Bryan Adams is one of these artists who remind us that time passes. The iconic pretty face rocker of the 90s is now almost 60. He is still pretty active though with his 14th album, Shine A Light, out this month. One of the first Canadian superstar, he is notably responsible for some of the most remembered ballads of all-time.
After an early start in a local group, Bryan Adams dropped his debut single way back in 1978, more than 40 years ago. The song just scratched into the Top 100 in Canada where his popularity increased gradually in his first years.
In 1981, he got his first Top 50 while in 1982 he got his first US Hot 100 hit. His true breakthrough came one year later when Straight From The Heart went Top 10.
The song was issued from Cuts Like A Knife, a LP that spanned 3 Top 25 hits in the US while reaching Platinum status. It was still nothing in comparison to the blockbuster Reckless.
Home to 6 Top 15 hits, including the chart topping Heaven, this record made Bryan Adams the second biggest rocker of the mid-80s in North America, only topped by Bruce Springsteen.
Surprisingly, he was still looking for significant success abroad. In the UK, he had to wait until 1991 to get his first top 10. The irony is that when at last it arrived, he got the longest unbroken #1 single ever.
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You indeed lasted an immense 16 weeks at the top. It is also one of these singles that made it to the highest position virtually everywhere.
This outstanding hit late in his career was followed by various successful singles like Please Forgive Me, All For Love, and Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? Another atypical fact is that after taking so many years to peak in Europe, he remained popular there much longer than in the US where he has been struggling for 25 years.
How is this unique run translated into sales? How strong Bryan Adams is in comparison to his peers?
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 Bryan Adams‘ albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming. In fact, it will also determine their true popularity.
If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, below is a nice and short video of explanations. I fully recommend watching it before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the numbers directly.
The Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept (CSPC)
There are two ways to understand this revolutionary concept. In the first place, there is this Scribe video posted below. If you are unaware of the CSPC method, you will get the full idea within just a pair of minutes.
If you are a mathematical person, and want to know the full method as well as formulas, you can read the full introduction article.
Now let’s get into the artist’s sales figures in detail in order to apply this concept and define the act’s true popularity!
Bryan Adams’ Album Sales
Original Album Sales – Comments
Early albums Bryan Adams and You Want It You Got It were very discreet sellers upon release. The success the artist managed in later years hardly helped them too since they have no single of note. They moved half a million and a million units to date, respectively.
Cuts Like A Knife definitely put Bryan Adams into the map. It also contains songs with some recurrent airplay which increased its tally up to more than 3.5 million sales to date globally. It still pales against the huge selling LP Reckless.
This 80s classic is up to 12.3 million. It was notably the first Canadian album ever to hit Diamond status for a million sales in his homeland.
Into the Fire was a real step back. It sold 3.3 million units and has very limited catalog appeal. This immediately killed the singer’s momentum, who then was poised to end as a one-album wonder.
That’s when he issued (Everything I Do) I Do It For You as the lead single of the soundtrack of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The album was of little interest for the general public since it included mostly instrumentals which led the physical single to sell monstrous numbers.
Waking Up The Neighbours arrived more than 3 months after the single. That’s why the later was able to spend from 7 to 16 weeks at #1 in every relevant market besides Japan.
In spite of sales of both the single and the soundtrack, Neighbours still registered insane numbers on the back of that song. Each of the 6 subsequent singles where overshadowed by the first one. The album is up to 11.6 million units.
He continued with great sales in 1993-1994 thanks to So Far So Good, a compilation that will be treated in the appropriate section. 1996’s 18 Til I Die sold as much as 60% of Neighbours sales in Europe, Asia and Oceania combined, but kind of flopped in the US, selling only a million.
This situation has since been reproduced over and over. His overall sales dropped album after album, but the drop was even sharper in the US. The prime illustration of that is Room Service which sold a chaotic 50,000 units there out of a 850,000 worldwide total.
Cumulatively, these studio albums sold 42.26 million copies so far.
Bryan Adams’ songs sales
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.
There is little surprise in the tiny sales of singles from the first two eras. By then, Bryan Adams still hadn’t gone mainstream, not even in Canada.
This happened with singles of Cuts Like a Knife. They sold mostly in North America. The US #10 Straight From The Heart is the top seller at 740,000 units, followed by the #15 title track at 625,000 and the #24 hit This Time at 330,000.
