We can argue endlessly about commercial success versus artistic merit, and undeniably there are many wonderful albums which will never receive the credit they deserve. The top five best-selling of all time, however, makes for a reasonable list, all things considered. Although officially at number four, I’m excluding The Eagles’ “Their Greatest Hits” because it’s a compilation album, and because I can!
- “Thriller”(1982) by Michael Jackson. Sales: 50 Million. An unsurprising entry at number one. Thriller shook up the popular music landscape and marked Jackson as an era-defining musician. It’s a record by an artist who will forever be mired in controversy, of course, and it is up to the individual to decided if this remains a listenable record.
2. “Back in Black” by AC/DC (1980). Sales: 30 Million. A classic album cover, which prompted a hilarious parody in the wonderful comedy film “This Is Spinal Tap,” Australian rockers AC/DC produced the defining rock album for generations to come.
3. “The Bodyguard Soundtrack” (1992) by Whitney Houston/Various Artists. Sales: 32 Million. Also containing one of the top-five best-selling singles of all time, Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” (originally penned by Dolly Parton).
4. “Bat Out of Hell” (1977) by Meat Loaf. Sales: 22 Million. Nobody quite does rock ballads like the irrepressible Marvin Lee Aday, aka Meat Loaf. The title-track and, of course, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” were huge sellers on the single’s charts.
5. “Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) by Pink Floyd. Sales: 25 Million. A classic among classics. The haunting, melancholic music of Pink Floyd can still be heard drifting from the windows of student campuses across America and, particularly, their native UK. Long may that continue.