Special Report

100 Best Albums of All Time

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In a time when streaming services dominate the music industry and singles and individual plays drive the business, some might consider albums to be a dying art form.

Since the emergence of Napster in 1999, music lovers have had the choice to download only their favorite individual tracks without hearing another song from the album. It wasn’t long ago, however, that full album sales were the engine that powered the music industry. As recently as the mid-1990s, physical album sales topped over $20 billion annually in the United States.

While some critics cite this single-driven model as the downfall of critical listening, full-length releases are alive and well outside of mainstream pop. In fact, this year’s Record Store Day event helped push the industry to its third highest vinyl record sales week since 1991. So while pop mega-stars may live and die by singles, it’s clear that music fans still crave the immersive experience that only a full-length album can offer. For those who prefer singles, these are the best songs in history.

Though music fans often agree on which albums they prefer, we may never find a truly acceptable metric for what constitutes a great album. Today’s music industry is more diverse than ever as artists use the internet to meld genres and cross boundaries. Listeners have also developed more expansive tastes since access to music has become easier. As the old adage says, there’s no accounting for taste and what stands as a collection of truly great songs to one listener may be unlistenable to another. The few undeniable measures of greatness we have for albums are albums sales and chart success.

To find the 100 best albums of all time, 24/7 Tempo ranked albums based primarily on commercial success. Unlike some critics’ lists, we’ve left our opinions out of it and ranked these albums on sales figures, public reach, and fan appreciation. Our list includes albums by artists like The Beatles, who achieved critical acclaim, as well as by some that took the music world by storm without gaining much love from industry tastemakers. These are 50 fascinating facts about the Beatles.

Click here to see the 100 best albums of all time.

To determine the best albums of all time, 24/7 Tempo generated an index based on an album’s rankings on the Billboard 200 chart, lifetime album sales, and user ratings on Ranker.com’s “The Greatest Albums of All Time.”

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 U.S. market with a threshold of 500,000 units sold. 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.

To be included, an album was required to have a rating of at least 4 out of 5 from both users as well as critics on the music website AllMusic.

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100. Hunky Dory (1971)
> Artist: David Bowie
> Copies sold in U.S.: N/A
> Billboard 200 peak position: 57

“Hunky Dory” includes some of David Bowie’s best loved hits, including “Changes” and “Life on Mars.” The album wasn’t an instant hit, however, and only broke into the top five on the U.K. albums chart after “Ziggy Stardust” was released in 1972.

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99. 12 x 5 (1964)
> Artist: The Rolling Stones
> Copies sold in U.S.: 0.5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 3

The Rolling Stones flew their flag as a new breed of R&B performers with “12X5.” The album includes only two original tracks, but it has become a favorite for Stones diehards, selling an equivalent 3.8 million copies worldwide since its release, including physical, downloads, and streams.

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98. Hi Infidelity (1980)
> Artist: REO Speedwagon
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

REO Speedwagon’s “Hi Fidelity” defined ’80s rock with singles like “Take It on the Run” and “Keep On Loving You.” In 2017, it was certified diamond by the RIAA for sales over 10 million.

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97. Green River (1969)
> Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
> Copies sold in U.S.: 3 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Green River” was CCR’s third studio release and cemented the group as one of the leading voices in the late-60s Americana rock movement. Rolling Stone’s Bruce Miroff called the album “joyously kinetic” and said “it is hard to listen to it without feeling like getting up and dancing.”

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96. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
> Artist: Elton John
> Copies sold in U.S.: 8 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” hit the top of the Billboard 200 chart in 1973. The album made such a powerful impact on rock music that it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003.

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95. Fresh Cream (1966)
> Artist: Cream
> Copies sold in U.S.: 0.5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 39

“Fresh Cream” peaked at just No. 39 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1968 but signalled big things to come for the iconic trio. It would be certified gold with sales over 500,000 by the RIAA within its first year out.

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94. janet. (1993)
> Artist: Janet Jackson
> Copies sold in U.S.: 6 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

The cover art to Janet Jackson’s 1993 smash “janet.” features a cropped image of the singer — topless — with her breasts covered by the hands of an anonymous man. The full image appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1993. The magazine’s editors guessed the hands belonged to her then-husband Rene Elizondo, but they never could never confirm this because Jackson submitted the photo from a private shoot.

