CSPC: Michael Jackson Popularity Analysis

Michael Jackson tributo 2010 al Rock Star Café (3)

Physical Singles Sales – Part 3

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

Dangerous (1991) – 3,036,000 equivalent albums

Black Or White – 2,860,000
Remember The Time – 1,450,000
In The Closet – 970,000
Jam – 570,000
Who Is It – 700,000
Heal The World – 1,760,000
Give In To Me – 580,000
Will You Be There – 1,110,000
Gone Too Soon – 120,000

HIStory (1995) – 3,006,000 equivalent albums

Scream – 1,550,000
You Are Not Alone – 2,970,000
Earth Song – 2,880,000
They Don’t Care About Us – 1,820,000
Stranger In Moscow – 360,000
HIStory/Ghosts – 440,000

Invincible (2001) – 339,000 equivalent albums

You Rock My World – 1,050,000
Cry – 80,000

Michael (2010) – 6,000 equivalent albums

Hold My Hand – 20,000

Orphan – 3,450,000 equivalent albums

Ease On Down The Road – 360,000
You Can’t Win – 120,000
A Brand New Day – 230,000
One Day In Your Life – 1,110,000
Say Say Say – 4,570,000
Farewell My Summer Love – 570,000
Girl You’re So Together – 60,000
Somebody’s Watching Me – 2,760,000
Get It – 170,000
Why – 430,000
Blood On The Dancefloor – 950,000
One More Chance – 170,000

Dangerous had only one song at near 2 million or more, Black Or White, against 4 each for Thriller and Bad. This is due to Dangerous’ singles, bar the lead one, hitting some markets while failing others, unlike 80s smashes that were huge everywhere. Singles from this era still had an incredible consistency as 7 made the Top 10 in France and the UK while 8 reached the top tier in New-Zealand. Thanks to this impressive volume, Dangerous‘ singles sold more than 10 million units combined.

HIStory is an atypical release. The presence of a greatest hits disc made the album incredibly expensive, especially since millions of people already owned most of the songs from the compilation CD. To answer this situation, many consumers decided to go buy the singles rather than the album.

That’s how Earth Song and They Don’t Care About Us became some of his top selling singles ever in Europe. Even if it wasn’t released in the US, the former sold almost 3 million. With 3 singles less than Dangerous, the HIStory era amassed 10 million physical singles sales.

The truncated promotion campaign by Sony is very visible here with a mere 2 singles released from Invincible, one of which wasn’t released in the US. The market was also collapsing so total sales are much lower than that of previous albums.

There is still some interesting stuff among the Orphan category. One Day In Your Life sold past 1 million mostly thanks to huge UK sales where it reached #1. Say Say Say, the duet with Paul McCartney, is a tremendous seller. In a 00s context, it would have most likely pushed an expanded edition of Thriller with it, although it wasn’t the norm at the time. The same can be said about the Rockwell smash Somebody’s Watching Me which didn’t fail to surf the Michael Jackson wave. Blood On The Dancefloor sold nearly 1 million units while promoting the remix album with the same title name.

The cumulative tally of his physical singles over the course of his career is up to 79,35 million.

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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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