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The 100 Best-Selling Albums Ever: Eagles, Michael Jackson, Shania Twain & More
As the sun sets on 2018 and the music industry looks forward to the year ahead, the Recording Industry Association Of America has updated its list of gold and platinum album sales, providing a look in the rear view mirror.
The battle for the top spot continues, as the Eagles and Michael Jackson both jockey for No. 1. The Eagles dethroned the King of Pop this past summer—in terms of album sales, that is— when the RIAA certified Their Greatest Hits as 38x platinum, edging out M.J.’s Thriller at 33x platinum. The latest top five includes another Eagles album, Hotel California, at 26x platinum, as well as Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II and Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin IV with 23x platinum sales each.
Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 classic, Rumours, rounds out the top 10, followed closely by Shania Twain’s Come On Over, making Twain’s 1997 hit the highest ranking album by a female solo artist. Both albums sold over 20 million copies.
The folks at Digital Music News took the list a step further, compiling the top-selling artists of all-time, according to RIAA’s certified gold and platinum sales data. The Beatles top that list with 178 million certified units, followed by Garth Brooks, Elvis Presley, the Eagles, and Led Zeppelin rounding out the top 5. Women in the top 20 include Barbra Streisand (No. 12), Madonna (No. 16), Mariah Carey (No. 17), and Whitney Houston (No. 19).
Looking ahead, the RIAA has a big change of its own coming in 2019. Longtime chairman and CEO Cary Sherman is retiring after over 20 years with the organization, leaving behind an admirable legacy as a true music champion as an advocate for empowering music to thrive in the digital marketplace. With all the industry’s changes, one wonders who will top this list in another 20 years.