Yearly Most Successful Female Album: The Divas (1983-1998)

Madonna, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion. Our celebration of women wouldn’t be the same without these Divas. Thanks to them, female singers moved from the seat of honor to the iron throne with Madonna playing the role of Cersei. Their incredible results led labels to bet bigger on women. Soon, the likes Janet Jackson, Tina Turner, Enya and Shania Twain seize the opportunity.

As a reminder, guidelines of this articles can be found on the first chapter here.

This second part starts with 1983, the debut year of Madonna. It goes until 1998, just before the arrival of a new generation of divas. The Big Four superstars mentioned in the introduction dominate many years from this period, but there is as many as 4 other females who took over the crown for a year, feel free to guess them all! Enough talks, let’s start!

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Now the most times top the biggest female album of year belongs to Barbra, she at least five times (1964, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980)


When will you do Tiffany’s arrticle? I’m really interested in her sales, I can’t find any reliable sources on her, please do her article soon 🙏🏻🙏🏻, it won’t take that long since she only released 2 successful albums, can’t wait until you do 😁and amazing job on all your hard work


Maybe another album’s missing ! 🙂 I think Paula Abdul’s Spellbound (1991) may be over 5M EAS. It went 3xP in the US, 2xP in Canada and ended up certified in Sweden and in the UK. “Rush rush” was #4 on the year-end chart and has more than 10M streams in Spotify. She scored 4 more top 30 hits with this record in the US. She was pretty local, indeed, but really big in the US at that time.


Soundscan Sales Paula Abdul – Spellbound 3,217,000 (08/07/2007)
Canada 0.2m (Certified)
North American 3.7M
UK 0.1m Sweden 0.1m (Certified)
Eruo About 0.5m
ROW 0.2m (Japanese,HK……)
WW Sales About 4.5M
According to Paula Abdul herself: Spellbound – 8.5 million albums and singles
She had no need to lie,the single sales should be around 4m.
So It Comes to 5M EAS
singles Rush Rush About 1m
The Promise of a New Day 0.5m
other singles 0.5m


I think Lisa Stansfield’s Affection (1989) is missing. It went 3xP in the UK, platinum in the US, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, Gold in several countries and its singles were big.


Have you checked Lisa Stansfield’s sales ? 🙂


Hey, this is a random finding, but you state that Paula Abduls debut sold 8 million units in USA. Quoting UKmix, – Forever Your Girl was certified 7x-Platinum in late July of 1990 – There was a 9 month gap between her last cert, and the beginning of soundscan. Id give her 1 million copies there based on chart run -Soundscan did not publish until May 1991 -The album scanned maybe 1,150,000 -Dont know how true this is but it looks like she scan around 1 million club sales … 8#15377738 7 million (RIAA) + 1,000,000 (Club Sales) +… Read more »


Hello MJD,

I’ve read somewhere that Soundscan counted albums sales, starting in January 1991, only for their Year End Chart, not overall sales chart?.?.?

I do like what you are doing, just trying to get a better understanding of things. Did Paula have any Music Club sales? I always assumed she was around 9 million+ in US for her debut.


Thanks MJD…


Would You please estimate WW SALES OF forever your girl ,Thanks, it may reached 11m sales


Hey MJD,

Just wanted to add my two cents regarding Kylie Minogue’s debut album!

The streaming numbers are very low mostly because her PWL catalog was only added last year on Spotify, if I remember correctly. Before that only the songs from Confide In Me onwards were available to stream.

That said, her overall streaming numbers are still very low.


I also think Monica’s “The boy is mine” album (1997) may have crossed the 5M mark. The LP went 3xP in the US and Canada, silver in the UK, and 4 singles from the album made the US top 5, including 3 #1 (one of them being the massive “The boy is mine” with Brandy). Moreover, the album made the top 20 in several european countries such as France and the Netherlands as well as in Australia.


What about Bjork’s debut album ? It is often considered as one of the 90’s best pop albums, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had strong catalog sales.


I thought Sheryl Crow’s 1996 eponymous album was above 5M. It went 3xP in the US and the UK, 5xP in Canada. Moreover, four songs were in her big-selling compilation and two songs are in her 10 most-played songs on Spotify. Are you sure it hasn’t sold at least 5M ?


The best page you really need to check is page 15!