CSPC: Michael Jackson Popularity Analysis

Michael Jackson Portrait

Original Album Sales – Comments

1972 Got to be There – 1,600,000
1972 Ben – 2,125,000
1973 Music & Me – 800,000
1975 Forever, Michael – 550,000
1979 Off The Wall – 19,425,000
1982 Thriller – 65,800,000
1987 Bad – 33,600,000
1991 Dangerous – 29,550,000
1995 HIStory: Past, Present and Future – 18,625,000
2001 Invincible – 6,475,000
2010 Michael – 2,300,000
2014 Xscape – 1,750,000

Sometimes numbers speak for themselves. When we see those results, it is hard to believe that when Off The Wall was released, no non-Soundtrack album had ever sold more than 16 million units.

Got To Be There and Ben were both great successes. After all, a 13-year old R&B singer wasn’t supposed to sell that well, especially in a market strongly dominated by singles. Their follow ups, Music & Me and Forever, Michael failed to gain traction and could have represented the end of the road for Michael Jackson.

What came next is part of the history books. When it had sold 6 million units by 1980, Off The Wall was already the greatest selling album by a black artist of all-time. It wasn’t enough for the popstar who wanted to beat all the records with Thriller. That’s exactly what he did. The best selling album ever since early 1984, the album has been increasing its lead ever since. At one point, Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd was catching up, but nowadays, even in terms of catalog sales, Thriller is still the leader of the pack.

Bad and Dangerous were giants in their own right. By 1993, they had joined Thriller as the Top 3 best selling solo albums of all-time. HIStory sold someway less, although it was twice the price as it was a double album, and has been suffering from very low catalog sales due to its unavailability as a stand-alone record. The end of its run was also transferred into the remix album Blood On The Dancefloor. With everything considered, it isn’t very far from its two predecessors.

At nearly 6,5 million Invincible would be regarded as a smash for many artists, but not by Michael Jackson‘s standards. Still, it pushes the Epic 6-albums total to an unreal 173,5 million, the average is just absurd at 28,9 million.

The two posthumous albums disappointed at first, but finish up with pretty solid sales for this day and age with over 4 million combined. In total, Michael Jackson sold 182,6 million studio albums.

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At the time of writing, ‘Thriller’ has now topped 120 million EAS.

It’s astounding to think that one album has been more successful that the entire career output (so far) of some pretty big international acts. Dire Straits, Coldplay, RHCP, Simon and Garfunkel, Adele, Drake and Rihanna to name a few…


Apart from Simon and Garfunkel, you’re right according to this system


Yes, sorry, I meant to say ‘The Doors’. Thank you for the correction!


Michael Jackson was part of Thriller album, there was dozens of workers and inventors, everyone’s goal was maximum commercialism or sales. That’s why its rating is not at the top. Not so creative. Call product.


I’m not necessarily saying than I’m a fan of either Jackson or ‘Thriller’. Just commenting on the enormous success it has achieved regardless of how many people were involved in it’s creation.


How is it any less creative, than say Blood on the Tracks, OK Computer, Nevermind, Sticky Fingers etc

You just sound like a bitter snob, finding fault and putting something down, just because it’s not to your taste.


Read everyone’s reviews from the critics. They say it better. Are Agatha Christie books better than, let’s say Herman Hesse, John Steinbeck or L-F Celine? I just threw a comment out of context. It’s not dangerous.


No, it’s bollocks. It’s not everyone’s reviews, it’s a certain subset of societys reviews. Do you really think hip hop magazines, bang on about or even give a fuck about, the merits or validity of Blonde On Blonde or Pet Sounds. On top of that, the majority of the world couldn’t give a toss what critics say, let alone use them as a barometer of what music they enjoy or want to buy. I don’t know what you deem as creative but for me, Thriller is on many levels. It’s not only the most popular album of all time and… Read more »


What’s your point? That’s like 99% of music out there!


There is an interesting comment in Sandra Bullock’s film The Lost City. She plays a romance novelist who’s extremely popular but would prefer to write serious work. The cover model says, “How can I be embarrassed by something that brings so much joy to so many people?”
If you like something, enjoy it. But don’t try to negate someone else’s happiness.
Same with your quote about Agatha Christie. Hundreds of millions of people bought her books. It obviously brought them joy. Why insult their taste?

Jorge Neto

Hi MJD, do you have any estimate of how many albums Michael sold since his passing in 2009? According to Soundscan he sold 16.1 million albums in the US alone as of 2019, is it possible to make a worldwide figure?


some of y’all need to shut up
michael had 6 studio albums and the beatles 13
the beatles did it in 7 years and mj in 22 years

the thing is that both found their own way into their success and there’s no excuse to invalidate the other, just SHUT UPPPPP


Not to mention that Michael has actually 10 studio albums. Anyway, they’re both icons

Last edited 9 months ago by Sonique

He had 6 albums as an adult. If we don’t add
The other four albums ,they won’t affect that

Last edited 9 months ago by Suhayb

mj I a solo artist being compared to a band , I think that says enough


Just out of curiosity, there probably are good reasons, but is History the only album that is counted twice? Or are any of the other (double) albums also treated this way?


I hope this works so they could answer you soon


Why number of sales are changing?
Do they update daily?


Streams are updated daily. The EAS from streams cause movement on their sales.


Alas, the question is probably too dumb/difficult or easy for me to search for


Well disc one of history is a compilation and disc two is a studio album and disc on is certified platinum in the us but disc two is certified 8 times platinum in the us so the compilation and studio album are considered like two separate things even though they are put together.

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