and so much rap junk TV contest stuff has made it all a music agent marketing game instead of the music speaking for itself. Because so little of today’s music is with passion. Just formula and paychecks. Very weak since ‘Reality TV’ and this era of Drumpf spin dumbing us all down into counting yellow pee as ‘great lemonade, bigly!’

      • Avatar
        Mauricio

        The Dark Side of the Moon has actually sold around 21 million copies in the U.S.
        The 15x Platinum award is very outdated.

    • Avatar
      Snakebite

      It’s an easy question, because they sold that many copies.

  2. Avatar
    Hughie

    This is great, thanks. But how about some worldwide figures?? Doesn’t the rest of the world count?

    • Avatar
      Mauricio

      Here you go: http://chartmasters.org/2017/10/cspc-data-collector/6/

      This list doesn’t include compilations is still a work in progress and is missing many huge albums:
      • Shania Twain – Come on Over (37+ million)
      • AC/DC – Back in Black (35+ million)
      • Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (30+ million)
      • Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill (30+ million)
      • Metallica – Metallica (30+ million)
      • Simon & Garfunkel – Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits (30+ million)
      • James Horner – Titanic (28+ million)
      • Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms (28+ million)
      • Elton John – Elton John’s Greatest Hits (22+ million)
      • Eric Clapton – Unplugged (20+ million)
      • Elvis Presley – Elvis’ Christmas Album (16+ million)

      This is another, outdated list made by the the same guy:
      http://fanofmusic.free.fr/index.php?m=Charts&s=BestSellers&p=BestSellersWorldAlbums

  3. Avatar
    Chilli1327

    I just wonder why Peter Framptons, “Frampton Comes Alive” is not on the list with over 11 million copies sold…

  4. Avatar
    Justin

    This is a bullshit list that was obviously not looked into much. Blink 182’s “Enema of the State” sold over 15 million copies. Several other mistakes.

  5. Avatar
    Yvonne

    What about Moody Blues, Cat Stevens, ZZ Top and Allman Brothers just to name a few. I have so many albums I can’t see straight. What do I do with them????

  6. Avatar
    Peter

    Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells 15mil copies sold. Where is it?

  7. Avatar
    Mary New York City

    This list is wrong. Carole King’s “Tapestry” sold 25 million albums and is not on this list. Others have also pointed out other artists who should be listed that weren’t.

    Bad job Digital Music. Redo this list.

    • Avatar
      JRG

      Carole King, Tapestry, is number 78 on the list.

  8. Avatar
    Anonymous

    These must be album sales only in the U.S. bc if we are talking international sales the King of Pop Michael Jackson would have at least 4 entries. Thriller of course, Bad, Dangerous and HIStory. Look up the numbers if you disagree.

  9. Avatar
    Mike

    This list is a joke. If “Billy Jean” was downloaded 10 times it’s counted as an album sale.

  10. Avatar
    Bülent ORAL

    Why don’t we see Bing Crosby and his “White Christmas” in any list?

  11. Avatar
    Sandro

    this list has been written by someone who was under the effect of heavy drugs. how could you ever write such bullshit? it’s all false. and what I state can be easily proven

  12. Avatar
    Anonymous

    why this boycott against MARIAH CAREY???? Music Box and Daydream are at the top 50