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93. Smash (1994)
> Artist: The Offspring
> Copies sold in U.S.: 6 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 4

“Smash” by The Offspring broke the California punk-rock band through to international success with singles including “Come Out and Play” and “Self Esteem.” The album peaked at No. 4 on Billboard 200 chart in 1994 and remained on the chart for 101 weeks before falling off.

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92. Between the Buttons (1967)
> Artist: The Rolling Stones
> Copies sold in U.S.: 0.5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 2

The Rolling Stones made a brief sidestep into the world of psychedelic rock with “Between the Buttons.” The album’s biggest hit “Ruby Tuesday” was a straight-ahead rock single, however, and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart on March 4, 1967.

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91. Wheels of Fire (1968)
> Artist: Cream
> Copies sold in U.S.: 0.5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Wheels of Fire” marked the third release from Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, and Eric Clapton. The double album features half studio recordings and half live recordings from shows recorded in 1968.

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90. Van Halen (1978)
> Artist: Van Halen
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 19

Van Halen’s self-titled debut release peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard 200 chart but introduced the world to a new era of guitar rock. Critics lauded Eddie Van Halen’s singular guitar style, with AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine noting “it altered perceptions of what the guitar could do.”

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89. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966)
> Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
> Copies sold in U.S.: 3 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 4

“Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” followed shortly on the heels of Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 sophomore release “Sound of Silence.” The release, which features the duo’s beloved take on the traditional song “Scarborough Fair,” sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. since its release.

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88. Seal (1994)
> Artist: Seal
> Copies sold in U.S.: 4 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 15

Seal’s 1994 self-titled album followed his 1991 debut album, which was also self-titled. Despite the name peculiarities, the second release proved to be a massive hit thanks to “Kiss from a Rose,” which earned the singer three Grammy Awards in 1995.

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87. Sticky Fingers (1971)
> Artist: The Rolling Stones
> Copies sold in U.S.: 3 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Sticky Fingers” was The Rolling Stones’ ninth British full-length release. It includes the iconic classic tracks “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses,” “Can You Hear Me Knocking,” and “Dead Flowers.” The album earned commercial and critical acclaim with famed rock critic Lester Bangs saying he “played ‘Sticky Fingers’ more than any other record” that year.

Source: Hunter Desportes / Wikimedia Commons

86. In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
> Artist: King Crimson
> Copies sold in U.S.: 0.5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 28

King Crimson’s “In The Court of the Crimson King” failed to break into the top 25 on the Billboard 200 chart but has left a powerful legacy. In 2015, Rolling Stone named the album the second greatest prog rock album of all time behind Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

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85. Crash (1996)
> Artist: Dave Matthews Band
> Copies sold in U.S.: 7 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 2

“Crash” by the Dave Matthews Band followed their 1994 breakout smash “Under the Table and Dreaming” and helped lock DMB as one of the biggest bands of the 1990s. The album has since been certified seven times platinum by the RIAA.

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84. Electric Warrior (1971)
> Artist: T. Rex
> Copies sold in U.S.: N/A
> Billboard 200 peak position: 32

“Electric Warrior” shot to the top of the U.K. albums chart in 1971 with help from the band’s signature hit single “Get It On.” The album hung on at the top of the charts in Britain for eight weeks.

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83. The Stranger (1977)
> Artist: Billy Joel
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 2

“The Stranger” marked Billy Joel’s seventh studio release. It features the beloved tracks “Movin’ Out,” “Only the Good Die Young” and “She’s Always a Woman.” Another classic on this album is “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” which was never released as a single but holds a permanent place in Joel’s live sets.

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82. Surfin’ USA (1963)
> Artist: The Beach Boys
> Copies sold in U.S.: 0.5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 11

“Surfin’ USA” peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 chart on Aug. 31, 1963 and brought the California surf rockers to a new level of fame. In 1990, Brian Wilson recalled that period, saying, “It was the big time for us.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons

81. The Time Has Come (1967)
> Artist: Chambers Brothers
> Copies sold in U.S.: 0.5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 4

The Chambers Brothers broke through to national success with the “The Time Has Come” in 1968. The album’s hit single “Time Has Come Today,” which melds psychedelic music with R&B, helped propel the album to the No. 4 spot on the Billboard 200 chart.

