Top 5: Masses Get It Right

In a world where Britney Spears owns the charts, one feels somewhat sceptical when it comes to determining greatness based on platinum certification.

Ultimate Guitar

The quality of an artist's music can never really be reflected by album sales. In a world where Britney Spears owns the charts, one feels somewhat sceptical when it comes to determining greatness based on platinum certification. That being said, one must admit that selling millions of albums does tend to make a mark on the industry, and hey, sometimes the masses do get it right.

(Note: Based on US sales)

05. Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Volume I & II (21x Platinum)

Few will deny the great influence this piano-playing rocker has had on the music world. Since his breaktrough hit Piano Man in 1974, he has had 33 songs in the Billboard Top 40. This double album was released on July 1, 1985, and went on to sell more than 10 million copies, earning the RIAA's coveted Diamond Award. Although he later released Greatest Hits Volume III, this 2 CD set remains the absolute highlight of his career, and in 1999 Billy Joel was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Although this Greatest Hits set only reached no. 6 in the charts, its has gone platinum (1 million copies sold) 21 times, taking its place as the no. 5 best-selling album of all time.

04. Led Zeppelin: Untitled (IV/ZOSO) (22x Platinum)

Arguably the most important band of the 1970s, Led Zeppelin is hardly a surprising appearance in the Top 5. Led Zeppelin's fourth album, commonly referred to as Led Zeppelin IV (aka ZOSO), was released in November of 1971. It would go on to sell more than 22 million copies, and remained in Billboard's album chart for five years. Despite its extensive stay in the charts, bizarrely it never reached number 1, peaking in second place. It spawned several hits, the most notable being the incomparable Stairway To Heaven, which became one of the most requested songs in the history of FM radio. Led Zeppelin was accepted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995, and to this day, Led Zeppelin IV remains one of the most respected Rock records ever made.

03. Pink Floyd: The Wall (23x Platinum)

Pink Floyd's last studio effort of the 1970s turned out to be their most successful. Although many consider their 1973 album The Dark Side Of The Moon (15x platinum, #19 best selling album of all time) to be their best work, The Wall represents their most successful commercial romp.

The Wall was released on December 15, 1979, and spent 15 weeks at number 1. The album became somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, even spawning a rather strange full length feature film. Although the band suffered a rather messy formal breakup in the mid-eighties, Pink Floyd (Missing Roger Waters) released additional studio material, and were officially inducted in the Rock Hall Of Fame in 1996.

02. Michael Jackson: Thriller (26x Platinum)

Although Michael Jackson has become an endless source of jokes and puns of late, his influence on the music world is hard to deny. Thriller represents the absolute zenith of his extensive career, and has become the standard to which all pop records are compared. It spent a mammoth 37 weeks at no.1, and has sold more than 26 million copies. Michael Jackson was inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame in 2001, and although he has continually procuced music, Thriller remains his greatest triumph, and is unlikely to be toppled any time soon.

01. The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 (28x Platinum)

While it may surprise many, The Eagles can proudly claim to have the best-selling album of all time. Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 was released in March of 1976, and contained the best songs from their first four albums. It was the first album to be certified platinum by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America), which first started using this system in 1976. To date, it has gone platinum 28x times, meaning it has sold more than 28 million copies. The Eagles were inducted into the hall of fame in 1998, and their list of accomplishments is quite extensive. The Eagles officially split in 1980, but reunited in 1994 to release Hell Freezes Over. Out-selling its nearest competitor by 2 million records, this greatest hits collection seems firmly fixed in its place at number 1.