Run To You opened the Reckless era. It was a #6 hit in the US, #4 in Canada and #11 in the UK. That was enough to make it the singer’s first million selling single in the World.
Somebody hasn’t done as well going to #11 in the US and #35 in the UK, selling 600,000 units in the process. It’s when Heaven took over the promotional effort with tremendous success. A US #1 hit, it sold 1.45 million copies up to date. Surprisingly, the song failed the top 10 in Canada (#11) and Australia (#12) while getting modest peaks in Germany (#28) and the UK (#38).
The iconic track Summer of ’69 did actually even worse. It was a #5 hit in the US, #11 in Canada, #14 in Australia, #42 in the UK and #62 in Germany. While the song did sell just over a million, its main impact was seen on album charts.
Both One Night Love Affair and It’s Only Love went Top 15 in the US to close the era, selling one million units combined. That made Reckless only the 3rd album ever to amass 6 top 15 US hits, following achievements of Michael Jackson‘s Thriller and Bruce Springsteen‘s Born In The USA.
Ongoing traction enabled Heat Of The Night to sell 720,000 units with Top 10 peaks in both the US and Canada although the song was short lived. The next two singles of Into the Fire failed the Top 20 everywhere, destroying the great run Bryan Adams was on.
Then, (Everything I Do), I Do It For You went through the roof in 1991. The single sold over 4 million units in the US, the 4th highest selling song of the Soundscan era which goes from 1991 to date. In 1991, it was also the first 4 million seller since We Are The World in 1985.
The song also moved over 1.5 million units in the UK, but the dismal market back then in multiple European countries limited its total. The most obvious example is France where the track sold only 325,000 units in spite of 8 weeks at the top and 15 inside the top 5. It still sold nearly 8 million copies worldwide. This number is only topped by 4 songs from all artists we ever studied.
Can’t Stop This Thing We Started did well in the US to sell past a million globally. Following singles weren’t as strong, although they add 2 million between them.
From 1993 to 1995, multiple orphan songs came out. Please Forgive Me was #1 in Canada, France, Australia, Norway, Portugal, Ireland, and Belgium. It went Top 3 in most other countries. A lower, #7 peak in the US reduces its global sales which are close to 2 million nevertheless.
Soon after, All For Love, a trio with Rod Stewart and Sting, smashed too. It went #1 in a dozen of countries including the US. It moved over 2.4 million units, the second highest score of his career.
The tryptic of orphan songs smashes is completed by Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?, another near 2 million seller. It was first used for the soundtrack Don Juan DeMarco and then as part of 18 Til I Die. This was the 4th and last chart topper of the artist in the US.
Through his career Bryan Adams went on to sell some 32 million physical singles. It’s more than Phil Collins and U2 and almost as much as Barbra Streisand and Mariah Carey which shows how well he did in this format.
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1,5 ratio between one album and one digital single.
The run of a song is no different than the run of a person. Almost everybody can run a bit, but through the distance we all slow down. Many of us can’t run much more than a few meters, others some kilometers, others can complete a marathon.
Most songs are over after 6 months, others last a few years, and an elite are still fresh 3 decades on.
Among Bryan Adams‘ catalog there is songs which continue to shine as if they were just getting started. The obvious example is Summer of ’69. First released 35 years ago, it registers more than 4 million digital sales.
A big hit only in the US back then, the song now records half of its sales abroad. As an illustration of its current global popularity, it is an outstanding seller in the UK with 550,000 downloads since 2005 in spite of its modest #42 peak in 1985.
From Reckless, Heaven and Run To You also retain a significant appeal these days with 1.9 million and 1.2 million digital sales, respectively. The remaining 3 Top 15 hits from the initial campaign are now forgotten though.
The story is similar for both early songs and Into the Fire singles. Among all of them, the song Cuts Like A Knife is the strongest with an average result of 290,000 sales.
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You remains hot to this day. It sold over 3.5 million. This is a huge figure and the fact that Summer Of ’69 went on to do even better shouldn’t alter our perception of its success.
Remaining singles of Waking Up The Neighbours do very poorly on their side. The entire track list of the album minus the aforementioned smash add for only 200,000 sales.
