Pop is a category that music research companies like Billboard and critics use for music. It sits alongside other categories such as country, classic, rock and blues. It holds an odd place on the list, somewhere next to rock but not as attached to ’50s artists like Elvis Presley. Singer Pete Seeger called it “professional music which draws upon both folk music and fine arts music.” That does not help much to pick out what music should be included.
24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the 100 best-selling pop albums since Billboard started keeping track. From that list, we picked the winner. Country crossover stars Shania Twain and Taylor Swift each boast three albums on the finalist list. The subgenres of pop represented span the spectrum from country to rock to rap to R&B. An outlier on the list is the 1994 soundtrack to Disney’s “The Lion King,” featuring multiple songs written and performed by Elton John. None of them have music anything like what is on the winning album.
To determine the 100 best pop albums of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index based on three metrics:
- The number of weeks an album spent on the Billboard 200
- Its positions on the chart (one week at number one, for instance, being worth 200 times more than a week spent at number 200)
- Total certified U.S. album sales, according to the Recording Industry Association of America
All metrics were evenly weighted.
The top-selling pop album also could be considered rock. It is “Thriller,” released in 1982. Here are the details:
- Artist: Michael Jackson
- Certification: 33X multi-platinum
- Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 469
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