While the popularity of listening to entire albums straight through has waned in recent years, musicians continue to release music in this format. Certain artists’ albums are exceptionally popular among listeners, selling millions of copies in an age when many fans prefer to stream their music one single at a time.
24/7 Tempo reviewed historical data from the Billboard 200 top album chart going back to 1963, the first year for which Billboard top 200 albums data is available. These rankings are primarily based on physical album sales but include streaming and downloads starting in 2014.
Listeners’ favorite albums have changed dramatically since the LP (long-playing) format gained popularity in the 1950s. The 1960s ushered in the era of rock and roll, which eventually gave way to pop music by artists such as Michael Jackson. Today’s top albums come from musicians such as Taylor Swift, Adele, Drake, Ed Sheeran, and Post Malone.
Some groups that have not produced new music for decades are enjoying a resurgence. One example is Queen, which was boosted by the Oscar-winning film “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Other bands on a rebound are Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles, all of whom recorded some of the most popular albums ever. Here are the 100 best albums of all time.
To determine the most popular album the year you were born, 24/7 Tempo reviewed historical data from the Billboard 200 top album chart going back to 1963. Billboard’s album rankings are based on Nielsen SoundScan sales data.
We ranked the albums based on an aggregate score composed of the number of weeks they spent on the Billboard 200 chart in the year of their release weighted by the position they occupied each week. A week at No. 1, for example, would be worth 200 times more than a week spent at No. 200 in the aggregate score.
An album’s score is based on its performance in the 365 days following its first appearance on the Billboard 200 chart. To be considered, an album must have also reached the No. 1 position on the Billboard 200 for at least one week. Soundtrack albums were excluded from consideration.
Certified U.S. sales refers to certified units as reported by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). These figures reflect albums distributed to retail stores and consumers in the United States, minus returns, as well as digital downloads and streaming.