Best Selling Albums Worldwide

Any number of worldwide sales figures is an estimate, as there's really no way to know how many copies of Thriller were bought in Ghana in the '80s. And this being the record industry, figures were often inflated for promotional purposes. Based on a consensus of industry sources, including Billboard's sales figures, here is our list of the world's top selling albums as of October, 2010.
10. Come On Over - Shania Twain (1997)
39 Million

With help from her then-husband Mutt Lange, Shania crossed over to the pop world with the best selling country music album of all time.

Key Tracks:

9. Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack (1997)
40 Million

The original soundtrack of the movie Saturday Night Fever, starring the former Sweathog John Travolta, was written by The Bee Gees, whose falsetto vocals helped them rule the disco landscape. The movie is an excellent coming of age story dressed in polyester.

Key Tracks:

8. Millenium - Backstreet Boys (1999)
40 Million

The only Boy Band on this list, the Backstreet Boys might be the last artist to ever make the all-time top 10.

Once the real millenium got going, digital song downloads started biting into album sales, making it a lot harder to sell a full-length LP.

Key Track:

7. Dirty Dancing Soundtrack (1987)
42 Million

Starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, this endearing movie was a massive box office success, helping the soundtrack spend 18 weeks on top of the US album charts. We talked to one of the guys who wrote this stuff - get more Dirty Dancing Indulgence.

Key Tracks:

6. Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) - Eagles (1976)
42 Million

For a while, this was the best selling album of all time in the United States, where it had amassed about 3/4 of its sales. It benefited from those record clubs that would let you pick a bunch of albums for a penny, as it was a very popular selection.

Key Tracks:

5. Bat Out Of Hell - Meat Loaf (1977)
43 Million

With songs written by the brilliant Jim Steinman, Bat Out Of Hell is what it's like to be young and restless and occasionally in love. The album spawned 2 sequels and has sold at least 200,000 copies each year since its release in 1977.

Key Tracks:

4. The Bodyguard Soundtrack (1992)
44 Million

Thanks to a soaring rendition of a Dolly Parton song performed by Whitney Houston in her prime, this mediocre movie starring Kevin Costner as Whitney's protector remains the best selling soundtrack of all time.

Key Tracks:

3. Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd (1973)
45 Million

Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon is the best selling album by an English band! The album has the record of longevity in the famous Billboard charts, where it found a cozy home in the Top 200 for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988.

Key Tracks:

2. Back In Black - AC/DC (1980)
50 Million

A tribute to their fallen lead singer Bon Scott, AC/DC's 7th studio album was a raging success with global appeal. The group didn't need a reality show to find their next lead singer Brian Johnson, who has filled in beyond expectations. They didn't need no stinking ballads either.

Key Tracks:

1. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)
100 Million

Yeah, it's not even close. Out of the 9 songs on the album, 7 are available as singles and every one of them was a US Top-10 hit. The album set a new record when it earned 8 Grammy Awards in 1984.

Key Tracks:

Thanks to Bertrand - Paris, France for putting this together.
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Comments: 29

