CSPC: David Bowie Popularity Analysis

Let's Dance

While retaining a solid position in the UK, topping charts in 1980 and in 1981 with singles Ashes to Ashes and Under Pressure, by 1982 it had been seven years since David Bowie last visited the US top 10 of the Hot 100.

In 1983 the album Let’s Dance fixed the situation. For the very first time of his career, the artist got one trans-Atlantic Top 5 single. A global #1, the title song of that album is one of the very best selling singles of the 80s at 5,5 million units sold. That massive hit also boosted following singles from the album which added 4,7 million sales. In terms of physical singles sales, this remains by very far the artist biggest era of his career. It also represents a large chunk of the 16 million singles he sold as a solo artist during the 80s since both follow up eras failed to replicate a similar success.

As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (1980) – 915,000 equivalent albums

Up The Hill Backwards – 150,000
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – 150,000
Ashes To Ashes – 1,900,000
Fashion – 850,000

Let’s Dance (1983) – 3,060,000 equivalent albums

Let’s Dance – 5,500,000
China Girl – 2,300,000
Modern Love – 1,800,000
Without You – 200,000
Cat People (Putting Out Fire) – 400,000

Tonight (1984) – 600,000 equivalent albums

Loving The Alien – 300,000
Tonight – 500,000
Blue Jean – 1,200,000

Never Let Me Down (1987) – 315,000 equivalent albums

Day-In Day-Out – 550,000
Time Will Crawl – 100,000
Never Let Me Down – 400,000

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A two-three solidly sold albums, and a lot of average ones, is quite surprising to me. Although David’s final CSPC figure is relatively large, it is mostly due to his long career, imo.


You have a point, MJD. Bowie’s career was long and pretty consistent. But still, David’s average CSPC percentage per album is 4.38 milion. 118.5 milion CSPC : 27 albums = 4.38milion (Orphan album excluded).

If we take for example Guns N’ Roses, their average CSPC percentage per album is huge 19.6 milion! 117.7 milion CSPC : 6 albums = 19.6 milion. (Orphan album excluded).

But not to be confused, I like David Bowie. I really do, It’s just, I personally thought his CSPC number was a little higher. : )


Both are impressive. Yet 27 multi-million sellers is more amazing and hard to get than 6 albums where 3 best seller albums on the peak of their fame are responsible for 82% of their sales in a 5 years period of release. In fact their 4 albums from their peak of fame represent 92% of their total CSPC points and 7 years release span. David Bowie 3 best sellers represent just 34% of his sales and are from a period over 13 years span with many other albums in between. His 4 best sellers would increase that span a bit… Read more »


Is there CSPC life on Mars? Yes, 125m in total.


David sales are at 175M records with all formats. Very impressive


He is at number 30 on Eas, 125m Total.


But Let’s dance has not sold over 15 million copies with republication?


I would love to see Jethto Tull popularity analysis

Speed of Life

Hi – thanks for a very comprehensively researched article.One question what about the sales of Under Pressure on Queen albums – Greatest hits and Platinum Collection?? Regards


David’s total is quite good, amazing considering he doesn’t have a hugely successful album but surpassed those who have one (Britney, Guns and Roses etc.) He is definitely up there among the most successful artists in history, despite going against the typical music industry rules and being highly risky and innovative. Anyway, i don’t know if you know this, but January 16 would mark Aaliyah’s 38th Birthday! I hope you would do a CSPC analysis on her as it would be quite fitting. I don’t expect her to have a huge result, but as an R&B artist who only released… Read more »


Bowie did well for the kind of act he was.

I really like this series. Can you do wholr popularity analyses for Red Hot Chili Peppers, Little Mix, Janet Jackson, Radiohead and Queen?

Thanks =)


What about CSPC for Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam?


Great articel! I know the legend because Barbra covered her classic Life on mars. I still waiting for articels abou France Sales and CSPC for Barbra

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