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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Thomas Christiansen

“Billie Jean” recently topped 1 Billion plays on Spotify!!!

993,017,697 + 3,798,470 + 2,500,913 + 1,274,583 + 47,353 = 1,000,639,016

A huge achievement from this 39 year old Pop classic!

Lim Hyunjin

A few days ago, Billie Jean was predicted to be played 1 billion on spotify.

Billie Jean is a very important song in the history of popular music.

I listen to Billie Jean every day.

Last edited 22 days ago by Lim Hyunjin

How much did We Are The World sell? It was hugely successful and The New York Times reported it as the best-selling single of the 80s.

Christopher Porter

Orphan is not a Michael Jackson album


Orphan means songs that are not included in his studio albums.


Hi, do we know how much “Thriller 25” sold since 2009 please?

Thomas Christiansen

“Beat It” is the 2nd track from “Thriller” to pass 500M streams on Spotify! It’s the 6th pre-2000 album to achieve this. Here are the top 5 albums based on their 2nd biggest track, all 5 are Hard Rock albums btw. Biggest 2nd track race: 1. Nirvana “Come As You Are” (“Nevermind” – 1991) – 617.2M 2. Metallica “Nothing Else Matters” (“Metallica” – 1991) – 595.2M 3. Guns ‘N Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” (“Appetite for Destruction” – 1987) – 578.6M 4. Bon Jovi “You Give Love A Bad Name” (“Slippery When Wet” – 1986) – 509.9M 5. AC/DC “You… Read more »

Maybe you’re wondering why Queen are missing from these lists, after all they are arguably the true streaming masters among 20th century artists. But the reason is that their top SEVEN tracks on Spotify are from seven different albums! Amazing actually. Their #8 track “We are the Champions” is the 2nd biggest track on “News of the World” with 480.7M, and rank #9 in the “Biggest 2nd track race”. And what about other 20th century artists with huge Spotify tracks, like Oasis, Mariah Carey, Journey, Toto, A-ha, the Eagles, Earth Wind & Fire and the Police? Well, while hardly one-hit-wonders,… Read more »


Thanks! I love these lists!




Will you do an update soon? This article was over 3 years ago.


His sales in Japan seem relatively weak for his overall Asai sales ..any reason?


It’s not that they’re weak there, he’s among the very top international sellers in Japan. It’s just that his sales in places like China, India, Taiwan and South Korea were utter massive and unmatched by any other western act at his time. You could argue he was the first western artist to ever break into the mainstream in some of these countries.


How did Madonna issue albums in a much more favourable era?

She had her peak with him and they both released albums in late 90s and early 2000s, Madonna released more.


Didn’t most of Madonna albums flop in the 90s? She just had one successful album with Ray of Light!

Last edited 1 year ago by PeterH

I don’t think an average of 10.3 million in the 90’s (without Ray of Light) is a flop 😗. Don’t confuse a flop with not being as ridiculously huge she was in the 80’s.


Average of 10 million?

Immaculate Collection is a compilation, it doesn’t count.

None of her albums except ROL sold 10 million in 90s.

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