100 Best Pop Albums of All Time

April 11, 2018 by Steven M. Peters

Source: George Rose / Getty Images
Pop music is deeply embedded in the fabric of American society. Whether it’s playing on the radio, television, or at the local shopping center, today’s top hits seem to be constantly blasting from speakers everywhere.

While pop originally grew out of rock and roll, it began to develop its own characteristics in the 1960s. Comprised primarily of short, catchy, melodic songs, pop’s greatest strength is its wide audience appeal. While some pop groups – such as NSYNC – appeal primarily to teenagers, more major players – such as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson – offer something for just about everyone.

By creating an index of album sales and Billboard performance, 24/7 Wall St. has determined the 100 best pop albums of all time.

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.

Click here to see the 100 best pop albums of all time.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

100. Business As Usual (1982)
> Artist: Men At Work
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 90

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Source: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

99. Greatest Hits (2000)
> Artist: Tim McGraw
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 105

Source: Top Streetwear / Wikimedia Commons

98. Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ (2003)
> Artist: 50 Cent
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 104

Source: Theo Wargo / Getty Images

97. Some Nights (2012)
> Artist: fun.
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 92

Source: Drew de F Fawkes / Wikimedia Commons

96. Blurryface (2015)
> Artist: twenty one pilots
> Copies sold: 3 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 150

Source: Jessie Pearl from Yucaipa, CA, USA / Wikimedia Commons

95. Christopher Cross (1979)
> Artist: Christopher Cross
> Copies sold: 5 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 116

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

94. Wilson Phillips (1990)
> Artist: Wilson Phillips
> Copies sold: 5 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 125

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Source: Timothy Tsui / Wikimedia Commons

93. Songs About Jane (2002)
> Artist: Maroon 5
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 157

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images for NARAS

92. Good Girl Gone Bad (2007)
> Artist: Rihanna
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 99

Source: J Vettorino from USA / Wikimedia Commons

91. janet. (1993)
> Artist: Janet Jackson
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 106

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

90. True Blue (1986)
> Artist: Madonna
> Copies sold: 7 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 82

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89. In The Lonely Hour (2014)
> Artist: Sam Smith
> Copies sold: 2 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 198

Source: Vicki L. Miller / Shutterstock.com

88. The Essential Michael Jackson (2005)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Copies sold: 3 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 220

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

87. Breakaway (2004)
> Artist: Kelly Clarkson
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 104

Source: Francois Nel / Getty Images

86. Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)
> Artist: Janet Jackson
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 108

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

85. Not A Moment Too Soon (1994)
> Artist: Tim McGraw
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 115

Source: nicolas genin / Wikimedia Commons

84. 1999 (1982)
> Artist: Prince
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 162

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83. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)
> Artist: Eminem
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 187

Source: Robin Wong / Wikimedia Commons

82. Let Go (2002)
> Artist: Avril Lavigne
> Copies sold: 7 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 97

Source: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

81. Montevallo (2014)
> Artist: Sam Hunt
> Copies sold: 3 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 179

Source: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

80. My Kinda Party (2010)
> Artist: Jason Aldean
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 171

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79. + (2012)
> Artist: Ed Sheeran
> Copies sold: 2 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 243

Source: Courtesy of Elektra

78. The Cars (1978)
> Artist: The Cars
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 139

Source: Patrick Riviere / Getty Images

77. Savage Garden (1997)
> Artist: Savage Garden
> Copies sold: 7 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 104

Source: chrisweger / Wikimedia Commons

76. Madonna (1983)
> Artist: Madonna
> Copies sold: 5 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 168

Source: The Come Up Show from Canada / Wikimedia Commons

75. The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill (1998)
> Artist: Lauryn Hill
> Copies sold: 8 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 91

Source: MC2 Erica R. Gardner, USN / Wikimedia Commons

74. Rapture (1986)
> Artist: Anita Baker
> Copies sold: 5 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 157

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73. Need You Now (2010)
> Artist: Lady Antebellum
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 129

Source: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

72. Speak Now (2010)
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 137

Source: Eric Mutrie from Canadaderivative / Wikimedia Commons

71. Spice (1997)
> Artist: Spice Girls
> Copies sold: 7 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 105

Source: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

70. Secrets (1996)
> Artist: Toni Braxton
> Copies sold: 8 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 92

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Source: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