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80. Abraxas (1970)
> Artist: Santana
> Copies sold in U.S.: 5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va” are two of Carlos Santana’s most iconic tracks and both are featured on “Abraxas.” The latter was penned by Tito Puente, who generously credits Santana for popularizing the song on his 1999 release “Mambo Birdland.”

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79. Dookie (1994)
> Artist: Green Day
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 2

“Dookie” was a breakout smash for Green Day, but it wasn’t an immediate success. The album was released in February of 1994 but sold a mere 9,000 copies in its first week. It wasn’t until the following year that the album found chart success and eventually peaked at No. 2 in America.

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78. Help! (1965)
> Artist: The Beatles
> Copies sold in U.S.: 3 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

The Beatles were nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys in 1965 for “Help!” Despite the album’s success, John Lennon admitted the title song was a literal “cry for help” from the excesses of fame and fortune.

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77. Like a Virgin (1984)
> Artist: Madonna
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Like a Virgin” launched Madonna into super stardom not only as a recording artist, but also a live act. She jumped from playing local New York City dives to stadiums. “The Virgin Tour” grossed somewhere between $3.3 million and $5 million.

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76. Nick of Time (1989)
> Artist: Bonnie Raitt
> Copies sold in U.S.: 5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Bonnie Raitt struggled with depression and alcoholism before recording “Nick of Time.” After suffering a debilitating skiing accident, the singer decided to quit drinking and entered the studio with a newfound musical clarity. “Nick of Time” peaked at No. 1.

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75. Off the Wall (1979)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Copies sold in U.S.: 8 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 3

“Off the Wall” spent 193 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at No. 3 on Feb. 16, 1980. Michael Jackson had signed with Epic Records just before the release, and label heads initially objected to the singer working with his new producer Quincy Jones. They were proved wrong.

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74. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
> Artist: Lauryn Hill
> Copies sold in U.S.: 8 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Lauryn Hill broke out as a solo artist with 1998’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” She won four Grammys for the release that year — in addition to the award for Best New Artist. The album was added the Library of Congress for historic preservation in 2015.

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73. Electric Ladyland (1968)
> Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
> Copies sold in U.S.: 2 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Electric Ladyland” was the final release for The Jimi Hendrix Experience before the guitar god moved on to his Band of Gypsies project. It was also their only No. 1 hit, topping the Billboard 200 chart on Nov. 16, 1968.

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72. Speak Now (2010)
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Copies sold in U.S.: 6 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” has been a huge commercial success since its release, moving more than 6 million copies. It has also earned critical acclaim, landing at No. 66 on Billboard’s list of the 200 All Time Greatest Albums by Women.

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71. An Innocent Man (1983)
> Artist: Billy Joel
> Copies sold in U.S.: 7 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 4

“An Innocent Man” is Billy Joel’s ninth studio release. The album scored a number of award nominations for Joel, including two American Music Awards and Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Uptown Girl.”

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70. The Fame (2008)
> Artist: Lady Gaga
> Copies sold in U.S.: 3 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 2

Lady Gaga broke through to international success with her dance-music infused debut “The Fame” in 2008. The release landed at No. 8 on Billboard’s year-end chart in 2009 and peaked on the Billboard 200 in early 2010 at No. 2.

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69. Spice (1996)
> Artist: Spice Girls
> Copies sold in U.S.: 7 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

The Spice Girls proved that girl power was big business with their 1996 smash debut “Spice.” The release hit No. 19 on Billboard’s list of the Top Pop Albums of the 1990s and has sold over 23 million copies worldwide.

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68. Licensed to Ill (1986)
> Artist: Beastie Boys
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“License to Ill” features some of the Beastie Boys’ best loved hits, including “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!),” “Brass Monkey,” “Girls,” and “No Sleep till Brooklyn.” In 1998, The Source Magazine added the album to its list of the 100 Best Rap Albums.

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67. Red (2012)
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Copies sold in U.S.: 6 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Taylor Swift topped the Billboard Top Country Albums and 200 chart with “Red” in 2012. It was her fourth studio album, and the singer revealed that she chose the title to reflect the colorful nature of her relationships at the time.

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66. Escape (1981)
> Artist: Journey
> Copies sold in U.S.: 9 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Journey scored two top-10 hit singles with their 1981 release “Escape.” The highest charting track from this release was “Open Arms” at No. 2. “Don’t Stop Believin'” peaked at No. 9.

