There’s nothing all that enjoyable and glamorous about information. However when Billboard journal started publishing end-of-year album gross sales figures in 1956, they produced the thinker’s stone of analytics, and the quantitative was rendered thrilling and aspirational. For the subsequent half-century—till the disruptive ascension of streaming providers—artists and executives alike would battle tooth and nail for that coveted primary spot. Under are the women and men who emerged from these annual fights victorious: Learn on to find the best-selling album the yr you have been born.
America’s love affair with the sleek Caribbean sounds of Harry Belafonte was in full swing by the point his second album, Calypso, dropped. Propelled by the recognition of its hit first monitor, “Day-O (The Banana Boat Music),” the album went on to be the primary LP by a solo artist to promote over 1 million copies.
Based mostly on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, My Truthful Woman spent years because the toast of Broadway, as audiences packed the home night time after night time to observe Professor Henry Higgins educate Eliza Doolittle to drop her cockney accent and communicate the Queen’s English. Assuming these outdoors of New York’s theater district may additionally benefit from the songs and story, the producers correctly determined to place the present on wax.
With leads Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison delivering highly effective, nuanced performances and mainstream breakthrough songs like “I May Have Danced All Night time,” “Would not It Be Loverly,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” packed into the monitor itemizing, it is no marvel the album dominated the charts for 2 years in a row.
It is laborious to overstate how widespread some TV exhibits have been when audiences had few different distractions and restricted channels to select from. At the moment, a title theme like Succession‘s could also be widespread sufficient to get meme-ified, however in 1959, the songs from NBC’s detective drama Peter Gunn have been beloved sufficient to not solely be bought, however to develop into the highest album of the yr.
Although most would come to know of Maria von Trapp and the Trapp Household Singers’ story from the Julie Andrews-led movie six years later, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s stage model of the story was a smash hit in its personal proper. Starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel, the solid recording of The Sound of Music beat out the likes of Bob Newhart and the Kingston Trio for album of the yr.
With the Kennedy dynasty coalescing and T.H. White’s The As soon as and Future King dog-eared on nightstands across the nation, it is protected to say that America was going by one thing of a King Arthur section within the late ’50s and early ’60s. Naturally, Broadway capitalized on that fervor with a musical about gallant knights and honest maidens. Simply as naturally, a number of folks purchased the Camelot solid recording.
Modernizing the traditional love story of Romeo and Juliet by presenting it by the lens of feuding gangs and race relations does not intuitively look like a recipe for fulfillment, however the reimagining clearly resonated with audiences entrenched within the civil rights strife of the period. The movie adaptation of West Facet Story received 10 Oscars, together with Finest Image, and its soundtrack offered like hotcakes.
Full of licensed bops like “Maria,” “America,” and “Tonight,” it is easy to see why the West Facet Story soundtrack dominated charts for 2 years straight. Or possibly everybody was actually simply into the Officer Krupke tune. Who can say?
In the identical yr that the Beatles dropped A Exhausting Day’s Night time, the best-selling album was the solid recording of Hiya, Dolly!, a musical a few turn-of-the-century matchmaker. That ought to inform you one thing about simply how into Broadway the nation was on the time.
The queen, Julie Andrews, as soon as once more destroys the competitors, this time together with her portrayal of a prim nanny who events with cartoons and chimneysweeps. Disney’s Edwardian London-set children film musical was principally the Frozen of its day, and the memorable Mary Poppins soundtrack was flying off file retailer cabinets quicker than you possibly can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
For Whipped Cream & Different Delights, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’ fourth and most profitable album, they dropped their standard Mexican sound to cowl a bunch of up to date hits. The racy cowl, that includes a whipped cream-covered nude mannequin, triggered a fuss, however its goofy title tune—which might go on to develop into the theme for The Courting Sport—does not actually match the photograph.
Initially shaped to spoof the Beatles for an NBC sitcom, the Monkees wound up being so unironically widespread that they offered a ton of data. The group’s second studio album, Extra of the Monkees, could be their most profitable, topping the charts for 31 consecutive weeks and going quintuple platinum.
The yr earlier than he would shred “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix launched his debut album, Are You Skilled?, to prompt industrial and important acclaim. And in case you’ve heard even a number of seconds of the man’s fret work, this makes good sense.
