Who were the most successful artists of each decade?

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1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

Any analysis that attempts to compare one year with another has to take into account the different levels of charts for different eras. When examining the greatest song act, greatest songs and greatest album raw scores were adjusted to allow entries from the 1920s to be compared with those from the 1990s. This wide range of source dates meant that we could not combine information from the song and album charts.

When looking at the artists with most chart success in each decade this restriction can be relaxed. In this list we have combined song and album success, but only compared entries across a single decade. The album scores have been given twice the weight of the songs (for the decades where albums were being sold). Here we list the world's top 5 artists of each decade, a more extensive list can be seen on the individual decade pages.

Decade Number 1 Artist Number 2 Artist Number 3 Artist Number 4 Artist Number 5 Artist
1900s Billy Murray Harry MacDonough Haydn Quartet Byron G Harlan Arthur Collins
1910s Peerless Quartet American Quartet Prince's Orchestra Arthur Collins & Byron G Harlan John McCormack
1920s Paul Whiteman Al Jolson Ben Selvin Bessie Smith Marion Harris
1930s Bing Crosby Guy Lombardo Duke Ellington Louis Armstrong Tommy Dorsey
1940s Bing Crosby Glenn Miller Frank Sinatra Jimmy Dorsey Harry James
1950s Elvis Presley Frank Sinatra Nat King Cole Miles Davis Perry Como
1960s The Beatles Elvis Presley The Rolling Stones Bob Dylan The Beach Boys
1970s Elton John The Rolling Stones Pink Floyd Abba Led Zeppelin
1980s Prince Madonna U2 Michael Jackson Bruce Springsteen
1990s Mariah Carey Madonna Celine Dion REM U2
2000s Eminem Madonna Britney Spears Coldplay U2

This approach to calculate success has been selected because it is a relatively objective measure that can be used to compare and contrast acts from the 1930s and the 1990s. It ignores measures that can't be verified (like claimed sales and revenues), ones that vary systematically from one decade to the next (like tour sizes and movie/ pop video audiences), or measures that are impossible to obtain (like amount of media reporting). If your favourite artists are not as high up the list as their own publicity would suggest we see that is a problem with their hype, not with our measure.

We'd be interested to hear about any alternate measure of success that is both objective and applicable across the decades, especially if you've actually gathered any data and made it available anywhere. We'd also be interested if you can suggest ways that our measure could be improved, or ways that it systematically misrepresents particular acts. We're completely uninterested in hearing why your favourite act should be listed higher, once the rules are set the results are automatic, no-one gets to adjust them.

As with all the complex calculations described on the site you can decide to try a different approach, the available CSV File gives you all the data you need. If your analysis shows something interesting tell us about it.

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Previous Comments (newest first)

8 Jul 2014

music

this topic is subject to many different opinions, some are based on pureprejudice ,as a long time music lover, i was born during the birth of rock and roll which also competed with pop music,country and what was then called soul music or r and b, jazz was also popular among some, if you turned on the radio these were your options,its my opinion that the best music as far as melody goes and pure variety of subject matter was 1964-1974, i notice whent he +who the +sold more records question comes up among the younger generation most want to claim its their generation . the problem is they dont have the facts to defend their positions, so there must be a standard you can go by, if we consider total sales which is really the only way to see who had the most mass appeal, , not just certain races or social groups or cultural groups, or age groups, it is a fact that elvis sold more than the beatles.and the beatles sold more than michael jackson, now considering all of these had long record selling time spans,(michael was just a kid and in my opinion was the jackson five,) this is the 123 of record sales, mariah carey is in there too.the fats are allthe others did not or will never come close to these ,no matter what people say.rap and hip hop are sold to a very small base of people compared to these 3 or 4, i can see why,i dont care what race an artist is good songs or singers +you cant help but like them, stevie wonder, the motown sound had a huge audience among a broad range of music lovers, not just white, there is no way you can compare these artists to todays hip hop so called artists, their subject matter is sex sex sex, for the most part and the melodies suck compared to motown ,todays country music all sounds the same with few exceptions, no individuality, now you can say my opinion is based on my +age, not true, my opinion is based on my ears, good melody and good subject matter distinct voices instantly recognized after hearing it only once. karen carpenter elvis, +jackson, lennon mccartney, so many others,diana ross, dion warwick, +these are timeless songs and artists all the others will never come near their talents. melody was lost at some point, subject matter was lost at some point,songwriters who could write about all kind of subjects, not just relationships and sex was also lost at some point, +elvis sold +more records than ANYONE +thats a fact ,the beatles are second, both are still selling records among old and young, the beatles had more influence on music lovers than any group in history, thats fact not just opinion,