96 comments sorted by best / new / date

    just some article telling us about the amount of times a band's album went platinum.. It's not a bad article, and I really liked the first part about britney.She doesn't own the charts at all, like you said. 4 stars to this one. Get some more next time alright.
    this was a good article. really makes you rethink micheal jackson's place in music today. hey cyborg, you're stupid
    i think that greatists hits albums really shouldn't be up there.
    Knew most of this previously to be honest, but it's still a great little read. I love reading how many albums artists have sold throughout the years, and was shocked when I first read that the Eagles Greatest Hits had sold over 28 million records, but then thought about it was wasn't overly suprised. I was more suprised to read that Shaggy had a diamond disc!
    Wrong. #1 = Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon #2 - Pink Floyd - The Wall The records are shaky on the top 1, but it is true. I am not a huge fan, but they are #1 and #2.
    Actually, they're not. My source is the RIAA, what's yours? The Wall is no. 3(23xPlat) and Dark Side of the Moon is no. 19 (15xPlat). There is no way that Pink Floyd outsold Thriller, sad, but ulitimately true.
    Wrong. #1 = Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon #2 - Pink Floyd - The Wall The records are shaky on the top 1, but it is true. I am not a huge fan, but they are #1 and #2.
    One important fact is missing - the RIAA counts each double album that is sold as two sales, so their total sales are really half of what's written (e.g. The Wall has really only gone 11X platinum rather than 23X).
    Just a bit of info... Every 10 million copies sold (10X Platinum) is called "Diamond." You can look up the top selling records and every album that has achieved a Diamond awar by looking on the net. Not sure of the URL, but just look around. Also, this list is correct, so if you think it sucks thats too bad, because this is really how the sales stood on the records. So don't bash the article, because it's pointless to say, "Oh. So and so isn't on the list, so it sucks nuts." Do not go there my friends...
    Good article, but he forgot "The Beatles", "Elvis" and "Boston" they have the record for the best selling debute album. No one has come close. But, good article.
    Isn't Back In Black the number 2 selling album with like 24x platinum. where is this guy getting his information from, it could be wrong.
    Actually Back In Black comes in at No. 6, having gone 19x platinum. My numbers are derived from official RIAA reports, so they are completely accurate, I didn't just make them up
    Isn't Back In Black the number 2 selling album with like 24x platinum. where is this guy getting his information from, it could be wrong.
    love the article (four stars) it really has pissed me off that michael jackson is in the rock all of fame now thats really taking the piss. He probably Cant play a single chord on the guitar
    Brink Hyren
    Those are the US Charts. I believe the world charts have Thriller at number one, but I may be mistaken.
    At the start of this article it says:"the quality of an artists music can never be reflected by album sales." So how come you've got all the bands that have sold millions of records and a lot of people only liked them at the time because a lot of other people liked them? Why not mention the sex pistols? The only reason they didn't get a number 1 for god saves the queen was that it is an anti-monarchist song. Even though it outsold the official number 1, by Rod Stewart.
    good article. grammar DOES matter. it counts in the presentation dept. The US is will go to the dogs if you guys continue to think grammar doesnt matter. still, a good article. I wonder why MJ was inducted into the ROCK hall of fame. he isn't rock. He's pop ,dance, or whatever genre you wanna put his music into (except rock,metal,punk, etc etc , you get what i mean) .. i still wonder...
    i dont like billy joel's album and the eagles greatest hits for the mere reason that they are greatest hits. i love both of their music but its like cheating to have a greatest hits on the billboard 'top' charts. zeppelin, jackson, and floyd did it in a regular album
    there was a musical based on Pink Floyds "The Wall" some years back here in NZ
    amen to zeep but they did own the charts they have the like 3rd higest selling album of all time
    Actually, Michael Jackson seeling so many albums shows that the masses often get it wrong
    I read somwhere that The Beatles were #1 with Led Zep #2... Or was it that they were they only two groups to have albums go diamond... not sure.. Nice article. Nice groups/bands/singers as well.
    I know this is a guitar based website but Muse should surely be in that band too because they're awesome live and Matt Bellamy knows how to work a guitar, piano and his own vocal chords.
    this is just america, right? cos worldwide, michael jackson is number one by quite some way...
    Reaper_of_souls... you are a genious. I like how you prove everyone wrong in standing up for your article, EXCELLENT work, especially in neutralizing all the B.S. that people try to give you in the forum, most can't do that in here, great job!
    All this does is show the top five selling albums. Thats not much of an article.
    I guess there are different forms of musical talent. Britney may not be Jimmy Hendrix, or Mark Knophler, but she obviously is very good at what she does... and that is appealing to the masses. She certainly dances and sings a whole lot better than most lead guitarists. Doesn't appeal to me particularly, but you have to give credit where credit is due. Being a guitar forum, I don't expect many to agree with me, but hey, it had to be said. Tall poppy syndrome is a very sad thing.
    Apparently the Eagles do rule! F@ck if I know a song other than Hotel California, which I think was not even in "the best" collection. 28 millions??? Kinda makes u feel u slept and woke up in an alternate universe, where hippies rule the world, flowers are the world's currency and Bush is a smart and inspired leader
    I didnt know that about the eagles. That's really cool, they rock, Hotel California!!!..
    Too bad hotel california isnt on that album...
    Eagles album sales are the oddest, I mean, a greatest hits collection is their top selling album, beating out Michael Jackson(!)? Im pretty sure they also hold the record for the most "Best of" compilations. 'nuff said.
    not bad, informative even. didny realize thriller was #2, thought it was #1
    this is another AMAZING asrticle from this guy, 5 stars ps u shud write for kerrang! or RS or MH