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65. Some Girls (1978)
> Artist: The Rolling Stones
> Copies sold in U.S.: 6 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Critics lauded “Some Girls” as a return to classic form for The Rolling Stones, with Robert Christgau calling it their best offering since “Exile on Mainstreet.” Rolling Stone Magazine agreed, naming it number 270 on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

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64. Meet the Beatles! (1964)
> Artist: The Beatles
> Copies sold in U.S.: 5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Meet the Beatles!” was the band’s second full-length release. It was released in January of 1964 and sold over 4 million copies by the end of that year. The album features the classic track “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

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63. The Velvet Underground (1969)
> Artist: The Velvet Underground
> Copies sold in U.S.: N/A
> Billboard 200 peak position: 197

The Velvet Underground’s eponymous second album was considered a strong release following its 1968 debut, and it earned mostly positive reviews. Despite critical acclaim, the album failed to enter the Billboard 200 chart until 1985, when it peaked at No. 197.

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62. Steppenwolf (1968)
> Artist: Steppenwolf
> Copies sold in U.S.: 0.5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 6

Steppenwolf’s self-titled debut brought the band to national fame with help from their hit single “Born to Be Wild.” The iconic song was included in the classic 1969 film “Easy Rider” starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.

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61. Pyromania (1983)
> Artist: Def Leppard
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 2

“Pyromania” hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in 1983 and has since sold over 10 million copies in the United States. Band member Joe Elliot also revealed in 2015 that Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott decided to break up his band after hearing an advanced copy of the album, claiming he could no longer compete.

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60. Sports (1983)
> Artist: Huey Lewis & the News
> Copies sold in U.S.: 7 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Huey Lewis & the News self-produced “Sports” followed the release of their second album “Picture This.” The band celebrated the album’s 30th anniversary in 2013 with a national tour and a press release at the time that claimed the album was nearing RIAA diamond certification.

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59. Throwing Copper (1994)
> Artist: Live
> Copies sold in U.S.: 8 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Throwing Copper” was the second release from the Pennsylvania-based Live, and it vaulted them into superstardom. Five singles from the album broke into the top 20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart with “Selling Drama” and “Lightning Crashes” hitting No. 1.

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58. Tommy (1969)
> Artist: The Who
> Copies sold in U.S.: 2 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 4

The Who’s 1969 rock opera “Tommy” was their fourth release and most ambitious to date. It was released to widespread critical acclaim, and fans snapped up copies, pushing the album to a gold certification from the RIAA by August of 1969.

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57. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968)
> Artist: Iron Butterfly
> Copies sold in U.S.: 4 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 4

“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly represented the peak of psychedelic rock in the late 1960s. It led Billboard’s Top Albums of 1969 chart and has since gone on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide.

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56. Whitney (1987)
> Artist: Whitney Houston
> Copies sold in U.S.: 9 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Whitney Houston had already won a Grammy by the time “Whitney” was released, but this was the album that made her a global superstar. The first four singles from this album all topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making Houston the first female artist ever to earn the achievement.

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55. Pet Sounds (1966)
> Artist: The Beach Boys
> Copies sold in U.S.: 1 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 10

“Pet Sounds” was the Beach Boys’ 11th studio record and marked an experimental new approach from lead songwriter and producer Brian Wilson. Today, the album is considered one of the greatest in rock history, landing at No. 2 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It was also enshrined at the Library of Congress in 2005.

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54. Bad (1987)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Bad,” the pop icon’s seventh studio release, was set up for a challenge following the phenomenal success of “Thriller.” Within four years, however, the release had sold an eye-popping 25 million copies worldwide, making it the second highest-selling album of all time behind “Thriller.”

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53. Faith (1987)
> Artist: George Michael
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

George Michael had already found international success as half of Wham! before going solo with his debut release “Faith.” The album brought Michael beyond the realm of teen pop and earned him the Album of the Year Grammy in 1988.

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52. The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
> Artist: Eminem
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“The Marshall Mathers LP” was controversial for its dark subject matter in 2000, but it still found massive critical and commercial success. The release finished the year at No. 3 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart for 2000.

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51. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)
> Artist: The Smashing Pumpkins
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Smashing Pumpkins’ sprawling 28-track release “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” was their third studio release and became their only No. 1 hit on the Billboard 200 chart. The release also earned the band seven Grammy nominations in 1997.