19 Jun 2014

Michael Jackson owned the 80s

I'm quite horrified to see that MJ has been ranked 4th in the 1980s. Clearly your so called "complex calculations" logic is nothing but a joke and this site has been put up by some dumb biased Madonna & Prince fans. Please visit wikipedia and read the Guiness book of World records to know more about MJ.

This site is for those that want to use the data to come to their views. You should feel free to believe Wikipedia and not let facts cloud your opinions


29 May 2014

All you Mj fans

John Lennon said it best "before Elvis there was nothing". Mj was more plastic than human. When he died, they probably melted him down into a Lego, so little boys can play with him for a change


21 May 2014

PRINCE EL CAPITANO PER SEMPRE

PRINCE FOR TALENT, MUSICAL GENIUS, INGENUITY AND LIVE PERFORMING BY FAR EL NUMERO UNO


21 Apr 2014

list of century

for sales of records; 1. The Beatles, 2. Elvis 3. Abba for importance and influence; 1. Beatles, 2 Elvis 3.Dylan. Michael Jackson or Madonna do not come close. And of course Mariah Carrey or any hiphop act does not come close. Infact; in records sold(or downloaded, or paid, The Beatles outscore any other artists since 1992.Including U2 Maodnna Eminem Mariah Carey and Prince or Michael J.


16 Apr 2014

elvis vs mj

Clearly, on this site and a few others, the mj fans can't accept the fact that Elvis sold more and had way more hits around the world than he did.


12 Apr 2014

Elvis is overrated

Simply claiming that people have changed something forever shooldn't raisethem on a pedestal. Hitler also changed the course of history, but he's certainly nobody to worship. Regardless, let me make it clear that Elvis was good, but by no means equivalent to Michael Jackson. No, i'm actually not that big of a Michael Jackson fan (Mariah Carey's my favorite) and I wasn't born until 1997, proving that my opinion is impartial and not bias in anyway...

I understand that the author of this used an algorithm and was unbiased, but for the record this is my input for the whole MJ vs Elvis "controversy"

We agree, Elvis was one of the most influential music acts of all time, Michael Jackson was not even the most successful act of the 1980s. They are in no way equivalent.

The idea that because you are young you are impartial is in direct contradiction with our experience.

So we would disagree with your opinion that "Elvis is overrated", but the goal of this site is not to change your strongly held opinions, it is to provide impartial evidence for those who are still open to discussion.


11 Apr 2014

haha

Prince a bigger artist than Michael Jackson? It`s the total album/singles sales worldwide that counts. According to the RIAA Michael Jackson is nr 7 of all time best-selling artist in the US with sales of 75.5 million. Madonna? Nr 15 with 64.5 mill. Prince is waay down at 36 with 39,5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_music_artists_in_the_United_States

In the Uk, List of best-selling music artists in the United Kingdom in singlessales lists Michael Jackson at nr 5 with singles sales of 15.3 million. Prince is at nr 54 with only 5.3 million. What is your definition of success? If a an artist release an album that stays on the top spot for 37 weeks and another that stays on the top spot for 6 weeks and selling almost 100 million combined (Thriller and Bad), Neither Batman, Around the world.. and Purple rain was at number 1 more then 40 weeks combined. Michael Jackson sold 110 million albums in the 80s, more than Madonna and Prince. So he had more success

First of all our calculation shows that Prince had more success in the 1980s than Michael Jackson. On this site we have used five different methods to calculate success across decades, each has been explained in detail. In none of those 5 does Prince score higher than Michael Jackson.

