Here we are with the final part of our all time deep dive.
Headed back Stateside for the 100 Biggest Selling Albums in the US.
Let’s count them down one last time:
Appetite For Destruction- 18.4m
Guns N’ Roses
Come On Over- 20m
Cracked Rear View – 21m
Hootie & The Blowfish
Rumours – 21.631m
Dark Side Of The Moon- 21.871m
Led Zeppelin IV- 24m
Back In Black – 25m
Hotel California -26m
Thriller – 34m
Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 – 38m
Headline news for the US Album list; you guys really like Eagles.
I believe it’s in the constitution that every home must have one.
What other explanation is there for 38m sales? That’s 11.4% of the population based on current figures. Eagles are your equivalent of Queen for us, but even more popular. Based on “Queen’s Greatest Hits” sales around 10.5% of the UK population have bought it.
Just like Queen there are two volumes of greatest hits.
But this time, they also have a monster of an original album in there as well; “Hotel California” (#3). Not the biggest studio album though, as “Thriller” comes between the dual Eagles onslaught.
Once again Greatest Hits, Best of, Contractual Obligation, etc, etc account for a good proportion of the list.
Sixteen this time around.
While self titled albums are even more on trend with nine:
Boston, Metallica, Backstreet Boys, Whitney Houston, Led Zeppelin II & IV, NSYNC, Van Halen and The Beatles – OK, so everyone calls it The White Album – but it’s official birth name demonstrates a lack of imagination.
And once again there’s The Marshall Mathers LP, which you can argue amongst yourselves as to whether it constitutes self titled.
The Beatles remain expectedly big news but not as much as at home.
Those four may surpass Eagles three, but there’s one clear winner in placing albums on the list:
He might have missed the all time top 10 peaking at #12 with No Fences but he makes up for it with appearances at 31, 78, 91, 95 and 98. As if that wasn’t enough: he also lurks just outside at 101 and 103.
That Chris Gaines album really derailed his sales figures as all of his entries pre-date it.
If Eagles are your Queen equivalent, then Garth is Robbie Williams. A comparison I’m sure he and his fans will appreciate. He did chart here at #2 with In Pieces but that is one of only five times he’s made the UK top 40 albums.
The UK list contained 18 albums never to chart in the US top 100.
From the opposite side, it’s only seven. Four of these are greatest hits for artists that hadn’t had much in the way of chart success here,
Like Aerosmith’s 1980 compilation (#59) which pre-dates their appearance on any UK chart by six years.
Its not too much of a surprise that Garth Brooks’ No Fences (#12) and Kid Rock’s Devil Without A Cause (#71) failed to chart here but the other one is. The Lion King soundtrack never made it into the UK album chart despite Circle Of Life and Can You Feel The Love Tonight being hits for Elton.
Overall, 39 of these were UK #1s with 70 being top 10.
There are points of difference though. The UK list features REM and Red Hot Chili Peppers who don’t make it onto the US list. While Def Leppard and Led Zeppelin (three times) appear in the US list but miss out at home.
Then there are acts that made it onto both lists but with different albums;
UK = But Seriously (#46)
US = No Jacket Required (#58)
UK = American Idiot (#83)
US = Dookie (#96)
Guns N’ Roses:
UK = Greatest Hits (#90)
US = Appetite For Destruction (#10)
In terms of US chart performance there’s a few noticeable outliers.
Especially compared to Billboard’s All Time Hot 100 Singles where every entry had charted at #1 or #2.
Some of the albums have played the long game, selling consistently over an extended period without making the upper reaches of the album chart.
- Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits 1974 – 1978 (#23) had a chart high of 18
- Van Halen’s self titled debut (#77) made 19
- Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits (#59) peaked at 43
- Eagles Greatest Hits Volume 2 (#73) charted at 52
Last week we saw how partisan the UK 100 was in favouring the home team. And just as we saw on the singles 100 it’s even more partisan.
Britain puts up a good fight in the top 10, with Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd plus AC/DC and Fleetwood Mac having limey representation.
