Back when there was a way to listen to music without streaming it to your devices, buying physical albums was the best way to show people how broad (or narrow) your taste in music was. You’d stock piles of them on your shelves, listen to each one and show them off whenever there was someone around.
And some of those albums would be found on those shelves more often than others. Let’s take a look at some of the best-selling albums of all time, based on claimed sales.
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)
The best album of one of the best bands of their generation, this record sold a whopping 40 million units. Rumours had some of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits, like The Chain, Dreams, and Go Your Own Way.
Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)
Still the all-time best-selling record in the world, Thriller sold no less than 66 million copies. It’s one of the best albums MJ ever made and it still sounds modern despite being 30 years old. And let’s not forget that legendary music video for Thriller, too.
Meat Loaf – Bat out of Hell (1977)
Yes, the symphonic rocker also made this list. Back in the ’70s, I can imagine this album surprised a lot of people in a really good way. This is also the album that features Paradise By the Dashboard Light, so it’s no surprise this album sold 50 million copies.
Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
One of the most iconic albums in history, Dark Side of the Moon is the album that has Time and Money on it, two of Pink Floyd’s biggest hits. The reason why this album was so popular is because it was a concept album, where each side was a continuous piece of music that reflected the stages of human life. 45 million people were very interested in that story and decided to buy the album.
AC/DC – Back in Black (1980)
No album has ever defined rock and roll music as much as AC/DC’s Back in Black. It sold a whopping 50 million records, and it defined the sound of AC/DC and many artists after them. They’ve never quite been able to recapture that feel in their later albums, but that doesn’t really matter anyway.
Eagles – Their Greatest Hits (1976)
It’s super weird to see a greatest hits album on a list, especially when the band is kind of a one-hit-wonder (I mean, nothing came close to Hotel California, right?) and the original album of that hit song isn’t on the list. So yeah, the best-selling album the Eagles had, was their greatest hits. Sold 42 million copies too.
Whitney Houston (and others) – The Bodyguard (1992)
That’s right, we’ve got a movie soundtrack in a list of the best-selling albums of all time. While many artists collaborated on this, the sales probably had something to do with Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. It’ll account for at least a decent chunk of the 45 million sales.