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50. Bat Out of Hell (1977)
> Artist: Meat Loaf
> Copies sold in U.S.: 14 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 14

Meat Loaf had gained success as a Broadway actor in the Los Angeles company of “Hair” before releasing “Bat Out of Hell.” The album peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 chart but has since gone on to become the 33rd best selling album of all time.

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49. MCMXC a.D. (1990)
> Artist: Enigma
> Copies sold in U.S.: 4 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 6

“MCMXC a.D.” was Michael Cretu’s debut album under the name “Enigma” and introduced mainstream audiences to a new, longer-form version of music sampling. While influential among songwriters and producers, it was also a commercial success and has been certified four times platinum by the RIAA.

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48. Slippery When Wet (1986)
> Artist: Bon Jovi
> Copies sold in U.S.: 12 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” features some of the band’s best-loved tracks, including “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” and “Wanted Dead or Alive.” The album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart on Oct. 25, 1986 and remained on the chart for 118 weeks.

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47. Hysteria (1987)
> Artist: Def Leppard
> Copies sold in U.S.: 12 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Hysteria” unveiled a more pop-oriented sound for Def Leppard caused partly by the adoption of the electronic drum set by Rick Allen after he lost his left arm. The new direction was a hit, and the album has gone on to top many best-of lists, including Rolling Stone’s 50 Greatest Hair Metal Albums.

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46. Tragic Kingdom (1995)
> Artist: No Doubt
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

No Doubt exploded onto mainstream rock radio with their third release “Tragic Kingdom” in 1995. The album had a string of successful singles, including “Just A Girl,” “Don’t Speak,” and “Spiderwebs,” and it currently sits at No. 67 on Billboard’s Greatest of All Time 200 chart.

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45. Eliminator (1983)
> Artist: ZZ Top
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 9

For “Eliminator,” ZZ Top intentionally adopted a new synth-based sound to match the trends in 80s pop music. “Gimme All Your Lovin,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” and “Legs” all charted on the Billboard Hot 100, with the latter peaking at No. 8.

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44. Confessions (2004)
> Artist: Usher
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Usher’s “Confessions” was hotly anticipated and became the most shipped album of 2004, at 8 million copies. It was also a critical success, landing the singer three Grammys, including Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.

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43. Take Care (2011)
> Artist: Drake
> Copies sold in U.S.: 4 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Drake debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with “Take Care” on Dec. 3, 2011. The released earned high praise from many top critics, including NPR’s Anne Powers, who said its lyrics were “emblematic of our moment of crashed markets and occupied streets.”

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42. Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
> Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
> Copies sold in U.S.: 8 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” was the final release for Simon and Garfunkel and proved a lasting success for the duo. It topped charts worldwide and was especially popular in the United Kingdom, where it finished as the No. 1 album of the 1970s on the Official Charts Company’s decade-end chart.

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41. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
> Artist: the Beatles
> Copies sold in U.S.: 6 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” has been certified platinum six times, but all that success was not by design. Speaking with Rolling Stones, George Harrison said of that period in the band’s career, “we were in our psychedelic motorcars with our permed hair, and we were permanently stoned.”

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40. Human Clay (1999)
> Artist: Creed
> Copies sold in U.S.: 11 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Human Clay” earned mixed reviews for Creed upon its release but was a runaway smash with record buyers. Since 1999, the album has sold over 11 million copies, and the single “With Arms Wide Open” landed Creed the 2001 Grammy for Best Rock Song.

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39. Are You Experienced (1967)
> Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
> Copies sold in U.S.: 5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 5

This debut release from The Jimi Hendrix Experience melded rock, blues, and R&B in a way that had never been heard by mainstream audiences. Smithsonian musicologist Rueben Jackson told NPR in 2006, “It altered the syntax of the music, if you will, in a way I compare to, say, James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses.'”

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38. No Jacket Required (1985)
> Artist: Phil Collins
> Copies sold in U.S.: 12 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“No Jacket Required” was Phil Collins’s third solo release. It features his classic tracks “Sussudio” and “Don’t Lose My Number.” Despite the album’s commercial success, Collins has admitted that it is among his least favorite.

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37. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962)
> Artist: Ray Charles
> Copies sold in U.S.: 0.5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 25

Ray Charles expanded to a new, largely white sector of music fans with the release of “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.” He was rewarded handsomely on the charts, peaking at No. 25 on the Billboard 200 chart and No. 1 on the Pop Albums chart in 1963.