Please Forgive Me, Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?, and All For Love are now mid-range legacy hits with numbers around the half a million range. More surprisingly, When You’re Gone started running very slow but it is now as strong as these former big hits.
The same is true for both Christmas Time and Here I Am. The latter extends his period of well remembered songs to 2002.
Streaming is made up of audio and video streams. Our CSPC methodology now includes both to better reflect the real popularity of each track. The main source of data for each avenue is respectively Spotify and YouTube. As detailed in the Fixing Log article, Spotify represents 157 million of the 272 million users of streaming platforms, while YouTube is pretty much the only video platform generating some revenue for the industry. Below is the equivalence set on the aforementioned article:
Audio Stream – 1500 plays equal 1 album unit
Video Stream – 11,750 views equal 1 album unit
Equivalent Albums Sales (EAS) = 272/157 * Spotify streams / 1500 + YouTube views / 11750
A very surprising pattern appears on Bryan Adams streams. His songs #4, #3, #2, and #1 on Spotify respectively rank at #1, #2, #4, and #3 on his personal YouTube list.
The hot favorite to lead his catalog (Everything I Do) I Do It For You is thus not #1 in either platform. It has great figures still with 145 million streams on Spotify and well past 200 million on YouTube.
The monster in this format is once again Summer Of ’69 with a massive 291 million streams on Spotify alone. The track racks up 355,000 EAS. Former #1 smash Heaven has about half of its strength with 9 digits numbers on both sides too.
Please Forgive Me has a huge number on YouTube at 370 million but someway lacks legs on Spotify at 48 million. It seems to be running under its real potential there, likely suffering from the go-to choice of (Everything I Do) I Do It For You for playlists purpose.
There is half a dozen more songs with 30 million plus streams on Spotify, after which we fall into lower grounds. The most negative signal is that You Belong To Me is the only track issued during the last 15 years inside his Top 30. Although he continues to be active, the public clearly sees Bryan Adams as a legacy star.
Full catalog breakdown
If you are familiar with the artist’s catalog and want to check details of each and every song, you can access to all of them right here.
Bryan Adams’ compilations sales
It sounds fairly logical to add together weighted sales of one era – studio album, physical singles, downloads, streams – to get the full picture of an album’s popularity. For older releases though, they also generate sales of various live, music videos and compilation albums.
All those packaging-only records do not create value, they exploit the value originating from the parent studio album of each of its tracks instead. Inevitably, when such compilations are issued, this downgrades catalog sales of the original LP. Thus, to perfectly gauge the worth of these releases, we need to re-assign sales proportionally to its contribution of all the compilations which feature its songs. The following table explains this method.
The distribution process
How to understand this table? In the example of So Far So Good, these figures mean it sold 16,970,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 948,560 equivalent album sales from streams of all types.
The second part on the right of the table shows how many equivalent streams are coming from each original album, plus the share it represents on the overall package. Thus, streaming figures tell us songs from the Reckless album are responsible for 64% of the So Far So Good track list attractiveness. This means it generated 10,928,000 of its 16,970,000 album sales and so forth for the other records. We then apply this process to all compilations present on below table.
Compilations sales figures listing
The ongoing appeal of Summer Of ’69 and Heaven in background of the handful of big hits from the artist during the 90s opened the doors of huge compilation sales. The first global release was So Far So Good.
Containing both old and new super successful hits, it moved nearly 17 million units. It’s all the more impressive since it was replaced a mere 6 years after its release. The Best Of Me, from 1999, sold over 4.7 million copies. Anthology replaced that one too, in 2005, and sold over 1.6 million copies.
In-between, the live recordings of MTV Unplugged also got viral. It sold 3.75 million, a significant number for a live set.
As a bonus, below is the breakdown of the top selling compilations.
Full Length related records Sales – Summary
Here is the most underestimated indicator of an album’s success – the amount of compilation sales of all kinds it generated. Due to the dependency of sales of the original studio albums on these releases, they are a key piece of the jigsaw. These numbers are obtained by applying the method from the section The distribution process to all packages listed under Compilation sales figures listing category.
While their original format sold similar amounts, Reckless appears to be much stronger than Waking Up The Neighbours. It’s not that surprising. After all, the album is way more consistent with multiple hits. Neighbours got high sales thanks to a huge album market in 1991 and the success of one single only.
