CSPC: Elton John Popularity Analysis

Elton John 2012

Elton John Career CSPC Results

So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Elton John achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!

In the following results table, all categories display figures in equivalent album sales. If different, pure sales are listed between parentheses.

*Pure sales figures updated on 02/05/18.
'Av.' stands for Average, 'LD' for Last Day.

As a reminder:

  • Studio Album: sales of the original album
  • Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
  • Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
  • Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
  • Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/6750 for Video stream)

See where the artist ranks among remaining singers


With no surprise Goodbye Yellow Brick Road comes out on top with an impressive 31,35 million units, a figure that puts it almost on a par with albums like the Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Michael Jackson‘s HIStory. The album has strong results in every possible format.

The runner up was less expected. Elton John finishes with over 20 million comprehensive album sales generated, an incredible showing for an album which sold only 2,65 million sales with the proper studio album. It joins the likes of Billy Joel‘s Piano Man and Bob Marley‘s Natty Dread among early albums which haven’t sold that much upon release, but paved the way to an immense career with one iconic song that started it all. Honky Château is a solid third at 16 million.

Caribou and Too Low For Zero are almost tied at 10,6 million, followed closely by Rock of the Westies, Sleeping with the Past and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, all inside a 2 million range. Closing the Top 10 are The One and Blue Moves, which edges out Madman Across the Water by only 1,000 copies at over 6,2 million.

Not all his albums have done so well, with as many as 17 releases on 2,5 million equivalent album sales or less. Does it really matter though? The point is that John accumulated countless successful albums and singles with a catalog matched by very few.

In total, Elton John shifted 196,1 million equivalent album sales across his immense career. If we can’t know if his Farewell tour will really be the last, what’s safe to say is that it will help the icon to shoot to over 200 million during the upcoming years.

The following pages list his most successful songs as well as his records and achievements. Do not forget to check our amazing cross-artists lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector which includes the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far to better gauge his position in the history of the music industry.

As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!

Sources: IFPI, Spotify, YouTube, Chartmasters.org.

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Kris

Elton has surpassed 10M in streaming EAS. Of the current top 50 best selling artists, he is the 14th best in streaming.

Analord

A lot of these artists are from the streaming era though (Drake, BTS…etc) so I wouldn’t compare their streams with Elton’s.

Top 10 pre-2000s acts :

Queen – 21.6m
The Beatles – 16m
Michael Jackson – 14.4m
Metallica – 11.9m
AC/DC – 10.2m
Elton John – 10m
Bob Marley – 9.1m
Guns N’ Roses – 8.8m
Nirvana – 8.6m
Pink Floyd – 8.3m

Not including Mariah Carey (8.8m) and 2Pac (8.4m) because they had a lot of success with their 21st century music.

Clockingbell

Nice list! Great achievement also, although 2Pac has less streams (1.2m) with his 21st century music than Elton (1.7m), and also less than Metallica (1.4m) and MJ (1.3m). And as Mariah Carey has only slightly more (1.9m), I think it would be fair to let them both be part of the comparison.

Analord

Well, first off you can’t have both Mariah and 2Pac in the top 10 since the #10 would be Nirvana (8.6m). And what I meant is that they both have a bigger share of their success from the 21st century, if you remove that share they would be behind the others when it comes to pre-2000 songs.

Speaking of which, I hadn’t realized Elton had 1.7m streaming EAS from his recent stuff, I assume it’s mostly The Lockdown Sessions from last year ? I’ve no search credit left 🙁

Clockingbell

Fair enough! It’s mostly The Lockdown Sessions indeed, you can also visit the artist pages and look at the auto update totals per album ;-).

Analord

Yeah but a lot of his songs would be in the “orphan” category (Ghetto Gospel…etc). His albums alone total 1.8m actually (1.6m for TLS), and with the orphan stuff it’d be well over 2m, maybe 2.4m ? A lot of features so it’s complicated…

Martin

I think it’s far more difficult to decide what counts as pre/post 2000. Take say the RHCP, is it fair to exclude them just because they have been very successful in the 00s. Metallica debuted in 83, the RHCPs in 84 and both released 7 studio albums in the 00s, but they’re penalised because they’ve managed to stay more relevant, for longer. Again, is it fair to exclude say Shakira, who released her first album in 91, just because her international success is prominently in the 2000s. On the other hand, should all be excluded because they are all still… Read more »

ojd

would it not just be easier to look at all acts that debut beofre 2000 and minus anything they released after 2000?

Martin

You can do, you can do what ever you want but there will always be caveats needed, context needed. Take say AC/DC, I’d say their 00s return Black Ice and subsequent World Tour, were responsible for a great upturn in their popularity, as was the Iron Man soundtrack. So, even though Black Ice, Rock or Bust and Power Up are excluded, the studio albums, World Tours and soundtracks, all significantly benefited the popularity of their pre 2000 work. Take Queen, you can exclude The Cosmos Rocks, but you can’t subtract the impact We Will Rock You, Bohemian Rhapsody or the… Read more »

Analord

Good idea 😉 Approximately :

Queen – 21.5m
The Beatles – 16m
Michael Jackson – 12.7m
Metallica – 10.6m
AC/DC – 9.1m
Bob Marley – 8.7m
Guns N’ Roses – 8.6m
Nirvana – 8.6m
Pink Floyd – 8.1m
Elton John – 7.6m

Analord

Sorry but I’m really not sure what you’re getting at… Shakira ? 😕 She has like 2m streaming EAS from the 90s, why would she be included in a pre-2000s list ?

There’s nothing “difficult” about this, it’s just a list of acts who had most of their success before 2000, that’s all.

Martin

The list is about acts that debuted pre 2000, Shakira debuted in 1991. The list was never how successful their pre 2000 work was. Strange you have problems understanding that, seems quite simple to me.

How can you seriously say an act that debuted in 1991 or even worse 1984, is from the streaming era. You’re just making up your own selective rules about this as you go along.

Last edited 3 months ago by Martin
Analord

You realize I’m the one who made the list, right ? As I said it’s about acts who had most of their success before 2000, that’s why I didn’t include Eminem or Shakira or whatever…

And I never said acts who debuted in 1984 are from the streaming era, I specifically mentioned Drake and BTS, so you’re the one making things up (for some reason).