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36. CrazySexyCool (1994)
> Artist: TLC
> Copies sold in U.S.: 11 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 3

TLC had found top-20 success with their debut release but truly blew up with “CrazySexyCool.” The album won Grammys for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance for “Creep” in 1995. It has since been certified 11 times platinum.

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

35. Falling into You (1996)
> Artist: Celine Dion
> Copies sold in U.S.: 11 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Falling Into You” was a global chart-topping phenomenon for Celine Dion in 1996. It has had tremendous staying power over the years and currently sits at No. 21 on Billboard’s Greatest All Time 200 chart.

Source: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

34. Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
> Artist: Bruce Springsteen
> Copies sold in U.S.: 15 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Born in the U.S.A.” was a massive critical and commercial hit for Bruce Springsteen, but the rock icon admits that he has never fully loved the album. In Bob Kirkpatrick’s book “Magic in the Night,” Springsteen notes, “I wanted to take [“Nebraska”] and electrify it but it didn’t really flesh out like I had hoped it would.”

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Source: Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images

33. Can’t Slow Down (1983)
> Artist: Lionel Richie
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Lionel Richie continued his reign atop R&B with his second solo release “Can’t Slow Down.” The album includes five top-10 radio hits, including “All Night Long (All Night)” and “Hello,” both of which hit No. 1.

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

32. Come Away With Me (2002)
> Artist: Norah Jones
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Come Away With Me” has been certified 10 times platinum by the RIAA since its release in 2002, but it wasn’t an immediate success for Norah Jones. The album debuted at a modest 139 spot on the Billboard 200 chart and slowly ascended until it claimed the top spot the following year.

Source: Matt King / Getty Images

31. Tapestry (1971)
> Artist: Carole King
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Carole King’s “Tapestry” was an immediate critical and commercial success in 1971 and proved historic at the Grammys in 1971. King won four Grammys that night and became the first woman to win Record of the Year as a solo act and the first to win Song of the Year.

Source: Central Press / Getty Images

30. The Doors (1967)
> Artist: The Doors
> Copies sold in U.S.: 4 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 2

The Doors’ self-titled debut album contributed three classic tracks to the rock cannon — “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” “Light My Fire,” and “The End.” Rolling Stone ranked the album No. 42 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2012.

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Source: Evening Standard / Getty Images

29. Physical Graffiti (1975)
> Artist: Led Zeppelin
> Copies sold in U.S.: 16 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Physical Graffiti” was a hit before it was even released and became the first album ever to go platinum on pre-orders alone. Lead singer Robert Plant has openly stated it’s one of his favorite Led Zeppelin albums and feels it marked the band’s creative peak.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

28. Boston (1976)
> Artist: Boston
> Copies sold in U.S.: 17 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 3

Boston’s debut release helped introduce the tight, pristine sounds of the improved recording technology of the late 1970s. This was especially true with the album’s signature hit single “More Than a Feeling,” which hit No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Source: Keystone Features / Getty Images

27. Wish You Were Here (1975)
> Artist: Pink Floyd
> Copies sold in U.S.: 6 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Wish You Were Here” pulled in 900,000 advanced sales in the lead up to its 1975 release, making it one of the most successful Columbia Records releases to date. Despite the commercial success, the album found mixed reviews, with Rolling Stone blasting “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” as an ineffectual attempt to address the band’s co-founder and former lead singer Syd Barrett’s mental unraveling.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

26. Led Zeppelin (1969)
> Artist: Led Zeppelin
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 7

With their 1969 self-titled debut, Led Zeppelin brought the rollicking blues rock popularized by Cream and The Who to an even heavier place. The album broke into the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart, but the band initially struggled for credibility with critics, who considered them a contrived supergroup.

Source: Sonia Recchia / Getty Images

25. Jagged Little Pill (1995)
> Artist: Alanis Morissette
> Copies sold in U.S.: 16 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Alanis Morissette was already a platinum-selling teen star in her native Canada before “Jagged Little Pill” launched her to international fame. The album earned Morissette four Grammys in 1995, and at the time, she was the youngest person ever to have won Album of the Year.

