According to the RIAA’s new criteria, an album is a certified platinum after 1 million sales or 1.5 billion streams, with 1,500 streams equaling one sale. On this list, we’ll tally down the best-selling albums in the United States, but with a twist. Below is a list of the top ten best-selling albums of all time:
Top 10 Music Albums of All Time
- Grease: The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture (1978)
Grease (1978), one of the most well-known and beloved musicals of all time, is undoubtedly the most notable film of the decade’s 1950s throwback fad. The film is based on the theatrical play of the same name written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey in 1971. The soundtrack album has sold over 14.4 million copies worldwide to date, making it the ninth best-selling album of all time.
- Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)
Rumors (1977), the 11th studio album by Fleetwood Mac, was recorded and produced in California in 1976. The writing and recording process was heavily influenced by the band’s destructive internal and external relationships at the time: founding member Mick Fleetwood (drums) had recently discovered that the mother of his two children was having an affair, Lindsey Buckingham (lead guitar) and Stevie Nicks (Vocals) were frequently fighting in an on/off relationship, and Christine McVie (Vocals) and John McVie (Bass) had recently divorced after eight years of marriage.
- Bee Gees – Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Saturday Night Fever (1977) and its Bee Gees soundtrack are so legendary that it’s tough to tell them apart, yet the performers were actually dancing on set to Stevie Wonder and Boz Scaggs. The Bee Gees were not assigned to score the film until post-production.
- Eagles – Hotel California
The context for the Eagles’ 42 million+ worldwide selling magnum opus Hotel California (1976) is one of the interpersonal band conflicts. After five studio albums, the band was simply referring to one another by sir name. They would separate ideas and send them to one another for approval. Bernie Leadon, the band’s main country influence and multi-instrumentalist, had lately gone, so they made a conscious decision to lean more toward a rock sound.
- Whitney Houston & Various Artists – The Bodyguard (1992)
Initially conceived by writer Lawrence Kasdan in 1976 as a vehicle for Diana Ross, The Bodyguard film development stalled twice in the same decade before finally moving forward in 1992 with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston co-starring.
- Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell (1977), which was produced by Todd Rundgren and composed by Jim Steinman, was motivated by the concept of a Peter Pan rock musical. It came after being turned down by record companies for 2.5 years. Meat Loaf was well-known as a Broadway performer at the time, and performers transitioning into the rock industry wasn’t exactly the norm.
- Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of The Moon (1973)
Dark Side of the Moon (1973), the only progressive rock album in the top 10, addresses war, money, time, and mental health—themes the band had previously mined—but does so without the lengthy musical passages that were typical of their earlier work.
- AC/DC – Back in Black (1980)
Back in Black (1980) was produced by rock super-producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange who insisted on excellence, especially from vocalist Brian Johnson. It was recorded in the Bahamas and mixed in New York. The band’s seventh studio album is their first with new singer Johnson since the unexpected passing of Bon Scott, their original singer.
- The Eagles – The Greatest Hits 1971 – 1975 (1976)
This Eagles compilation CD and Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982) have competed for the title of the best-selling album in the US over the years. With Jackson’s passing, his album overtook it; but, in terms of global sales, it has subsequently reclaimed the top rank.
- Michael Jackson – Thriller
Around 66 million copies of Michael Jackson’s 1982 song Thriller have been sold to date, and it has earned an unprecedented eight Grammy awards. In the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, it is listed alongside the culturally significant “Thriller” video made by John Landis (‘American Werewolf in London’). Although Jackson’s previous album Off the Wall (1979) had received positive reviews, he wasn’t content. Click here to watch short video of Thriller song by Michael Jackson.
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