Special Report

The Best-Selling Pop Albums of All Time

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From the 1950s through the late ‘60s, pop music was synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll. After Billboard began listing the 200 top-selling albums in 1967, rock bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin had some of the earliest record-breakers. (Here’s a list of the most popular album every year since 1960.)

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, soul, disco, R&B, and funk began to influence the charts, with multiple hit albums from Michael Jackson, as well as chart-toppers from Prince, the Bee Gees, and Lionel Richie. The ‘90s brought both rap and country into the mainstream, including four top albums from pop country star Garth Brooks — well-represented among the 40 most popular country music albums of all time.

24/7 Tempo has compiled the 100 best-selling pop albums since Billboard started keeping track. Of the top 100, a quarter are by female musicians (counting bands with a female lead singer). Country crossover stars Shania Twain and Taylor Swift each boast three on the list. The sub-genres of pop represented in the list 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.

Click here to see the best-selling pop albums of all time

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 No. 1, for instance, being worth 200 times more than a week spent at No. 200); and total certified U.S. album sales according to the Recording Industry Association of America. All metrics were evenly weighted.

100. Let’s Talk About Love (1997)
> Artist: Celine Dion
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 84

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99. Whitney (1987)
> Artist: Whitney Houston
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 88

98. Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (1995)
> Artist: The Smashing Pumpkins
> Certification: 8X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 93

97. Mariah Carey (1990)
> Artist: Mariah Carey
> Certification: 9X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 113

96. The Lion King (1994)
> Artist: Soundtrack
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 89

95. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)
> Artist: OutKast
> Certification: 11X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 56

94. Hi Infidelity (1980)
> Artist: REO Speedwagon
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 101

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93. Escape (1981)
> Artist: Journey
> Certification: 9X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 152

92. All Eyez On Me (1996)
> Artist: 2Pac
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 122

91. Confessions (2004)
> Artist: Usher
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 126

90. Like A Virgin (1984)
> Artist: Madonna
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 109

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89. Cooleyhighharmony (1991)
> Artist: Boyz II Men
> Certification: 9X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 133

88. x (2014)
> Artist: Ed Sheeran
> Certification: 4X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 312

87. Life After Death (1997)
> Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.
> Certification: 11X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 87

86. Pyromania (1983)
> Artist: Def Leppard
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 123

85. Licensed To Ill (1986)
> Artist: Beastie Boys
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 152

84. Music Box (1993)
> Artist: Mariah Carey
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 128

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83. The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
> Artist: Eminem
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 171

82. Some Hearts (2005)
> Artist: Carrie Underwood
> Certification: 8X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 157

81. Country Grammar (2000)
> Artist: Nelly
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 104

80. Off The Wall (1979)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Certification: 9X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 193

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79. Unplugged (1992)
> Artist: Eric Clapton
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 139

78. The Joshua Tree (1987)
> Artist: U2
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 121

77. Tragic Kingdom (1996)
> Artist: No Doubt
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 91

76. Faith (1987)
> Artist: George Michael
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 96

75. The Immaculate Collection (1990)
> Artist: Madonna
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 148

74. No Strings Attached (2000)
> Artist: ‘N Sync
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 82

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73. Dookie (1994)
> Artist: Green Day
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 116

72. Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (1990)
> Artist: M.C. Hammer
> Certification: 7X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 108

71. The Stranger (1977)
> Artist: Billy Joel
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 137

70. Up! (2002)
> Artist: Shania Twain
> Certification: 11X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 93

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69. Stoney (2016)
> Artist: Post Malone
> Certification: 5X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 230

68. ‘N Sync (1998)
> Artist: ‘N Sync
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 109

67. Bad (1987)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 171

66. Houses Of The Holy (1973)
> Artist: Led Zeppelin
> Certification: 11X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 106

65. Teenage Dream (2010)
> Artist: Katy Perry
> Certification: 8X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 241

64. Views (2016)
> Artist: Drake
> Certification: 6X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 260

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63. Devil Without A Cause (1999)
> Artist: Kid Rock
> Certification: 11X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 111

62. Eliminator (1983)
> Artist: ZZ Top
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 185

61. Can’t Slow Down (1983)
> Artist: Lionel Richie
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 160

60. good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012)
> Artist: Kendrick Lamar
> Certification: 3X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 445

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59. Traveller (2015)
> Artist: Chris Stapleton
> Certification: 4X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 295

58. Garth Brooks (1990)
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 224

57. Led Zeppelin II (1969)
> Artist: Led Zeppelin
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 117

56. Taylor Swift (2006)
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Certification: 7X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 275