Source: Larry Busacca / Getty Images

24. Hotel California (1976)
> Artist: Eagles
> Copies sold in U.S.: 16 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Hotel California” entered the Billboard 200 chart at No. 4 but reached No. 1 by Jan. 15, 1977. As the band’s fifth release, the album marked a renewed vigor in their creative process and yielded the classic title track along with “The New Kid in Town” and “Life in the Fast Lane.”

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Source: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

23. Supernatural (1999)
> Artist: Santana
> Copies sold in U.S.: 15 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Supernatural” was a mega-smash hit for Carlos Santana in 1999, and it has since gone onto to be certified 15 times platinum by the RIAA. It also marked a historic comeback for the guitarist, earning him the Guinness World Record for the longest gap between charting hit songs at 28 years.

Source: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

22. Whitney Houston (1985)
> Artist: Whitney Houston
> Copies sold in U.S.: 13 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Whitney Houston” introduced the world to the beloved pop diva with the hit singles “Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know,” and “Greatest Love of All.” The album made Houston the first solo female act to hit No. 1 with her first three singles and also one of the few to hold the No. 1 pop album and No. 1 single simultaneously.

Source: Rob Loud / Getty Images

21. Ten (1991)
> Artist: Pearl Jam
> Copies sold in U.S.: 13 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 2

Guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament formed Pearl Jam following the breakup of their previous band Mother Love Bone. The new band’s harder-edged sound, with lead singer Eddie Vedder, generated the hit singles “Even Flow,” “Alive” and “Jeremy,” all of which broke the top 20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

Source: Express / Getty Images

20. Led Zeppelin II (1969)
> Artist: Led Zeppelin
> Copies sold in U.S.: 12 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Led Zeppelin II” was written and recorded largely during brief downtimes between the band’s nonstop touring in 1969. The album marked a new creative space for the band, not only because of this disparate approach to its creation, but also because it includes Robert Plant’s first lyrical contribution on “Thank You.”

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Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

19. Curtain Call: The Hits (2005)
> Artist: Eminem
> Copies sold in U.S.: 7 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Curtain Call: The Hits” was the first greatest hits collection for Eminem and became the rapper’s fifth straight No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 chart. The album featured Em’s biggest hits to date, including “My Name Is” and “Lose Yourself” along with the previously unreleased singles “When I’m Gone” and “Shake That.”

Source: Keystone Features / Getty Images

18. Rubber Soul (1965)
> Artist: The Beatles
> Copies sold in U.S.: 6 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

With 1965’s “Rubber Soul,” the Beatles kicked off a turn toward greater complexity in mainstream pop music. Critics praised the band’s forward-looking approach, and fans responded in kind, pushing album to the top of the Billboard Top LPs chart in January of 1966.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

17. Houses of the Holy (1973)
> Artist: Led Zeppelin
> Copies sold in U.S.: 11 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

With four successful albums behind them, Led Zeppelin extended their creative legs on the musically diverse “Houses of the Holy.” Despite its more experimental direction, the album was a commercial success, topping the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Source: yakub88 / Shutterstock.com

16. Appetite for Destruction (1987)
> Artist: Guns N’ Roses
> Copies sold in U.S.: 18 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Guns N’ Roses were initially panned by critics as another chip off the old block of hair metal wannabes with their 1987 debut. The album, however, slowly gained traction within its first year, climbing from 182 to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Source: Express / Getty Images

15. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972)
> Artist: David Bowie
> Copies sold in U.S.: 0.5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 89

“Ziggy Stardust” was David Bowie’s fifth studio release and introduced the world to the singer’s celestial alter ego. It includes rock classics like “Star Man” and “Suffragette City” and was added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in 2017.

Source: Fox Photos / Getty Images

14. Revolver (1966)
> Artist: The Beatles
> Copies sold in U.S.: 5 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Revered by some as the Beatles’ finest album, “Revolver” found the band retired from touring and this unburdened them from the need to recreate their new songs in a live context. It was a boundary-pushing success and was named the greatest album of all time by Entertainment Weekly in 2013.

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Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images

13. No Fences (1990)
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Copies sold in U.S.: 17 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 3

“No Fences” thrust Garth Brooks into global stardom thanks in part to his iconic track, “The Thunder Rolls.” The album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart but went on to become Brooks’ best selling album, earning a diamond certification from the RIAA.

