CSPC: Elton John Popularity Analysis

Elton John 2009

It’s not necessary to believe that the freshly announced Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour is the last Elton John will ever do. After all, it’s a basic marketing trick. Michael Jackson, Cher and John himself announced on numerous occassions a final tour yet ended up going back on the road. What we can believe though is that the British pop star has enjoyed an incredibly successful career.

It all started in early 1971 with Your Song, a Top 10 hit in both the US and the UK. Soon Rocket Man, then Crocodile Rock, then Daniel confirmed the new status of John as a big pop star. This was only the beginning of a success story that was going to last for 30 years.

John wasn’t always an evergreen seller though. He had various flop albums, he struggled an awful lot to break several markets, and his studio albums are mostly ignored today. He may not have been one of the very top sellers throughout his career, but his ability to rebound again and again has been amazing concluding on impressive totals today.

As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge his results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all John‘s albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming, but it will also determine their true popularity. If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, the next page explains it with a short video. I fully recommend watching the video before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the figures.

4.7 6 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I can’t believe that in Wikipedia it is mentioned that Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sold 30 million copies.


Wikipedia, as we know it, is built by anonymous contributors. Some are reliables, others aren’t. And often, artists pages are fanmade… The 30 million copies for GYBR are as fake and ridiculously inflated as the 1 billion sales claims for the Beatles and Elvis. Or the 750 million sales for MJ, 110 million for Thriller, 300 million for Nana Mouskouri, 45 million for Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, etc.

Andrew Mark

Sales of this album on Wikipedia are supported by a number of sites that give the same sales estimate. I believe the reason so many sites put up sales so high is because the album is double, so it counts twice. It would be nice to find a site that gives this information so it can be placed there, but at this point it gets difficult. After the 30 million appeared on Wikipedia, various sites copied the information and spread it around. What a pity. At least, thanks to Chartmasters we have sales information, no inflation.


Yes, this is the sad part about a lot of media outlets. Many are too lazy to look into anything themselves and simply copy what other newspapers have written already, often word for word haha. That’s how these claims spread


Biggest Tracks

16. 1983 – I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues [Too Low for Zero]4,180,000
17. 1995 – Can You Feel the Love Tonight [Orphan]3,470,000
18. 1975 – Philadelphia Freedom [Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy]3,280,000

The Lion King soundtrack sold 18m though… I understand that you wouldn’t want to credit him for the entire soundtrack, but I feel like he should be credited to some extent, especially if the Tarzan soundtrack is credited entirely to Phil Collins.


hi, coming back to this article im curious as total of dont let the sun go down on me. what are the separate sales for the original and the george michael duet?


hello what are the total AES for George Michael and Elton John’s version of Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me??


What about “Don’t go breaking my heart”? It doesn’t appear on the list although it may have been his biggest hit single during the 70s.


perhaps I’m too blind to find it. I’m not refering to the 1993 version from the Duets album. The original version from 1976 is not on the list with the physical singles. If I overlooked it please tell me.


It *is* on the physical singles list, but it’s missing from the digital singles list.


On which page exactly? I’m sorry, but I’m still confused because it’s not listed under “Rock of the Westies”.


I think that would be fair weight to the extra value of the good box sets. Certainally the people who bought”to be continued” wouldn’t have ran out and bought all the studio albums that made it up. They would have probably bought volume I, II and maybe III of his greatest hits, but the box set had some nice extras in it. So I think if that was given a weight of 2 albums that would be a logical offset. On the other hand, I think if the best of Led Zeppelin would have come out prior to the Led… Read more »


Wow, awesome article. I really thought Elton would finish higher, but still an amazing figure. One thing I was wondering about is why a box set, like “to be continued” is only counted as one unit in the CSPC. I remember buying that box set when it came out, because next to Led Zeppelin it was one of the most comprehensive box sets ever released, and as I recall it was in the neighborhood of $60.00, the equivalent of about 5 or 6 regular album sales at the time. On the other hand Queen’s Platinum Collection was counted 3 times… Read more »


Hi Lance! Interesting question there! Though MJD might explain it further, I believe the main reason for this is because of the nature of the 2 sets. Both are classified as box sets by Wikipedia, but here, Queen’s Platinum Collection is definitely a box set, while To Be Continued is classified as a compilation set. I believe the reason here is because the 3 discs on The Platinum Collection have the same track list as their 3 Greatest Hits Album (I,II and III). Thus, when this box set was released, it cannibalized the catalog sales of all those 3 albums.… Read more »


Apparently, MJD also referred to this situation as well!

MJD: Elton really suffers from an exploitation of his catalog that doesn’t benefit sales units. First, he never had a major selling box set. The only one close to that, To Be Continued…, was a ‘new’ package rather than already existing sets put together.

I hope this answers your question!


I see the logic in it, and I also understand that this site measures popularity and not necessarily the monetary value of sales created the way Billboard tries to, which I think is good because a double album that sells 7 million albums isn’t more popular then a single album that sells 13 million albums. However, I’d argue the 350,000 copies of “to be continued” cannibalized several times that number in studio albums and compilations because it was such a comprehensive set, just as Queen Platnum and the individual Greatest hits albums that made it up cannibalized it’s back catalog,… Read more »


Hi MJD, perhaps a bonus article for your top 10 greatest superbowl halftime shows ever?


I also think Candle in the Wind (the charity single) should be included in Elton John’s total. It may be an outlier and not truly reflective of his popularity but Elton’s popularity coupled with his musical ability in co-writing the song and adjusting the lyrics helped it sell 30 million copies. If that song had been recorded by any other singer (Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, George Michael, Billy Joel, Liam Gallagher etc) it would not have sold any where near that number. The original was written about Marilyn Monroe and this version adapted for Lady Di, both women… Read more »


I can see why MJD didnt include sales of the Titanic album soundtrack to Celine Dion’s name but not including Candle In The Wind to Elton John’s is definitely unacceptable.


But Billboard awarded Celine the soundtrack’s album of year award , and receive name also wrote her


You have a point. The Bodyguard sales was added to Whitney Houston’s sales. And since Kevin Costner’s name is also on the album cover, then Kevin Costner should also share the sales with Whitney.


I point Billboard recognizeed Titanic soundtrack as Celine’s album, present award to her: the name refer to the award


1998 Album of the Year
Celine Dion “Titanic”
1998 Soundtrack Album of the Year
Celine Dion “Titanic”


I was thinking about this matter last night and today and thinking Madonna shouldnt be credited for the sales of Evite because it was for Evita. But when i tried to weigh things more, I have realized that you are more right than what i think is right. So im sorry but now, I agree with you. 🙂


I agree that CITW should be added to Elton’s sales.
I can certainly see the charity aspect, but it is:
1. A Taupin/John penned song
2. Performed by no one else but Elton John
3. Released as a single by Elton John
4. Performed live at Diana’s funeral in front of a billion people by Elton John

But in my mind, I also add groups and solo artists for totals like MJ and Jacksons/J5 together, so no biggie

Nuclear dolphin

I think AC/DC may have a shot at 200 million! Only them and Elvis are left. There are sources on the net that say AC/DC sold more albums than Queen, U2 or The Stones. It’s gonna be close folks! Prepare for a surprise!


i doubt they will be more than 180 million but we shall see.