The Beatles two and a half times more US sales, Elvis with almost twice as many US sales. So clearly your evidence supports the conclusion that Michael Jackson is nowhere near either of those acts.

I don't know what source you are using for UK sales figures. Worldwide sales figures for the 1980s are unreliable and certainly useless as evidence.

Our criteria for success are clearly stated, the input data is documented. We report the results of applying systematic processes to defined inputs, we won't fiddle our results for anyone.


28 Feb 2014

??

erm what about.............. DIANA ROSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She was artist 35 of the 1980s

Remeber this listing combines album and song success


26 Feb 2014

Nice to see an objective system at last

Having followed music sales for many years - I have always been annoyed howhype doesn't always fit real life sales or how success in one country is 'sold' by hype as being typical of global success. I think hard-core fans should just accept that their favourite acts may well not have been as globally successful as they would have liked - stop rallying against a very fair system of calculation here and just be glad of whatever successes their favourite acts have had - sales aren't everything!


22 Feb 2014

next decade 2010

When are you going to put out the next decade list... 2010's?

The data from after 2009 is, at best, of limited value. We won't be consolidating this data for a while yet.


14 Feb 2014

Michael Jackson: Incorrect 1980's Placement

ACTUALLY: Michael Jackson IS listed as Billboard's Artist Of The Decade...

Speaking of the false king and culture-thief Elvis, It's reported Michael sold more records since his death than Elvis and John Lennon combined since theirs.

This list is about worldwide success (not just success in the US like the Billboard list). Also it follows a published approach (rather than being swayed by aggressive fans and media notoriety).

The phrase "it's reported that" is a clear flag of your lack of any real data to support your views.


10 Feb 2014

Bing Crosby

It is now clear that Bing Crosby was the man.

Well he was well before my time, it appears from my research that Bing has more number One/top thirty hit's that anyone else.

In fact no one even comes close, in addition to no one being Number One for two decades in a row.

Mr. B. Cosby accomplished the above during the Great Depression and World War Two, which is quite remarkable.

I might add that Bing was a hugely popular radio/movie star +being Number Box office from '45-'49 as well as receiving academy awards. While, I love Elvis, the Beatles, & Michael Jackson the facts speak for themselves that B. Crosby is the MAN.

That is certainly a valid position to hold.

Our estimate is that any one of Bing Crosby, The Beatles, Elvis, Paul Whiteman, Frank Sinatra or Glenn Miller could feasibly be claimed to be the most successful musical acts of the 20th century, depending on how you combine the evidence. For most approaches the top act works out as Bing Crosby, The Beatles or Elvis, but the others turn up for some metrics.

Our calculation is that if Madonna continues to be successful for another decade or so she would join that elite list.

It depends on how you estimate success, but our numbers indicate that Bing Crosby is certainly one of the top 3.


9 Feb 2014

How?

I am curious as to how you calculated this.

The details of the various calculations are all described on the site. The way the main "score" is calculated is described in the "How the site is generated?" FAQ page.


9 Feb 2014

U2

Are U2 really the 14th highest selling artist?

This site does not track "sales" since there is no reliable source for that information and comparing sales in the 1940s with those in the 1970s would be a stupid thing to do.

According to our analysis (which is detailed in the FAQ) U2 are the 14th most successful song artists of the 20th century. They are the 7th most successful album artist.

Our uninformed guess would be that they are certainly in the top 20 best selling artists of all time (but as we said we have no good evidence for that)


2 Feb 2014

Meh

A little embarrassing to be associated with those other MJ fans, but im an MJ fan all the way . Regardless of the stats though, I still think the Beatles, Elvis and MJ are the three best and i dont even like the Beatles. As for Elvis, hes definitely the King of Rock but Jackson was the King of Pop. That said I'm curious to know who is more known worldwide, Elvis or MJ.


21 Dec 2013

elvis

isnt it great to upset the jackson fans, they just cant belive that elvis is the real king,


14 Dec 2013

how is garth brooks not on the list for the 90's

He is listed for the 1990s, artist 16 for the decade is pretty good for someone with so few song hits outside the US.