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

12. 21 (2011)
> Artist: Adele
> Copies sold in U.S.: 14 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Adele’s hotly anticipated second album “21” was an instant global smash when it was released on January 24, 2011. It has been certified 14-times platinum by the RIAA since its release and is currently the No. 1 album on Billboard’s Greatest of All Time 200 chart.

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

11. Metallica (1991)
> Artist: Metallica
> Copies sold in U.S.: 16 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Metallica’s self-titled fifth studio release is their best selling album and features some of their most beloved songs, including “Enter Sandman,” “The Unforgiven,” “Sad But True,” and “Wherever I May Roam.” The album went platinum in its first two weeks out and holds the fourth-longest run on the Billboard 200 chart at 540 weeks.

Source: Mike Lawrie / Getty Images

10. Nevermind (1991)
> Artist: Nirvana
> Copies sold in U.S.: 10 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

With the release of their second album “Nevermind” in 1991, Nirvana showed the world that loud guitars could be the face of pop music. Despite the album’s far reaching impact, it debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at No. 144 and only ascended to No. 1 after “Smells Like Teen Spirit” caught fire.

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Source: Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

9. Back in Black (1980)
> Artist: AC/DC
> Copies sold in U.S.: 22 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 4

“Back in Black” was AC/DC’s seventh studio release but became their most successful, thanks to classic tracks including “Hells Bells,” “Shoot to Thrill,” “You Shook Me All Night Long” and the title track. The album is considered a foundational example of modern heavy music and helped pave the way for metal bands to follow.

Source: Gaye Gerard / Getty Images

8. Rumours (1977)
> Artist: Fleetwood Mac
> Copies sold in U.S.: 20 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” is one of the best selling albums of all time, moving over 45 million copies worldwide. The album was a runaway hit in the late 70s as well, landing the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1977 and scoring four top-ten hits on Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Source: Eddie Mallin / Wikimedia Commons

7. Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers (1984)
> Artist: Bob Marley and the Wailers
> Copies sold in U.S.: 15 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 5

“Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers” is the best selling reggae release of all time, moving over 15 million copies in the U.S, according to the RIAA. In 2017, the album earned its 500th non-consecutive week on the Billboard 200 chart, making it the second-longest charting album ever.

Source: Fox Photos / Getty Images

6. The White Album (1968)
> Artist: The Beatles
> Copies sold in U.S.: 19 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“The White Album” came at a time of internal turmoil for the Beatles that resulted in longtime engineer Geoff Emerick quitting midway though the sessions. Though the band didn’t release any singles from the album in the U.S. or Britain, it went on to top the Billboard 200 chart on December 28, 1968.

Source: Express Newspapers / Getty Images

5. Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
> Artist: Led Zeppelin
> Copies sold in U.S.: 23 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 2

In 2002, author Chuck Klosterman called “Led Zeppelin IV” the “most famous hard-rock album ever recorded.” Classic Rock Magazine has also been a fan, handing the album the top spot on its “100 Greatest Rock Albums Ever” and “100 Greatest British Rock Albums Ever” lists.

Source: John Pratt / Getty Images

4. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
> Artist: The Beatles
> Copies sold in U.S.: 11 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

With “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” the Beatles not only shattered perceptions of what pop music could be, they also legitimized the idea of counterculture in the 1960s. The album has maintained its cultural significance, with the editors of Rolling Stone calling it “the most important rock and roll album ever made.”

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Source: Michael Webb / Getty Images

3. Abbey Road (1969)
> Artist: The Beatles
> Copies sold in U.S.: 12 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Abbey Road” was the last album that the Beatles all recorded together. Considered by some critics to be the Beatles finest work, the album has been certified 12-times platinum by the RIAA and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images

2. Thriller (1982)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Copies sold in U.S.: 33 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

“Thriller” was Michael Jackson’s sixth studio album as a solo artist and is the best-selling album of all time at over 66 million copies worldwide. The sound recording was added to the National Recording Registry in 2007 and the title track’s iconic video was added to the National Film Registry in 2009.

Source: Evening Standard / Getty Images

1. The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
> Artist: Pink Floyd
> Copies sold in U.S.: 15 million
> Billboard 200 peak position: 1

Despite Pink Floyd’s considerable success on their previous seven albums, “The Dark Side of the Moon” was their first to break the top 40 in Billboard 200 chart. It hit No. 1 on April 28, 1973, and has since gone on to sell more than 45 million copies worldwide.

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