  • Bill from Pensacola, Flso what about songs that are most requested, or most played by radio (remember radio?) like Stairway To Heaven, is it possible some albums had less sales because we heard the songs more without the need to buy them? Maybe that would be a good article to research.
  • Joseph Christopher from Dallas ,texasAs I am by no means an expert or audiophile , I can't argue with the ratings . BUT most of these albums are junk! I agree with the Fleetwood Mac response and I could list numerous albums which SHOULD have sold more than any of these. Many that were more artistic and mature , with true poets and lyricists could have replaced these, but most listeners are never going to grow up.
  • AnonymousIt's hard to wrap your brain around how big a record Thriller was. These days a record selling 150-200,000 records a week is considered good. Back in the day, Thriller at it's peak sold a million copies a week. And it was everywhere. It was on MTV, the radio and everyone had a copy of the album. I was a teenager when Thriller came out and it still blows my mind how big it was back then.
  • Jamie from Newcastle, UkActually The Bodyguard does not "remain the best selling soundtrack of all time", in fact it never was. Saturday Night Fever takes that crown. It has sold 47 million copies. The bee Gees themselves announced that figure back in 2000 and it's got to be even higher since then. Most of these lists are jokes...and where is the Beatles Sgt Pepper album? See what I mean. And Dirty Dancing isn't even in the bestselling lists, period.
  • Jordan from San José, Costa RicaI want to know where does Appetite for Destruction fits on this list.
  • ChrisThriller sits at 110 million now. Dangerous from Michael Jackson has 40 million worldwide and Bad from MJ has 33 million. :)
  • Kelly from Hendersonville, TnGrowing up in the 70's and 80's I agree with many of the comments posted. I also agree with many who made the list. I just can't understand how Fleetwood Mac's Rumors didn't make it. The album sells to date are through the roof and the record is pure magic. Being a true FM fan I also love the Dance, the live album recorded in 1996 I think, that accompanied the fantastic DVD. So we all have our Favs, and we will all agree and disagree, lets just get over it.
  • Xav from Chicago, IlI have nothing against The Backstreet Boys but even if every teenage girl bought an album when it came out, I don't see how it sold that many. (And they don't have the gay following many people believe.) I think I'd better buy a copy of Carol King's "Tapestry" right now. (P.S. Jeff from TX: excellent comment. I was thinking the same thing; some people must check their brains at the door before going online.)
  • Josie from Ohiohey what about gnr's appetite for destruction
  • Benwoot...I always thought metallica´s black album already sold more copies than micheal jackson´s thriller. Someone is terribly wrong.
  • Jeff from TexasPeople, this is a list of all time, top selling albums! This is a list of facts, not someone's opinion. For those people who are saying "What about this? What about that?", you obviously are not that bright.
  • Awesome Possum from Lone Star State, PrincetonShania Twain is one of the most beautiful women in the world. No one can disagree with that. :)
  • AnonymousThis isn't about your favorite band it's about the TOP 10 selling albums of all time it's a fact that you can't argue with people
  • Isis from Queens, NySMH @ "thriller isn't even that great.." .. I can't even comment on that. You're clearly delusional.
  • Venky from Pasadena,caThe list looks misleading.What about Led Zepplin and Fleetwood Mac.
  • Rick from Belfast, MeThe albums back in the 60's and 70's had some "meat" to them. For example....most songs on a Beatles album was "fillers" on them. I agree with the Eagles Greatest Hits on this list....but the others should be replaced by other "worthy" albums.....
  • Brad from ConcordWhat about U2? Joshua Tree maybe.
  • Rockgod from The Purple PlanetThe Beatles,hello?
  • Johnandraine from New York City, NyThriller isn't even that great to be honest.
  • Vinícius from Fortaleza,brazilLed Zep really should be on this list, their album Led Zeppelin IV selled MANY copies which had their hit Stairway to Heaven
  • Joey from Bayside, NyBeatles & Stones Fans, Please remember this... The Music Industry was a different animal in the 60s than in the 70s and 80s. Singles were King and Albums sometimes merely afterthoughts. The Beatles biggest sellers, their early stuff, had completely different albums released in the US than in the UK and the rest of the world because Capitol fought against the Beatles for a year then Argued and stuck to the US Unwritten Standard of 12 tracks per Album vs the EMI/Parlaphone and UK standard of 14 Tracks per Album. The First true common Beatle album was Rubber Soul. But The Buying public was used to Albums that were 2 Hits and 10 Covers and Fillers twice a year instead of an artist putting several years work into an album (See Thriller, released Late 82, still spawning singles mid to late 84. Next album - Bad, Summer 87, 8 US Top 10s, Active on singles charts for 3 years.) The 70s and Concept Albums changed the Public Buying away from 45s and sold more albums (See Dark Side and Bat out of Hell.) But Rumours was the top selling album of all time until Thriller. I can't explain that one. And three more to think about... Madonna, Mariah, and Kylie Minogue are very popular world wide. And Did Somebody say Purple Rain? I could go on... Duran Duran.
  • Paul from Las VegasActually, double, triple albums, even box sets count as one album for best selling lists. A stupid rule, but the was it works. Also, I think these lists are more about how many sold within the release date year. Most albums on this list, say S.Twain, sold 99% of those records the year or so after it came out, since then? Very few. Obviously if you count the Beatles, records, 8-tracks, tapes, cds etc. They would own at least 5 spots on this list. But that takes thinking which the record industry cannot do. Also, as great as Zepplin is, they do not appeal to most music buyers. The average American is not a Zepplin fan, but the Beatles and Stones? Yes.
  • Cattelya from Grimes, IaThere is no way Shania Twain and The Backstreet Boys sold better than Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones,Abba, Fleetwood Mac, and probably several more. They shouldn't be on this list. Rumours, Sgt. Pepper or a Led Zeppelin album or something should be.
  • Debbie from Savannah, GaLooks like Rumors should be #10, not S. Twain's album. Rumors has sold 40M copies.

    Please see: "Stars Salute 'Rumours'". Billboard Bulletin, page 7. 6 February 1998.
  • Deborah from Las Vegas, Nvumm.... The Rolling Stones?? Thank You...
  • AnonymousWhat about Led Zep?
  • AnonymousSgt. Pepper???
  • Ra from San Luis CoTotally invalid. The top 4 or 5 Beatles albums would be on this list, with one of them at number 1, if we had perfect knowledge. A lot of sales in Eastern Europe and Asia were not officially credited. The White Album worldwide has sold over 30 million, and counts as 2 (double), so that's 60 million.
  • Bomber from Winthrop,massWhere is Rumors by Fleetwood Mac? No Zeppelin, Abba,Beatles were talking worldwide
see more comments

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