69. Red (2012)
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 148

Source: Francisconce / Wikimedia Commons

68. Dangerous (1991)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Copies sold: 7 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 119

Source: Phil Walter / Getty Images

67. Number Ones (2003)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 220

Source: Sky Cinema / Shutterstock.com

66. The Fame (2008)
> Artist: Lady Gaga
> Copies sold: 3 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 208

Source: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

65. Unorthodox Jukebox (2012)
> Artist: Bruno Mars
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 203

Source: Jason Persse from Brooklyn, USA / Wikimedia Commons

64. Dr. Dre — 2001 (1999)
> Artist: Dr. Dre
> Copies sold: 6 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 164

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63. Here’s To The Good Times (2012)
> Artist: Florida Georgia Line
> Copies sold: 2 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 241

Source: Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images

62. Toni Braxton (1993)
> Artist: Toni Braxton
> Copies sold: 8 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 96

Source: megan K. rocks from Athens, GA, USA / Wikimedia Commons

61. Christina Aguilera (1999)
> Artist: Christina Aguilera
> Copies sold: 8 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 97

Source: Alexander Mazurkevich / Shutterstock.com

60. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
> Artist: Elton John
> Copies sold: 8 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 111

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Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

59. 19 (2008)
> Artist: Adele
> Copies sold: 3 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 218

Source: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

58. The Writing’s On The Wall (1999)
> Artist: Destiny’s Child
> Copies sold: 8 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 99

Source: sisterphotography / Wikimedia Commons

57. Breathe (1999)
> Artist: Faith Hill
> Copies sold: 8 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 103

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

56. Whitney (1987)
> Artist: Whitney Houston
> Copies sold: 9 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 88

Source: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

55. Crash My Party (2013)
> Artist: Luke Bryan
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 216

Source: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

54. Tailgates & Tanlines (2011)
> Artist: Luke Bryan
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 214

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Source: Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

53. good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012)
> Artist: Kendrick Lamar
> Copies sold: 1 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 283

Source: yakub88 / Shutterstock.com

52. x (2014)
> Artist: Ed Sheeran
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 197

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

51. Some Gave All (1992)
> Artist: Billy Ray Cyrus
> Copies sold: 9 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 97

Source: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

50. Oops!…I Did It Again (2000)
> Artist: Britney Spears
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 84

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Source: Andreas Rentz / Getty Images for MTV

49. Born To Die (2012)
> Artist: Lana Del Rey
> Copies sold: 1 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 311

Source: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com

48. Big Willie Style (1997)
> Artist: Will Smith
> Copies sold: 9 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 99

Source: Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

47. Nothing Was The Same (2013)
> Artist: Drake
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 230

Source: Codorado / Wikimedia Commons

46. The Sign (1993)
> Artist: Ace Of Base
> Copies sold: 9 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 102

Source: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

45. Daydream (1995)
> Artist: Mariah Carey
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 81

Source: Ibolya Nyikos / Wikimedia Commons

44. Hangin’ Tough (1988)
> Artist: New Kids On The Block
> Copies sold: 8 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 132

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Source: Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images

43. Mariah Carey (1990)
> Artist: Mariah Carey
> Copies sold: 9 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 113

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images for MTV

42. Recovery (2010)
> Artist: Eminem
> Copies sold: 3 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 309

Source: Alan Light / Wikimedia Commons

41. Forever Your Girl (1988)
> Artist: Paula Abdul
> Copies sold: 7 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 175

Source: Yves Lorson from Kapellen, Belgium / Wikimedia Commons

40. Faith (1987)
> Artist: George Michael
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 96

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39. Night Visions (2012)
> Artist: Imagine Dragons
> Copies sold: 2 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 287

Source: Brian Bahr / Getty Images

38. No Strings Attached (2000)
> Artist: ‘N Sync
> Copies sold: 11 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 82

Source: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

37. Country Grammar (2000)
> Artist: Nelly
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 104

Source: Ian / Wikimedia Commons

36. Like A Virgin (1984)
> Artist: Madonna
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 109

Source: Momento Mori / Wikimedia Commons

35. Cooleyhighharmony (1991)
> Artist: Boyz II Men
> Copies sold: 9 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 133