55. Human Clay (1999)
> Artist: Creed
> Certification: 11X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 104

54. Bat Out Of Hell (1977)
> Artist: Meat Loaf
> Certification: 14X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 82

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53. Fly (1999)
> Artist: Dixie Chicks
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 131

52. II (1994)
> Artist: Boyz II Men
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 99

51. Slippery When Wet (1986)
> Artist: Bon Jovi
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 118

50. CrazySexyCool (1994)
> Artist: TLC
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 119

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49. 25 (2015)
> Artist: Adele
> Certification: 11X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 183

48. The Woman In Me (1995)
> Artist: Shania Twain
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 107

47. Come Away With Me (2002)
> Artist: Norah Jones
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 164

46. Pieces Of You (1996)
> Artist: Jewel
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 114

45. No Jacket Required (1985)
> Artist: Phil Collins
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 123

44. Yourself Or Someone Like You (1997)
> Artist: matchbox 20
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 121

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43. Millennium (1999)
> Artist: Backstreet Boys
> Certification: 13X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 93

42. Falling Into You (1996)
> Artist: Celine Dion
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 113

41. Purple Rain (Soundtrack) (1984)
> Artist: Prince and the Revolution
> Certification: 13X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 143

40. Fearless (2008)
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 261

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39. All The Right Reasons (2005)
> Artist: Nickelback
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 206

38. Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010)
> Artist: Bruno Mars
> Certification: 6X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 519

37. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
> Artist: The Beatles
> Certification: 11X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 232

36. Hysteria (1987)
> Artist: Def Leppard
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 136

35. Physical Graffiti (1975)
> Artist: Led Zeppelin
> Certification: 16X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 48

34. Wide Open Spaces (1998)
> Artist: Dixie Chicks
> Certification: 4X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 134

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33. Breathless (1992)
> Artist: Kenny G
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 214

32. …Baby One More Time (1999)
> Artist: Britney Spears
> Certification: 14X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 103

31. Take Care (2011)
> Artist: Drake
> Certification: 6X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 427

30. 1989 (2014)
> Artist: Taylor Swift
> Certification: 9X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 334

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29. [Hybrid Theory] (2000)
> Artist: Linkin Park
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 256

28. Ropin’ The Wind (1991)
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Certification: 14X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 132

27. Nevermind (1991)
> Artist: Nirvana
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 523

26. Supernatural (1999)
> Artist: Santana
> Certification: 15X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 103

25. Whitney Houston (1985)
> Artist: Whitney Houston
> Certification: 13X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 176

24. Backstreet Boys (1997)
> Artist: Backstreet Boys
> Certification: 14X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 133

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23. Tapestry (1971)
> Artist: Carole King
> Certification: 13X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 318

22. The Eminem Show (2002)
> Artist: Eminem
> Certification: 10X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 396

21. Saturday Night Fever (1976)
> Artist: Bee Gees
> Certification: 16X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 137

20. Abbey Road (1969)
> Artist: The Beatles
> Certification: 12X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 409

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19. Ten (1992)
> Artist: Pearl Jam
> Certification: 13X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 264

18. Born In The U.S.A. (1984)
> Artist: Bruce Springsteen
> Certification: 15X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 143

17. Boston (1976)
> Artist: Boston
> Certification: 17X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 138

16. Jagged Little Pill (1995)
> Artist: Alanis Morissette
> Certification: 16X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 127

15. Double Live (1998)
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Certification: 21X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 56

14. Appetite For Destruction (1987)
> Artist: Guns N’ Roses
> Certification: 18X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 249

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13. No Fences (1990)
> Artist: Garth Brooks
> Certification: 18X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 224

12. Cracked Rear View (1994)
> Artist: Hootie & The Blowfish
> Certification: 21X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 129

11. The Wall (1979)
> Artist: Pink Floyd
> Certification: 23X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 157

10. Come On Over (1997)
> Artist: Shania Twain
> Certification: 20X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 151

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9. 21 (2011)
> Artist: Adele
> Certification: 14X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 507

8. The Beatles [White Album] (1968)
> Artist: The Beatles
> Certification: 24X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 215

7. The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
> Artist: Pink Floyd
> Certification: 15X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 957

6. Hotel California (1976)
> Artist: Eagles
> Certification: 26X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 132

5. Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
> Artist: Led Zeppelin
> Certification: 23X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 283

4. Metallica (1991)
> Artist: Metallica
> Certification: 16X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 606

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3. Rumours (1977)
> Artist: Fleetwood Mac
> Certification: 20X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 423

2. Back In Black (1980)
> Artist: AC/DC
> Certification: 25X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 462

1. Thriller (1982)
> Artist: Michael Jackson
> Certification: 33X multi-platinum
> Weeks on Billboard 200 chart: 469

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