1964 – Barbra Streisand – Funny Girl
The year of 1964 was big for Barbra Streisand. Her Third Album spent 22 weeks in the Top 10, the follow up Funny Girl peaked at #2 with also 22 weeks in the Top 10 while People spent 5 weeks at #1, the only female studio album which topped the US charts from 1956 to 1970.
All 3 albums sold slightly over 1 million units, most of which in the US. Her only hit single was People at #5 inside the Hot 100. It was the title track of People but it was actually a song from Funny Girl first.
Why do I decide to put Funny Girl at number one if all 3 albums sold roughly the same? All songs from Third Album and People have under 50,000 streams on Spotify, meaning they haven’t been creating value for her compilations and live albums. Songs from Funny Girl all have over 100,000 streams, including Don’t Rain On My Parade which sits at over 6 million. This song along with My Man and People were the biggest strength of the 1970 3-million selling Greatest Hits album.
Funny Girl itself was reissued in 1968, this time as a Soundtrack rather than a Cast album, selling 3 million copies. Live albums A Happening In Central Park and Live In Concert At The Forum, which sold more than 2 million copies combined, were also mostly fueled by Funny Girl tunes. Then it also provided a decent help to various greatest hits packages which emerged in later years. In total this album created more than 6,6 million equivalent album sales.
A valid challenger to Barbra Streisand could have been Brenda Lee who released Merry Christmas from Brenda Lee that year, the first album which included the classic holiday song Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. The oldest female song with more than 100 million streams, this hit created sales over plenty of supports during the last decade. The issue is that it was a hit already in 1958 as a stand-alone single, so we can’t really consider it as a value created in 1964.
My Guy by Mary Wells and Dancing In The Street by Martha & Vandellas are two stand-out tracks from 1964, both at 38 million streams on Spotify which proves their lasting appeal. Their lack of subsequent hits prevented them from selling a lot of albums and compilations though. These songs remained popular mostly thanks to multi-artists packages.
While I’m sticking to solo females to establish the annual top album, I feel the need to mention the Supremes. They exploded in an incredible fashion in 1964 thanks to back-to-back #1 hits Where Did Our Love Go, Baby Love and Come See About Me. They had 3 more #1s in 1965 and 2 in each of 1966 and 1967. They sold many studio albums and countless compilations. Had the album Where Did Our Love Go been eligible it would have topped Funny Girl.