Special Report

100 Best Pop Albums of All Time

While pop music almost always enjoys commercial success, not all popular music is necessarily “pop.” The term originally was used to describe all forms of popular music, including rock and roll, but it has evolved into a more specific genre of music. As a result, even popular rock groups are frequently not considered pop music.

There are several notable artists who straddle the two genres, however, including Prince, whose 4x Multi-Platinum album “1999” and 13x Multi-Platinum “Purple Rain” soundtrack both made the cut.

As pop music has enjoyed increasing commercial success over the last 50 years, it has become interwoven with other styles of music, taking on characteristics of and influencing genres such as rap and country. Artists who may have originally worked in one genre have become more pop as they have become more successful. Today, artists such as Taylor Swift, who began playing pop country, and Drake, who is more associated with rap, are often played on top hits radio stations. Not only could both musicians be considered pop artists, but also their fan bases overlap greatly.

There are a number of artists who have more than one album on the list. Michael Jackson leads the pack with six albums featured, followed by Taylor Swift and Eminem, who both have five. Madonna is next with four albums featured.

To determine the best pop albums of all time, 24/7 Wall St. generated an index based on rankings on the Billboard 200 chart and lifetime album sales. Both components of the index were given equal weight.

A band’s total certified U.S. album sales came from the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA tracks album sales released in the American market with a threshold of 500,000 units sold. To be considered, an album must have at least 1,000,000 certified sales. How well an album performed on the Billboard 200 was determined by awarding points based on the number of weeks it was on the list and its rank for each week.

Pop music has come to mean more than mere popularity. Generally, pop albums consist of singles-based music engineered for wide appeal on pop radio and pop television. Pop music often incorporates elements of dance, as well as heavily produced electronic components. Based on 24/7 Wall St.’s discretion, albums that did not meet these loose criteria were excluded from our analysis. As a result, a number of highly popular artists including Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, and Fleetwood Mac were culled from the final list.