Apart from its ranking among these albums, the volume of compilation sales powered by Reckless lets us speechless: almost 20 million.
Total Album (all types) Sales per Country
Please note country-specific numbers may miss sales of a few minor releases, although totals are complete.
Bryan Adams Career CSPC Results
So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Bryan Adams achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!
Albums CSPC results
In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, singles from Reckless released in digital format sold the equivalent of 1,125,000 albums – 7,500,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.
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 1/11750 for Video stream)
Wow! Have you seen it coming? Reckless closes counts on a gigantic 35 million equivalent album sales from all formats together. It does reach impressive results in every possible format, including streams, granting its total to continue increasing at fast pace in years to come.
Waking Up The Neighbours is very, very solid too. For a runner up, to be at 21.3 million is huge. The top 2 is obviously miles away from the rest of the pack.
18 Til I Die, Cuts Like A Knife, Into The Fire, and On A Day Like Today are consistent although a pair of levels under, with numbers going from 3 million to 6 million sales a piece through all formats.
Results go down a lot outside of these releases. Recent albums range from 200,000 to 350,000 units. His last album to hit 1 million was issued in 2002, so chances of a popular comeback are now very thin.
Singles CSPC results
The list is compiled in album equivalent sales generated by each song. Therefore, these figures are not merged units of singles formats. Instead, it includes weighted sales of the song’s physical single, download, ringtone and streaming as well as its share among sales of all albums on which it is featured.
1. 1984 – Bryan Adams – Summer of ’69 [Reckless] – 20,670,000
2. 1991 – Bryan Adams – (Everything I Do) I Do It for You [Waking Up the Neighbours] – 18,030,000
3. 1984 – Bryan Adams – Heaven [Reckless] – 9,590,000
4. 1995 – Bryan Adams – Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? [18 til I Die] – 3,490,000
5. 1984 – Bryan Adams – Run to You [Reckless] – 3,110,000
6. 1993 – Bryan Adams – Please Forgive Me [Orphan] – 2,990,000
7. 1983 – Bryan Adams – Straight from the Heart [Cuts Like a Knife] – 2,730,000
8. 1998 – Bryan Adams ft. Melanie C – When You’re Gone [On a Day Like Today] – 2,160,000
9. 1987 – Bryan Adams – Heat of the Night [Into the Fire] – 2,080,000
10. 1991 – Bryan Adams – Can’t Stop This Thing We Started [Waking Up the Neighbours] – 1,350,000
If you feel inspired by this list, we just created this CSPC Bryan Adams playlist on Spotify!
Thanks to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that his sales represent 41.29 million times the purchase of his entire discography. Coupled with his total sales, it translates into an ASR score of 339. He is tied with Barbra Streisand and ahead of Prince, Shania Twain and George Michael. The ranking of all artists studied so far is available too at this link.
Records & Achievements
- At 35,251,000 EAS, Reckless is the 4th most successful album from 1984.
- At 35,251,000 EAS, Reckless is among the 15 most successful albums of all-time from a male artist.
- At 35,251,000 EAS, Reckless is among the 20 most successful albums of the 80s.
- Reckless was the first Canadian album ever to sell a million units in Canada.
- At 21,312,000 EAS, Waking Up The Neighbours is the 10th most successful album from 1991.
- At 20,730,000 EAS, Summer Of ’69 is the most successful song from 1984.
- At 20,730,000 EAS, Summer Of ’69 is among the 20 most successful songs from the 80s.
- At 20,820,000 EAS, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You is the most successful song from 1991.
- At 20,820,000 EAS, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You is among the 5 most successful songs from the 90s.
- At 7,960,000 physical sales, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You is the 4th best selling single from the 90s.
- At 16 weeks, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You is the longest running #1 single of all-time in the UK.
- At 11, Bryan Adams has had the most #1 singles of the 90s in Canada.
- At 32, Bryan Adams has lasted the most at #1 of the singles chart during the 90s in Canada.
NB: EAS means Equivalent Album Sales.
You may be interested in…
… best-selling artists, albums, and singles
To improve your navigation we created several amazing cross-artists lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector article. Click on it to see the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far!
… similar artists
To put figures from this article into perspective, click on the images below to reach career breakdowns of similar artists:
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!