This site lists artists which have had significant impact round the world


25 Nov 2013

Comment

Reading through most of the comments on this page, It amazes me how many people get really pset that there favorite artist/band is not listed as the biggest seller in a particular decade. Firstly, Its on record sales, If they are not top they did not sell enough. Secondly, you love that artist/band, why should it make any difference to you weather they are top or not?

Simple.

You would have thought so wouldn't you


16 Nov 2013

MICHAEL JACKSON

Michael Jackson was a huge pop star back in the 1980s and I understand why hisfans think he should be No1 for that decade. But they forget that Michael was not very prolific as a recording artist or writer. He only wrote 26 recorded songs by himself on his studio albums, without any professional co-writer help. All other songs were written for him. And he had to hire musicians to make his music. He only released 1 album on average every 5 years. But, the Beatles deserve their rating. They recorded and released 11 studio albums in just 7 years. They wrote over 200 recorded songs in just 7 years. And that music not only made them the biggest selling music act in history but it also changed the way popular songs are written and recorded.


15 Nov 2013

Elvis

Thats a joke, Elvis stoled from black artist. I have never heard black orwhite artist wail and rock like Elvis in such songs as Jailhouse rock and Little Sister and sing ballads like Cant help falling in Love. A black artist did reord Hound Dog (written by a White guy) but its nothing close to Presley's vesrion. That like saying Ray Charles stoled all his music from a white artist because whites invented the piano.


14 Nov 2013

Eminem

Eminem = Rap God


8 Nov 2013

Mariah carey annaylated the 90s highest vocal range to this day more albumssold and more no.1 hits than any one in the game still ripping it with #beautiful goin classic mariah no.1 in over 30 countries and sold PLATINUM +


1 Oct 2013

Eminem

haha while all of you are debating about Michael Jackson, im sitting here happy that my man Slim Shady made it on the list. LEGEND FOREVER GO EM!


15 Sep 2013

Elvis

It's always nice to hear how big Elvis was, and indeed he was a great singer and performer. And along with the Beatles and Dylan one of the greatest influences in music. But as it comes to songwriting, he has achieved nothing. All the big hits are written by other people. And that's why the Beatles and Dylan are both bigger than Elvis.+


9 Sep 2013

MJ V ELVIS.+

I'm sorry. Elvis was good. But he was in no way bigger than Michael Jackson atall. Elvis stole alot of dance moved and his singing style from black artists as mainstream media back the blew it up to be something new and original.

Michael Jackson and Madonna are both the King & Queen of pop. This whole chart is sketchy.

Evidence?


21 Aug 2013

Miles

The 50s weren't even Davis' best decade.


19 Aug 2013

What's in a name pt. 2

Thank you for answering my question, "how much does a name influence the success of an artist?" Your reply was, "How would you define a test to measure such an effect? The data is available for download, if you can use it to answer that question we'd like to hear about."

Honestly, I was asking for your personal opinion on the matter. I'm in theprocess of finding the information to support my argument that an artist name is VERY important, but I would like to hear what you have to say about it. It seems like all Male artist with no more than 2 syllable first names and last names are often very marketable and liked the most. Paul McCartney may be the most successful solo male artist there is, counting his work with the Beatles, but his name is an exception because of his history with the Beatles. Madonna is another exception that falls into the category of one word names being easier for fans to remember. I have to do a lot more research but I would like your opinion on what is in a name and it's correlation with success. I honestly don't think Bob Dylan would've made it as "Robert Zimmerman" or Jimi Hendrix as "James Marshall Hendrix." It just doesn't roll off the tongue right, haha.

I really don't have a good feel for the impact that an artist's name has, as you say Robert Zimmerman or Priscilla Maria White don't sound like pop stars, but maybe that's just because they changed their names, if they hadn't maybe we'd have thought that anyone called "Bob Dylan" was never going to hit the big time.

But just looking at the successful artists doesn't tell you anything, you have to contrast their names with "typical" showbiz names (and where you get them from is a different question). I guess you could look at all the artists that "broke" in a particular year and contrast those that became a success with those that didn't...