A mere half-decade prior, the preferred album of the yr was the soundtrack to a children’ film, however by the Summer season of Love, tastes had shifted to embracing a 17-minute acid rock exploration of the Backyard of Eden, the title tune of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. If that does not put a positive level on the depth and expediency of the period’s cultural revolution, nothing will.
Paul Simon and Artwork Garfunkel notoriously spent a lot of their temporary time because the world’s preeminent people duo butting heads. Fortuitously for all of us, earlier than the discord compelled them to go their separate methods, they launched their fifth and most profitable album, Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Just like the Prodigal Son, America was able to return to the musical file flock solely after a while indulging within the seductive songs of psychedelic rock. Having acquired a style for the tougher music throughout their time astray, the return to the Broadway fold was with Jesus Christ Celebrity, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s audacious retelling of the story of Christ.
Canadian people singer Neil Younger tapped into the American youth’s weariness with the battle in Vietnam for his subtly anti-war fourth studio album, Harvest. Although critics weren’t initially in love with the file, it offered nicely and has since come to be extensively considered an all-time nice album.
Signaling the nation’s ever-expanding tastes was the success of The World Is a Ghetto, the fifth album from Lengthy Seaside-based funk band Battle. A phenomenal mix of jazz, soul, and psychedelia carried the album’s central thesis that the planet is concurrently tousled and delightful.
Written by Elton John’s longtime artistic companion Bernie Taupin, Goodbye Yellow Brick Highway‘s title monitor is an allusion to Ozs important thoroughfare and a metaphor for one’s need to return to less complicated occasions. The lyrics additionally reference canine, owls, and a “horny-back toad,” for all you animal lovers on the market.
It may appear hubristic to have a biggest hits compendium by age 27, however Elton John’s one of many few artists who may again up that hubris with expertise. It additionally helped that, by 27, he was already in a position to pack Best Hits with licensed bangers like “Your Music,” “Daniel,” “Crocodile Rock,” and “Rocket Man (I Assume It is Going to Be a Lengthy, Lengthy Time).”
The album might have been known as Frampton Comes Alive!, however anybody who’s listened to it is aware of the primary factor coming alive is Peter Frampton’s guitar. We’re nonetheless ready for somebody extra scientifically minded to elucidate how blowing air right into a tube makes a stringed instrument speak.
It is laborious sufficient to do one thing so simple as getting a espresso with an ex after a breakup, so for Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to put aside the rancor from their contemporary cut up and file Rumours—not only a cohesive album, but additionally a best-selling and award-winning one—is nothing in need of a heroic accomplishment.
While you consider the quintessential disco pose, you consider a leisure-suited John Travolta pointing to the sky on the Saturday Night time Fever poster. And once you consider the quintessential disco monitor, it will possibly’t be something however the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive,” the primary tune on the movie’s hit soundtrack.
Regardless of Billy Joel’s 5 prior albums containing hits like “Piano Man” and “Solely the Good Die Younger,” 52nd Road was the Bronx pianist’s first to hit primary on the Billboard charts. He’d match the feat three different occasions within the years to return.
The U.Ok.’s premier anti-establishment prog rock act outdid themselves with The Wall, an operatic double album that touches on World Battle II, the British faculty system, dependancy, and anti-fascism. And for an actual journey, remember to try the album’s accompanying movie.
With a genius little bit of wordplay worthy of the bard himself, Hello Infidelity cheekily perverts the audiophile time period “high-fidelity” into one thing of a welcome to unfaithfulness. And as any rock fan is aware of, musicians have a little bit of a fame for dishonest on their spouses.
Within the early ’80s, when it got here to continental bands, there have been solely two names on the town: You have been both Crew Asia or Crew Europe. Asia settled the dispute about who was primary earlier than it even started with their breakout debut album, additionally known as Asia, and graced with Roger Dean’s iconic cowl artwork.
Michael Jackson’s solo profession pivot was set in stone along with his Quincy Jones-produced sixth album, Thriller. It is laborious to overstate what a cultural phenomenon the album was on the time, however its two-year chart dominance and 33x platinum gross sales are an honest indicator.
Past the enduring title monitor and equally iconic accompanying music video, Thriller‘s meteoric success was boosted by having “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and a handful of different all-time Jackson classics in its grooves. That type of helps clarify on a regular basis spent at No. 1.
Although it is usually appropriated for patriotic endeavors, the Boss’ seventh album, Born in the united statesA., is definitely a darkish contemplation of a rustic rotting from the within out. The album was a serious success and the client’s all the time proper—so if these songs make people wish to wave a flag, so be it.
