By Sophie Gatward
America is a rocking nation! Nearly 70% of the Top 20 best selling albums are rock albums. Perhaps the fact that rock places a higher degree of emphasis on ideology of authenticity than pop music does has made it as popular as it is in America’s culture. Rock inherits the tradition of the protest song and makes a great stand against conformity.
According to the RIAA (The Recording Industry Association of America) Michael Jacksons album ‘Thriller’ (1982) and Eagles ‘Their Greatest Hits’ album (1971 – 1975) both went 29x platinum. That’s racking up almost 60 million in shipment sales. It’s not at all surprising when you think back to some of the timeless tracks still played today in movies, radio stations, clubs and living rooms all over the world.
The Eagles are one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time, having sold over 150 million records! They are the highest-selling American band in US history!
Eagles – One of These Nights (Play this video in Creation 5)
Following not far behind is 1971 Led Zeppelins’ untitled album (known as Led Zeppelin IV) which went 23x platinum. The album was released with no print anywhere on the cover – no title, track list or even a catalogue number. Jimmy Page explained in an interview: “We decided that on the fourth album, we would deliberately play down the group name, and there wouldn’t be any information whatsoever on the outer jacket. Names, titles and things like that do not mean a thing.” There are, however, four runes on the inside of the cover – one for each band member – though their meaning was never revealed.
Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven (Play this video in Creation 5)
Their record label, Atlantic, knew exactly how to scout out musical legends, as they also signed AC/DC, and in 1980 their album ‘Back in Black’ was released, going 22x platinum. That’s a whopping 45 million shipment sales between the two of them.
AC/DC – Back in Black (Play this video in Creation 5)
Pink Floyd makes it to the Top 5 with their 1973 ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ selling over 20,500,000 copies. The Dark Side of the Moon has some pretty dark themes: conflict, greed, the passage of time and mental illness. Upon release it was an instant success, topping the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart for one week. It then remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988! It is Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide and is often ranked by critics as one of the greatest albums of all time.
Fleetwood Mac and Guns N’ Roses come in at 6th and 7th place, having just under 20 million copies sold each, though with a ten year lag between the two. With Fleetwoods’ album ‘Rumours’ released in 1977 and Guns N’ Roses ‘Appetite for Destruction’ hitting the American airwaves in 1987. Another ten years into the late 90s Shania Twain’s 1997 album ‘Come On Over’ makes it to 8th place with well over 17.5 million shipment sales and gaining the title of best-selling country music album as well as best-selling studio album by a female act.
9th place on our Top 10 list, and going 17x platinum is Bostons’ self titled album, taking us back to 1976, the same year Eagles came out with ‘Hotel California’. A truly legendary year in music, and although the Eagles went 16x platinum with the album you can never get it out of your head — it doesn’t beat Garth Brooks album ‘No Fences’, the 10th on our list, which came out 24 years ago and went 17x platinum.
Boston – More Than A Feeling (Play this video in Creation 5)
Top 20 U.S. best selling albums
1. Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)
2. Eagles – Their Greatest Hits (1976)
3. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
4. AC/DC – Back in Black (1980)
5. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
6. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)
7. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction (1987)
8. Shania Twain – Come On Over (1997)
9. Boston – Boston (1976)
10. Garth Brooks – No Fences (1990)
11. Eagles – Hotel California (1976)
12. Elton John – Greatest Hits (1974)
13. Hootie & the Blowfish – Cracked Rear View (1994)
14. Metallica – Metallica (1991)
15. Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill (1995)
16. Journey – Greatest Hits (1988)
17. Bee Gees – Saturday Night Fever (1977)
18. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
19. John Travolta / Olivia Newton John – Grease (1978)
20. Backstreet Boys – Backstreet Boys (1997)
If you’re interested in the history of rock music – take a look at this incredible timeline of rock music history
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If you are already using Creation 5 Media app, don’t forget that you can expand your music collection, for free, by downloading any of the video clips that appear in the above article.