Like I said, we'd be interested in your results


16 Aug 2013

Where is avenged?

If you mean the group "Avenged Sevenfold" it will be some time before they accumulate enough hits to be on this list.


14 Aug 2013

From Bing Crosby to Emminent M- +wow

Kind of tells you how far we've regressed, doesn't it. From the style and crooning of Bing, Elvis and even the classic Beatles to the crap of Rap

Wow.


30 Jul 2013

The sun never sets on a legend !!

Elvis wont be beaten there will never be an entertainer who will be thatunique to impact on people lives around the world like he did and even though he as been dead for over 35 years he still as big draw to his hometown of memphis and continues to sell records and gain gold and platinum awards year on year!!


19 Jul 2013

Most successful artists of each decade

Marcia - here is a starter. +There are many sites that list top songs through the decades. +Let's see what exciting sheet music or albums you have to share. I can't wait!!!!

Meri


1 Jul 2013

Queen of Pop

Madonna should be 1 in 80s and MJ 2 but ok...80's,90's,00's she is #2 and she deserve this..!!!!!!


27 Jun 2013

RIAA says Elvis sold the most

While I enjoy diversity and the talent the many artists have displayed over the years, I wanted to know which artist sold the most records. It wasn't as close as I thought.

According to the R.I.A.A., the governing body that certifies Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum Record Sales, (Recording Industry Association of America) the Leading all time Artist in Record Sales is ELVIS PRESLEY. Elvis is the leading sales artist for both Solo Artist or Group. Elvis has sold over 2.5 Billion Records Worldwide. ( A Billion is 1 Thousand Million). Elvis has been on the charts more times than any other artist or group. Elvis has the most hits in the Top 100, the Top 40, The Top 10, and has had 32 Number 1 Records. Elvis is the only artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Country Music Hall of Fame, The Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and The Rythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

John Lennon said: "Before Elvis there was nothing". Bruce Springsteen said: "There are pretenders and contenders... but their is only one King". Elton John said: "There is no one greater as an artist on this earth, Elvis was my inspiration... he is the Man. Period."

Paul McCartney said: "I thought the Beatles had gold records, until I had a private tour of Graceland... the hall of Gold says it all... Elvis has the most Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum sales of all of us.... amazing man... simply amazing".

According to the R.I.A.A., with help from EMI, the Beatles place number 2 on the list of All Time Record Sellers with nearly 1.6 Billion Records sold worldwide. Hey Jude was their Biggest selling record followed by Yesterday.

Michael Jackson made the top 20, placing number 16 on the list of all time Record Sales. His Album Thriller is the Biggest Selling Album of all time with over 50 Million Copies Sold. Michael's personal sales as a Solo Artist, along with the Jackson 5, has sold a total of 185 Million Records worldwide. (His Album BAD sold 22 Million copies).

These certifications, current as of March 1, 2009. Every 3 months the R.I.A.A., with the help of BMI, and ASCAP... update record sales awards.

So, there ya go folks. Those are the true facts. And, I might add, Elvis, the Beatles, and Michael Jackson continue to sell records daily.

So, their record sales will continue to increase. But remember, in Elvis and the Beatles day, you had to sell 1 million copies for a single, and 500 thousand for an album to be certified gold. Now days, you only have to sell 500 thousand singles and 250,000 albums to be certified gold. That's what makes the sales records of Elvis and the Beatles even more impressive.

The Fans and Other Entertainers called Elvis, "The King of Rock and Roll". The term "King of Pop" was self imposed by Michael Jackson. It stuck from there, but Michael called himself that... that's what he wanted to be called.

The Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., named Elvis Presley, "The Greatest Entertainer of the 20th Century".

Source(s): The Recording Industry Association of America, ASCAP, BMI, Billboard Magazine, RCA Records/BMG Records.


18 Jun 2013

What's in a name?

Through your research, how much does a name influence the success of an artist?

Also, do you think this new trend of one word names for artist is more beneficial to an artist career than the conventional two names?

How would you define a test to measure such an effect?

