Top 20 all-time best-selling albums: What is the top selling album of all time?

Top 20 all-time best-selling albums: What is the top selling album of all time?

Have you ever stopped to ask what the all-time best-selling albums are? Do you keep tabs on your favourite artist's record sales and how well they rank on the charts? This list compiles their certified sales while shedding light on how significant the numbers are in this ranking.

What are the 10 best-selling albums of all time
A CD version of The Eagles album "Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975. Photo: @Justin Sullivan
Source: Getty Images

Besides ranking the top 20 all-time best-selling albums, this list highlights the evolution of music across the globe and how influential particular music genres were. It also includes most of your favourite artists' transcendence to stardom. Can you take a wild guess of the names you expect to feature in this list?

What are the top 20-selling albums of all time?

Figures like Michael Jackson earned titles like the King of Pop because they were perfect in their craft. Other legends like Bob Marley played a monumental role in the history of reggae music. Does this translate to their positions in this list?

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20. Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA

  • Year: 1984
  • Label: Columbia
  • Total certified sales: 19 million

Kicking off this list is Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA. The compilation is one of the best-selling albums, garnering more than 19 million certified sales.

19. Santana: Supernatural

  • Year: 1999
  • Label: Arista
  • Total certified sales: 20 million

Carlos Santana released his 1999 Supernatural album after his band had been inducted into the Hall of Fame. It accumulated over 20 million certified sales, earning a position among the top 20 albums of all time.

18. Metallica: Metallica

Metallica band members with a platinum disc for more than 80,000 copies sold. Photo: @Victor Chavez
Source: Getty Images
  • Year: 1991
  • Label: Atlantic/Elektra
  • Total certified sales: 21 million

Metallica, the revolutionary album, set the record as the best-selling metal album of all time with more than 21 million certified sales.

17. Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell

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  • Year: 1977
  • Label: Cleveland International/Epic
  • Total certified sales: 21 million

Meat Loaf combined the best elements of the urban rock opera to come up with Bat Out of Hell, the masterpiece which garnered 21 million certified sales after its release.

16. Bee Gees (Various artists): Saturday Night Fever soundtrack

  • Year: 1991
  • Label: Capitol
  • Total certified sales: 21 million

Saturday Night Fever by Bee Gees and other artists cemented Bee Gees' place in pop culture and the compilation made over 21 million certified sales; hence, it is one of the best-selling albums in 2023.

15. Guns N’ Roses: Appetite for Destruction

  • Year: 1987
  • Label: Geffen
  • Total certified sales: 21 million

Guns N’ Roses' debut album, Appetite for Destruction, has garnered over 21 million certified sales as of 2023.

14. Bob Marley & The Wailers: Legend

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Bob Marley
The Wailers and Bob Marley live on stage at the Odeon with the bass player. Photo: @Ian Dickson
Source: Getty Images
  • Year: 1984
  • Label: Island
  • Total certified sales: 22 million

Bob Marley & The Wailers' Legend album was the most successful album of all time; it has accumulated 22 million certified sales.

13. ABBA: Gold: Greatest Hits

  • Year: 1992
  • Label: Polygram/Universal
  • Total certified sales: 22 million

ABBA’s Greatest Hits compilation set the record as the best-selling pop album of all time. With a record of 22 million, it is the second-most album in the UK.

12. The Beatles: 1

  • Year: 2000
  • Label: Apple/Parlophone, Capitol
  • Total certified sales: 26 million

Unlike most compilations, The Beatles' 1 album is a compilation of the band's songs that topped the charts in the US and UK. It is a double album with 27 hits and has made 26 million certified sales.

11. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon

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  • Year: 1973
  • Label: Harvest
  • Total certified sales: 24 million

Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd is the 11th best-selling album in 2023. It was released in 1973 and has garnered 24 million certified sales.

10. Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill

  • Year: 1995
  • Label: Maverick/Reprise
  • Total certified sales: 24 million

As grunge gained popularity in the mid-1990s, its influence transcended to pop music. Canadian Alanis Morissette jumped on the wave with her third album, Jagged Little Pill, one of the best-selling albums, with 24 million certified sales.

9. Adele: 21

Adele live on stage in Menschen, Bilder, in December 2015. Photo: @Sascha Steinbach
Source: Getty Images
  • Year: 2011
  • Label: XL, Columbia
  • Total certified sales: 25 million

Adele Adkins has to be among the youngest female artists in this list of artists with the most sold records of all time. Her 21 compilation earned Adele the title of the female who has sold the most albums.

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8. AC/DC: Back in Black

  • Year: 1980
  • Label: Epic
  • Total certified sales: 26 million

The AC/DC band was on top of the world in 1980 after releasing Back in Black, months after releasing Highway to Hell, the album that propelled their fame. The project gained a spot in the top 10 albums of all time.

7. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours

  • Year: 1977
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Total certified sales: 27 million

The hitmaking couple Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham released an award-winning album that would later be the epitome of their career, Rumours. The 11-track compilation made more than 27 million certified sales.

6. Whitney Houston (Various Artists): The Bodyguard Soundtrack

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston's live perfomance in Paris Bercy in May 1988. Photo: @Frederic REGLAIN
Source: Getty Images
  • Year: 1992
  • Label: RCA
  • Total certified sales: 28 million

Whitney Houston carried half of the soundtrack that won the Grammys award for the best album in 1992, which was the peak of her career. The Bodyguard Soundtrack, her 1992 release, has over 28 million certified sales.

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5. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV

  • Year: 1971
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Total certified sales: 29 million

Led Zeppelin IV is one of rock's best-selling albums, with a record of over 29 million certified sales.

4. Shania Twain: Come on Over

Top 100 best-selling artists of all time
Shania Twain's live performance during the Come On Over album release at Shoreline Amphitheatre on June 1998. Photo: @Tim Mosenfelder
Source: Getty Images
  • Year: 1997
  • Label: Mercury Nashville
  • Total certified sales: 29 million

Shania Twain's Come on Over is one of the top-selling albums of all time, with a record of 29 million album sales.

3. Eagles: Hotel California

  • Year: 1976
  • Label: Rhino
  • Total certified sales: 32 million (42 million claimed)

Eagles' Hotel California is one of the band's best-selling albums and has a record of 32 million certified album sales.

2. Eagles: Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)

  • Year: 1976
  • Label: Rhino
  • Total certified sales: 41 million (51 million claimed)

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The Eagles Their Great Hits compilation is among the top 5 albums with a record of 41 million certified sales.

1. Michael Jackson: Thriller

What are the Top 5 selling albums?
A general view at the drive-in presentation of "Thriller" during the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. Photo: @Will Ragozzino
Source: Getty Images
  • Year: 1982
  • Label: Epic
  • Total certified sales: 70 million

What is the #1 selling album of all time? Michael Jackson's Thriller tops the list as the best-selling album. As of January 2023, it has a record of 70 million certified sales, with countless others replicating pop perfection.

The list of the top 20 all-time best-selling albums and figures mentioned above have been compiled from various sources around the web. They mirror the iconic moments of the artists and how they moved the masses through their crafts. Some are celebrated posthumously for setting records that might take decades to break.

READ ALSO: Top 25 South African jazz artists that you need to listen to

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Jazz music receives more attention on 30th April annually, often recognised as Jazz Day. Since April is a few weeks away, familiarising yourself with the figures in this list will play a significant role while honouring the artists.

Source: Briefly News

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