1986 – Madonna – True Blue
One of the most successful era of all-time, True Blue is the easy winner for the year 1986. Live to Tell, Papa Don’t Preach, True Blue, Open Your Heart and La Isla Bonita were all #1s in the US and/or the UK. The album was the most global female album ever by then selling over 1 million units in each Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Italy. It even came close in Brazil while selling half a million copies or more in markets like Taiwan and Mexico, places were only Michael Jackson‘s Thriller did so previously.
Numbers speak by themselves, the album sold 22,55 million units, its singles over 12 million. On top of that, they are near 3 million digital sales. They are also responsible for nearly 10 million sales of compilations of every kind. Its total of 36 million plus equivalent album sales generated is second only among female albums up to that date, second only to her own album Like A Virgin.
Tina Turner gets a second big album with her 7-million selling output Break Every Rule, but she falls to Madonna once again. Cyndi Lauper returned with her successful True Colors, which sold 6 million copies on its own, but this time she couldn’t beat her former rival. Anita Baker registered similar results with her album Rapture.
The big breakthrough of the year was a singer with a well-known lastname and soon a well-known firstname too. Janet Jackson released her third album Control and got big on her own at last. Her success, especially in the US, was mind-blowing with all her singles becoming huge with 5 top 5 hits. Control sold over 9 million pure units and its singles 7 million. Thanks to the value it created on compilations and music videos, it concludes on nearly 15 million comprehensive units, still only 40% of the terrific score of True Blue.