The data is available for download, if you can use it to answer that question we'd like to hear about it


17 Jun 2013

1920s and 1930s

From what I have been hearing around I thought that George Gershwin would have been more successful during these decades. What place is he in right now?

We list the performers not the writers


16 Jun 2013

mj to be number 1+

Michael Jackson should be number 1 in the 80s. Thriller sold 65-110 million copies and bad sold around 40 million no other singer could match them sales.

Firstly this is about success across the whole decade, other artists had more singles and albums in the charts.

Secondly no one who has actually examined the evidence could possibly believe 110 million copies, and anyone that suggests that number cannot be taken seriously.


12 May 2013

Elvis No1

Elvis should be in top 5 in 70s. +He spend more time on the UK charts than any other artist in the 70s-- Most weeks on UK Singles Chart by decade 70s- Elvis Presley 331weeks Elton John 223 weeks Diana Ross 220 weeks Paul McCartney/Wings 216 weeks Rod Stewart 209 weeks

PLUS had many big hits in the 70s worldwide like The wonder of you, Burning love, Moody Blue, Way down, My Boy, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, My Way, and Always on my mind. King of rock and roll.

Our algorithm says Elvis is 11th. We think that reflects his global performance.

If you disagree download the CSV data and try your own approach, tell us if you find an analysis that puts Elvis near the top for the 1970s


11 May 2013

???

How did Mariah Carey not make the top 5 artists of the 2000's decade??? Her album The Emancipation of Mimi was the best-selling album of 2005.

We are almost certain that "X&Y" by Coldplay outsold it even in the US in 2005. Being a top artist of the deacde requires more than one top album


9 May 2013

I wonder if madonna was more successful in 80s than m.j!

In the 1980s - Madonna: 4 number one albums, Michael Jackson: 2. Madonna: 14 number one songs, Michael Jackson: 13

Our algorithm says that Madonna tops Jackson in the 1980s (easily), but we provide the data (in the CSV file), download that and see what the order is when you try your method


28 Apr 2013

Most Successful Musical Act

Elvis Presley is the Greatest Selling Musical Act of All-Time bar none. Sony,his current music company, have recently stated that his Worldwide sales are over 1.1 Billion. That is more than The Beatles or Michael Jackson. In fact, Michael Jackson's sales do not even total half of what Elvis has sold. One only has to do the math for the number of albums Jackson has released to see this. If every album sold as many as 'THRILLER' or BAD' he would still be nowhere near 500 million in sales. Of course, Elvis was far more than just a singer/entertainer but quite an historical figure. It was he alone who broke down social and cultural barriers in 1950's U.S.A. making it easier for all artists who followed in his footsteps. In doing so he paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. Elvis was the complete package: he had the talent, the looks, the voice, the charisma, the moves, the attitude and was extremely humble with it. Today, Elvis is still the template by which success is measured in the music industry and his voice and image are everywhere from motion picture films (his image is even featured in the latest futuristic Tom Cruise film) to musical stage plays to touring concerts and TV soap operas to being the most impersonated entertainer ever. Elvis is also the most photographed person of all-time. He was simply THE BEST and truly 'sui generis'.


26 Apr 2013

elvis presley

Just a thought but I would think Elvis would be in the top 5 for the 70s

Our estimate is that Elvis was the 11th artist of the 1970s based on hit songs and albums


14 Apr 2013

Thank You

Thank you for using DATA to come up with the CORRECT figures. This page is packed with reliable information that is not biased in any way, shape, or form. Thank you for standing firm with results when some posters try to argue otherwise. Some people can't appreciate anything.


12 Apr 2013

garth

Garth Brooks trails only the Beatles and Elvis in alltime record sales...

That is so obviously wrong its not even worth reading your rant any further


9 Apr 2013

Lex

The younger generation doesn't know shit about Elvis Presley. His legacy died a long time ago... ...even little kids know who Michael Jackson is...

White people don't want to accept the fact that MJ was bigger than Elvis and The Beatles...

Your racially based bias in favour of Michael Jackson is both blatant and deplorable. It has no place in any rational discussion.

We use data rather than personal opinion to assess success, Prince had more hits in the 1980s. Your suggestion that we have in some way promoted hime above Jackson because we are "white people" is both insulting and obviously stupid.


