Crooning for Cash: Best-Selling Albums of All Time


By: Nathan Chandler

4 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

A catchy tune might be more than just a fun song. Sometimes a musician will capture listeners' ears in unforgettable ways … leading to unimaginable sales. How much do you know about the certified best-selling albums of all time?

Music sales numbers are an exact science.

Album sales numbers -- particularly in the pre-digital age -- vary wildly depending on the source (and a record label's propensity for exaggeration). So while the numbers aren't exact, they'll still show you just how incredibly popular these albums really were.


Which AC/DC album has sold more copies than any other?

"Back in Black" was made as a tribute to the band's first lead singer, Bon Scott, who died from alcohol poisoning. The album has sold more than 26 million certified copies.


Which artist made the best-selling album of all time?

The King of Pop is still the all-time king of the charts. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" has sold more certified copies than any other album.


How many certified copies of "Thriller" have been sold?

Jackson's "Thriller" has sold around 46 million certified copies since its release in 1982. Some sources claim as many as 65 million copies. No other album since has even approached those kinds of sales figures.


What's the best-selling movie soundtrack album of all time?

Anchored by Whitney Houston's mega-hit "I Will Always Love You," the soundtrack for "The Bodyguard" has sold around 27 million copies. "Grease" fans (and related business interests) sometimes argue that their film's album actually sold more copies.


Which artist released a best-selling album titled "Jagged Little Pill"?

Released squarely in the middle of the 90s, Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" became an alt-rock icon. It was nominated for nine Grammy Awards and sold more than 20 million copies.


Of the seven singles released from Michael Jackson's "Thriller," how many made it to the Top 10 on the Billboard charts?

All seven singles from "Thriller" cracked Billboard's Top 10. The album won eight Grammy Awards en route to its landmark sales.


Which Pink Floyd album has sold more copies than any other?

"The Dark Side of the Moon" was Pink Floyd's biggest commercial success. Released in 1973, it was the band's eighth album.


How many different albums have sold more than 40 million copies?

Only eight albums in music history have reached the rarified air of 40 million in sales or more. "Thriller," of course, tops the list.


What year did Metallica release its best-selling self-titled album?

"Metallica" is often simply called The Black Album and it was released in 1991. Anchored by singles such as "Enter Sandman" and "Nothing Else Matters," it went all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard charts.


Which of Madonna's albums has sold the most copies?

"The Immaculate Collection," a compilation album, is Madonna's all-time best seller. It's sold around 20 million copies.


"Thriller" was the first song released as a single from Michael Jackson's album of the same name.

"Thriller" was the seventh and final single released from this album. The first single was "The Girl is Mine," which Jackson recorded with Paul McCartney.


Of the following three albums, which has sold the most copies?

Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" was a huge hit in the late 70s -- it sold roughly 28 million copies, more than "Nevermind" and "21."


For how many weeks did "The Dark Side of the Moon" remain on the Billboard charts?

"Dark Side" was one of the most impressive chart performers ever -- it was on the Billboard chart from 1973 to 1988, a run of 741 weeks.


What is Michael Jackson's SECOND best-selling album?

For Jackson, 1987's "Bad" was nothing but good news -- it was his second best-selling album, closely followed by 1991's "Dangerous."


Which artist released a best-selling album titled "Brothers in Arms"?

In 1985, Dire Straits released "Brothers in Arms," which became the No. 1 album the world over. It featured hits such as "Walk of Life" and "Money for Nothing."


Which Eagles album has sold more copies than any other?

The Eagles had their best sales with a compilation album called "Their Greatest Hits," which was released in 1976. The album featured songs from the band's first four studio recordings.


Which album by The Beatles sold more than any other?

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" blew the minds of critics and audiences around the world. It topped music charts in the United Kingdom for 27 weeks.


For how many weeks did The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" take the No. 1 spot on the music charts in the United States?

For 15 weeks -- more than three months -- the charts in the United States revolved around "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Many critics hail it as one of the best albums of all time.


Which best-selling album did NOT win a Grammy for Album of the Year?

Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell" sold by the millions but it didn't win any Grammys. Grammy Awards, of course, do not always result in amazing sales figures.


What was the first single from Mariah Carey's "Music Box," which was released in 1993?

"Dreamlover" was the first music from "Music Box." The album actually received lukewarm reviews but it's still her best-selling record.


Which Beatles song did NOT appear on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"?

"Hey Jude" was released the year after "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," which featured all sorts of experimental arrangements that changed the course of pop history.


How many albums did Meatloaf record before "Bat Out of Hell"?

"Bat Out of Hell" was Meatloaf's second studio album. The album was rejected by multiple record companies before he found one willing to gamble on him.


What year was Led Zeppelin's best-selling album released?

Led Zeppelin's fourth (untitled) album was released in 1971. It featured "Stairway to Heaven," and is regarded as one of the best albums in rock history.


Which band was featured on the soundtrack album for "Saturday Night Fever"?

The Bee Gees performed most of the popular songs for the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack. The opening track was "Stayin' Alive."


Which artist recorded a best-selling album titled "Falling into You"?

Celine Dion released "Falling into You" in 1996. The opening track was "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," written by Jim Steinman, of "Bat Out of Hell" fame.


Which country music artist has the best-selling country album of all time?

Shania Twain's "Come On Over" was released in 1997 and set about selling like butter-smeared Southern hotcakes. It was on Billboard's Country Music Top Ten for 151 weeks.


How many singles were released from Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon"?

"The Dark Side of the Moon" produced two singles, "Money," and "Us and Them." All of the lyrics on the album were written by Roger Waters.


Which of the following songs was NOT included on "Their Greatest Hits" from the Eagles?

"Hotel California" is one of the band's most enduring singles, but it hadn't been recorded when "Their Greatest Hits" was released. The compilation album opened with "Take It Easy."


Shania Twain's "You're Still The One" was the first country music crossover single every to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Top Ten.

"You're Still The One" was inescapable in the late 1990s, but it ran out of steam at No. 2 on the charts. Regardless, this B-side song propelled Twain's album to nearly 30 million certified sales.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!