Sometimes a singer comes alongside that forces everybody, audiences and business fits alike, to close up and take discover. Such was the case when Whitney Houston dropped her debut album, appropriately titled Whitney Houston. Although sluggish to achieve momentum, it went on to develop into album of the yr, go 13x platinum, and, most significantly, introduce the world to top-of-the-line to ever earn the title “diva.”
It appears as if each different album from this period went the double entendre route when selecting a title. Bon Jovi’s most profitable album backed up the Slippery When Moist wordplay with a bunch of traditional songs now heard in sorority homes and karaoke bars around the globe.
Earlier than Limp Bizkit claimed “Religion” as their very own with their exemplary cowl in 1997, George Michael had a little bit of success with the tune himself. With Michael’s vocals supported by an impeccable Bo Diddley beat, Religion’s title tune carried the album to the highest of the ’88 charts.
In 1989, the Beastie Boys launched Paul’s Boutique, Madonna dropped Like a Prayer, the Pixies gave us Doolittle, and De La Soul put out Three Ft Excessive and Rising. America stated, “these are cool and all, however we’re at present in a brand new jack swing section,” and acquired Bobby Brown’s album Do not Be Merciless as a substitute.
Don’t fret. You need not have listened to Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nations 1 by 1813 to get pleasure from Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. Simply push play, let Janet Jackson serenade you, and search for Wikipedia recaps of the others in case you get misplaced. All kidding apart, this album gave us hits like “Miss You A lot,” “Escapade,” and sure, “Rhythm Nation.”
On the one hand, Mariah Carey is a kind of uncommon debut albums that not solely sounds nice, however modified the music panorama perpetually. On the opposite, had it by no means launched the world to Mariah Carey, we’d not nonetheless be struggling by each nationwide anthem singer’s try to match her five-octave vary.
Although the somber title Some Gave All alludes to the troops and their sacrifices, the sentimental monitor by no means actually related with Billy Ray Cyrus’ followers. As an alternative, his and the album’s success hinged completely on the goofy center faculty sq. dance lesson staple “Achy Breaky Coronary heart.”
After an extended hiatus, a soundtrack as soon as once more topped the charts, this time for The Bodyguard, a Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner romance. Critics panned the movie, however that didn’t deter clients from selecting up Houston’s new insta-classic.
The apex of Disney’s animation renaissance was its retelling of Hamlet within the Serengeti. The movie’s Elton John-fronted soundtrack was chock-full of hits—and whereas “Circle of Life” and “Can You Really feel the Love Tonight?” received a lot of the fanfare, everyone knows “Hakuna Matata” was the key engine behind the Lion King soundtrack’s success.
Darius Rucker does not get sufficient respect. The person fronted a band that collaborated with Bob Dylan and put out the best-selling album of ’95, Cracked Rear View, and individuals are nonetheless referring to him as “Hootie”?
It is really a disgrace that such a monumental, sea-change of an album has been overshadowed by the reveal that its breakout tune, “You Oughta Know” was written about Full Home’s Uncle Joey. Hopefully music historians could have mercy on Alanis Morissette and provides Jagged Little Tablet its correct due.
Earlier than Myers-Briggs persona checks sorted us all into 16 distinct persona varieties, one may solely be categorized as a Scary, Child, Posh, Sporty, or Ginger. These spice varietals and their consultant women took the world by storm with Spice in ’97.
When you consider it, that “king of the world” entrance of boat transfer from Titanic that folks did on a regular basis within the late ’90s was the unique “planking” and one of many earliest bodily memes of the fashionable period. The purpose being, if this large ship romantic tragedy was highly effective sufficient to get that fad going, it ought to come as no shock that it additionally offered a boatload of soundtracks. The inclusion of Céline Dion’s smash hit “My Coronary heart Will Go On” most likely did not harm both.
The opening salvo of the millennial boy band period was fired by some guys named AJ, Howie, Nick, Kevin, and Brian, and the world has but to get well. Sparking Beatlemania for a brand new technology, the Backstreet Boys’ third studio album, Millennium, took over the world, and cemented their place within the pop group pantheon.
No person stays king of the hill perpetually, and the Backstreet Boys’ dominance was toppled by a bunch of singing marionettes led by a ramen-coiffed Justin Timberlake. No Strings Connected went 11x platinum and compelled us all to say “Bye, Bye, Bye” to a time earlier than listening to these songs on the radio 24/7.