6 Mar 2013

Are you a fan of Prince? Just curious

Not really. But there again that's the whole point, our opinion shouldn't matter.


5 Mar 2013

Gross sales

I'm wondering whether you have sales figures for individual records. I'm particularly interested in when any jazz-oriented artist first reached the million mark. Did the Original DIxieland Jazz Band? Paul Whiteman? Ted Lewis? Thanks for your help.

We don't trust any published sales figures.

Wikipedia claims that the first "Gold Record" was presented to Glenn Miller in February 1942 to celebrate "Chattanooga Choo Choo" which had sold 1.2 million copies.

Given the fact that the war caused there to be fewer artists with bigger sales, our guess would be the first million selling records would be in the early 1940s rather than the 1930s. We would suspect that Glenn Miller really was the first artist to reach this mark.

There are few enough reliable sales numbers from the 1970s, so finding this type of information for the 1930s would be a welcome surprise (if you know of any please tell us)


4 Mar 2013

MJ V ELVIS

No doubting MJ's musical talent @ stage presence. However, he never eclipsedeither ELVIS or the BEATLES & probably never would. As good as he was, those two were proven to be more successful & probably more popular. They were all great though.


28 Feb 2013

LEGENDS

I'm happy to see many legends as The Beatles, U2, MJ, Madonna, Prince and Elvis Presley. They are not only the most successful artists, but legends too, people will remember them forever.

There are also some other lucky artists that that somehow managed to enter thelist but then they weren't being successful as Mariah Carey and wait for Britney.


27 Feb 2013

THE BEACH BOYS

There's gotta be something pertaining to the Beach Boys. The greatest sellingAmerican rock band ever and the most important, influential and timeless. Maybe they didnt surpass the Beatles in sells but certainly in quality and longevity.

The Beach Boys are listed as the number 5 artist of the 1960s


25 Feb 2013

Pearl Jam

The original grunge


14 Feb 2013

THESE ARE FACTS

I commented here back in 2009 complaining about madonna being #1 and mariah #2 in the 90s. look now, 4 years later, they are finally reversed. nice update, huh. mariah would win by miles in the 90s if asian countries tally their own charts. we all know how BIG she is in Asia. even bigger than MJ and The Beatles. Not a Madonna hater, but nobody really cares about her in Asia.

Proof: Her highest grosser tours never had a stop in Asia (one in Israel, but that's somehow in Europe)


10 Feb 2013

Nirvana

Where the hell is Nirvana?! They were way more successful than Mariah Carey and they changed music forever.

Artist number 6 of the 1990s (by our metric)


27 Jan 2013

Queen

I'm glad to see Queen so high on pretty much all lists. After The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, they are up there along with other great bands. There are several poll critics and similar stuffs employed in here, combined with charts stats, which is something I don't share. Not questioning it, just mentioning it isn't why I would opt to do myself. I suppose that if no "critics" lists were used, Queen would be higher as they were always hated by most of them.


24 Jan 2013

The Beatles

It always amuses me that Michael Jackson fans think that MJ was the biggeststar in music. And yet, he was not. His sales began to decline after the early 90s, and if it was not for his death, those sales would remain in decline. However, the Beatles continue to sell to each new generation as if they were a new act. Every several years there appears to be a new wave of Beatlemania sales. Great music will live forver.


21 Jan 2013

The Beatles

It is interesting that Michael Jackson fans are so convinced that their idolshould be the best selling music act in history. And there is no doubt that MJ still has a lot of fans. However, if they took the time to research official music data sites such as RIAA, they will discover that the Beatles are the top selling act in USA with MJ at No 11. Or check out Musicwire for the top selling acts 1991 - 2012. Beatles are No 2 and MJ is not in the top 10. In fact, he was not even in the top 50 until he died. And there is always the Guniness Book of Records that shows the Beatles as the top selling act in history with Elvis as top solo act. MJ was popular in his day, but MJ fans think that popularity in record sales continued into the 90s and 2000's. He was a good singer, but remember, there were many writers and musicians who made his music.


