CSPC: Michael Jackson Popularity Analysis

Michael Jackson project

Digital Singles Sales – Part 2

As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1,5 ratio between albums and digital singles.

Off The Wall (1979) – 1,094,000 equivalent albums

Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough – 3,230,000
Rock With You – 1,970,000
Off The Wall – 810,000
She’s Out Of My Life – 530,000
Working Day and Night – 300,000
Remaining tracks – 450,000

Thriller (1982) – 4,206,000 equivalent albums

The Girl Is Mine – 530,000
Billie Jean – 6,620,000
Beat It – 5,490,000
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – 2,340,000
Human Nature – 1,230,000
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) – 2,840,000
Thriller – 8,440,000
The Lady in My Life – 300,000
Remaining tracks – 250,000

Bad (1987) – 2,402,000 equivalent albums

I Just Can’t Stop Loving You – 530,000
Bad – 2,110,000
The Way You Make Me Feel – 2,910,000
Man In The Mirror – 4,010,000
Dirty Diana– 1,530,000
Another Part of Me – 230,000
Smooth Criminal – 3,540,000
Leave Me Alone – 430,000
Liberian Girl – 390,000
Remaining tracks – 330,000

The two US #1 hits from Off The Wall are over 5 million downloads and ringtones combined, a very solid showing for songs from a 1979 album. Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough for example does much better than anything released by Madonna prior to the digital era. It almost pales in comparison to what comes next for Michael Jackson though.

Thriller at 8,44 million, Billie Jean at 6,62 million and Beat It at 5,49 million are absolute monsters. The whole Thriller track list is out of this world. To use again our point of reference, Madonna, 5 out of the 9 songs from the album have more downloads than her biggest catalog hit Like A Prayer.

In total, songs from this LP register the immense number of 28 million downloads,  as much as big smash albums from the 00s. It largely breaks the record of Appetite For Destruction from the Guns N’ Roses, which at 19,7 million was the most successful pre-2000 album in downloads that we studied so far. It had itself a sizable lead over its runner up, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac at 15 million.

Rumours doesn’t drop from #2 to #3 on this specific ranking, though. In fact, it drops directly to #4 due to downloads of songs from Bad. Man In The Mirror leads the pack at 4 million, Smooth Criminal is over 3,5 million, The Way You Make Me Feel is ever closer to 3 million and Bad is over 2 million. Tracks from the album combine for over 16 million.

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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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