But overall, its no contest and with even fewer countries;
Fleetwood Mac demonstrate neat symmetry of UK/US membership and Rumours being at #7 on both sides of the Atlantic.
U2 this time get the field to themselves in being top of the pile from Ireland (Joshua Tree #57).
Those figures don’t add up to 100 due to the presence of that staple: Soundtracks.
The Bodyguard (#11), Saturday Night Fever (#18), Grease (#24), Dirty Dancing (#45) and Sound of Music (#74) all appeared in the UK 100 and are joined by Purple Rain (#27), Titanic (#68) and The Lion King (#97).
Looking at the make up of the acts, the numbers don’t differ too much from the UK list.
- 20 solo female
- 24 solo male
- 51 groups
In a potentially contentious delineation, I’ve included the following in the group section based on the full credited artist; Bob Seger And The Silver Bullet Band – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – Prince And The Revolution.
Women are again massively underrepresented when looking at the make up of the groups with two all female acts in TLC and Dixie Chicks (going by their name at the time of release) with Fleetwood Mac and No Doubt having a male / female dynamic. That’s only nine women across those 51 groups.
There is an improvement compared to the UK list in terms of Rap, RnB and soul representation:
With Eminem joined by Boyz II Men (II #53), TLC (Crazysexycool #54), Nelly (Country Grammar #89) and Lauryn Hill (The Miseducation Of #90).
Like the UK though the majority of the list is overwhelmingly white and far less diverse than the singles equivalent.
Teenage pop sensations do encroach onto the rock dominated list courtesy of Britney Spears, Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys and Justin Timberlake while in NSYNC, all debuting on the list at 17 with Taylor Swift just behind them at 18.
Carlos Santana represents the other end of the scale at 51 when Supernatural was released.
On to the winning decade:
In Britain the number of albums increased every decade through to the 00s, before hitting the cliff edge of streaming in the 00s.
In the US, it’s the same story – but a decade ahead, pushing the 90s into a clear lead before a big fall off.
Elvis leads the charge with his 1957 Christmas Album at #16. The 60s mirrors the UK through The Beatles and Sound Of Music before things really start to take off in the 70s.
Once again, Adele did her best to shore up the albums market with 21 (#28) and 25 (#69).
These being two of only three albums released after 2005 to make it – Taylor Swift; Fearless (#87) from 2008 is the other. By the decades:
- 1950s 1
- 1960s 5
- 1970s 17
- 1980s 23
- 1990s 41
- 2000s 11
- 2010s 2
The biggest year was 1994 with seven entries, led by Hootie & The Blowfish; Cracked Rear View (#8).
Another one of those bands that don’t translate to these shores. I’m surprised to find it charted as high as #12 here.
The UK top 10 had better cross generational representation with every decade from the 60s to 00s in there.
Not the case here.
The 70s may lag well behind the 90s overall, but it claims half the top 10. The 80s pipping the 90s three to two.
There aren’t as many debut albums this time, 16 compared to 22 on the UK list and only Britney, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Van Halen and Whitney come back with another blockbuster.
We do have a fine example of the one album wonder in the shape of Lauryn Hill. It’s possible she’ll get it together to record a follow up but it’s not looking likely.
There are another couple of fine examples of the follow up not performing to the same standard.
No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom sold over 8 million bringing Diamond certification. Follow up Return Of Saturn sold a number that many acts would sell their drummer to the devil for, but that Platinum certification pales in comparison.
It’s not the biggest drop off though. Step forward, Carole King:
She achieved 14 X Platinum status with all time classic Tapestry and followed that up within a year with Music.
Which dropped 13 of those Platinum certifications.
Thanks to the appearance of Back In Black (#4) and Eliminator (#86) we’re covered from AC/DC to ZZ Top.
It could be a disadvantage for ZZ Top to be racked at the back of the store where casual browsers don’t reach but they make it nonetheless.
For one last time, who are we missing, then?
Across the four parts there’s still no Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, or Bowie.
Sorry guys, but there’s already too many bros in the club.
And being a legend doesn’t mean you get your name on the list.
…end of series.
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