Source: Terry Wyatt / Getty Images for IEBA

34. Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (1990)
> Artist: M.C. Hammer
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 108

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Source: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

33. Confessions (2004)
> Artist: Usher
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 124

Source: Gerardo Mora / Getty Images

32. Up! (2002)
> Artist: Shania Twain
> Copies sold: 11 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 93

Source: Scott Gries / ImageDirect / Getty Images

31. ‘N Sync (1998)
> Artist: ‘N Sync
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 109

Source: Zulytheslg / Wikimedia Commons

30. Take Care (2011)
> Artist: Drake
> Copies sold: 4 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 265

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Source: Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images

29. Music Box (1993)
> Artist: Mariah Carey
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 128

Source: Mat Hayward / Shutterstock.com

28. Some Hearts (2005)
> Artist: Carrie Underwood
> Copies sold: 8 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 157

Source: George Rose / Getty Images

27. Off The Wall (1979)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Copies sold: 8 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 193

Source: Nicholastbroussard / Wikimedia Commons

26. Licensed To Ill (1986)
> Artist: Beastie Boys
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 152

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

25. The Immaculate Collection (1990)
> Artist: Madonna
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 148

Source: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

24. CrazySexyCool (1994)
> Artist: TLC
> Copies sold: 11 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 119

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Source: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

23. The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
> Artist: Eminem
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 171

Source: Lunchbox LP from Culver City, CA, USA / Wikimedia Commons

22. II (1994)
> Artist: Boyz II Men
> Copies sold: 12 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 99

Source: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

21. 25 (2015)
> Artist: Adele
> Copies sold: 11 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 123

Source: Shutterstock.com

20. Teenage Dream (2010)
> Artist: Katy Perry
> Copies sold: 7 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 236

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Source: jazills / Wikimedia Commons

19. 1989 (2014)
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Copies sold: 9 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 172

Source: Eva Rinaldi / Wikimedia Commons

18. Can’t Slow Down (1983)
> Artist: Lionel Richie
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 160

Source: Vinnie Zuffante / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

17. Bad (1987)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 171

Source: Katherine Brock / Wikimedia Commons

16. The Woman In Me (1995)
> Artist: Shania Twain
> Copies sold: 12 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 107

Source: Krystaleen / Wikimedia Commons

15. Millennium (1999)
> Artist: Backstreet Boys
> Copies sold: 13 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 93

Source: Vince Bucci / Getty Images

14. Purple Rain (Soundtrack) (1984)
> Artist: Prince And The Revolution
> Copies sold: 13 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 124

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Source: Drew de F Fawkes / Wikimedia Commons

13. …Baby One More Time (1999)
> Artist: Britney Spears
> Copies sold: 14 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 103

Source: Eva Rinaldi / Wikimedia Commons

12. Taylor Swift (2006)
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Copies sold: 7 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 275

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images for iHeartMedia

11. Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010)
> Artist: Bruno Mars
> Copies sold: 5 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 368

Source: dephisticate / Wikimedia Commons

10. Fearless (2008)
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 254

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9. Backstreet Boys (1997)
> Artist: Backstreet Boys
> Copies sold: 14 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 133

Source: Asterio Tecson / Wikimedia Commons

8. Whitney Houston (1985)
> Artist: Whitney Houston
> Copies sold: 13 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 176

Source: Ian Gavan / Getty Images

7. Greatest Hits (1973)
> Artist: Elton John
> Copies sold: 17 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 106

Source: Scott Gries / ImageDirect / Getty Images

6. Curtain Call: The Hits (2005)
> Artist: Eminem
> Copies sold: 7 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 386

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

5. The Eminem Show (2002)
> Artist: Eminem
> Copies sold: 10 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 350

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

4. The Bodyguard (1992)
> Artist: Whitney Houston
> Copies sold: 18 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 155

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Source: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

3. Come On Over (1997)
> Artist: Shania Twain
> Copies sold: 20 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 151

Source: Kristopher Harris from Charlotte, NC / Wikimedia Commons

2. 21 (2011)
> Artist: Adele
> Copies sold: 14 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 370

Source: Phil Walter / Getty Images

1. Thriller (1982)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Copies sold: 33 million
> Appearances on Billboard 200: 327

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.