8 Jan 2013

just wanting clarification

I was just trying to make sure I am understanding the method by which the list was compiled. I understand this list goes by number of hits and worldwide placement of said hits, but does it count the number of weeks at the position, or just the position in general? I.E., if an artist had say 4 top 10 hits each of which spent 3 weeks in the top 10, vs. an artist with just 1 top 10 hit that spent 15 weeks in the top 10, who would be more successful per your method? Would it be the artist with more top 10 hits, because they had more hits, or the other artist with more weeks in the top 10, who only had the one top 10 hit?

The calculation is described in one of the FAQ pages. We don't take account of the number of weeks because quite a few of the source charts don't have that information.

We do publish the data in the CSV file, so you can try using another method, tell us if you find anything interesting


20 Dec 2012

America the Beautiful

I'm a huge arabesque fan & of Turkish music, too. Ibrahim Tatlises has sold 100 million records across a number of countries in the Arab region. What about Um Kartom (Egypt)? She was the voice of the Arab world until her death at 92.

In America, my favorite in the 80s was Madonna; glad to see the she rates number #2 across three decades. So Prince beats Michael Jackson - though I liked Michael better, for me it was Off the Wall and Thriller; the rest was junk. Prince's Dirty Mind and Purple Rain were worth the money. U2 also deserves (and has earned) the right to be top 5 over three decades, like Madonna. Thanks for going ALL the way back to the very beginning of the twentieth century - very fascinating! How about Rihanna? I bet she will be the top artist of the "teens", as she has 12 billboard number ones and counting. Lastly, where are Abdel Halim Hafez (Egypt)? Ferdi Tayfur (Turkey)?

Harout Pamboujkian (Armenia)? Again Ibrahim Tatlises has sold many records in countries where his language is not spoken

Thanks for the kind words.

The artists you mention are not listed just because we don't have any good chart listings for Egypt, Turkey or any of the Arab countries.


12 Dec 2012

mj is 1

michael jackson is clearly the biggest star of the 80s and probably the most talented performer of all time. u2 deserves there spot if you where alive then youd know u2 was the biggest band of the 80s. nirvana should have made it for the 90s.


11 Dec 2012

best ever

Elvis is still the best and most successful. EVER The King


21 Nov 2012

Michael Jackson vs Prince

I'm sure by your criteria Michael Jackson places third for the 80s. But if the question comes up Who Was the Biggest Star, who had the broadest fan base, who will be remembered, who stands out in the public consciousness and who is the greatest talent from that period. It is clear to most people the answer would be Michael Jackson.

To tell you the truth he kind of Creeped me out toward the end of his life butthere is no denying his talent. Prince is a flash in the pan by comparison. I know you will say that's my subjective opinion and I am entitled to it. That doesn't make it any less true.

That's your subjective opinion and you are entitled to it. Other people would have different views.


3 Nov 2012

Just to understand your list

Is your list based on number of released albums and singles, or is it based on number of hits? And if it is based on number of hits is there a fixed amount of points that the artists get for each hit? Or do you also wheigh in the amount of sales each hit sold?

What I am asking is:

if you compare two artists and the first artist had 1 hit that sold 100 million copies, and the other artist had 5 hits that sold a total of 50 million copies. Which of the two artists would be ranked highest?

John/RIAA Washington

The answer to your questions is on the "FAQ: How the site is generated?", it explains the algorithms used and why they are as they are.

To clarify one point sales figures can't be trusted. No one knows the real sales figures for "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", anyone who claims they do is either deluded or lying.


31 Oct 2012

charts

Fascinating work. Only thing I can't reconcile is absence of acts who make RIAA top ten in all time album sales (US & Canada). For example Garth Brooks is 3rd on that list behind Beatles and Elvis, Eagles are 5th, Pink Floyd 7th, Streishan 8th, George Straight 9th. Seems your calcs are too pop heavy, whereas RIAA measures sales regardless of genre. And I get your worldwide emphasis, still seems there is a need to differentiate between CD sales and popularity of pop singles thru airplay, sales, downloads etc.

Garth Brooks is already in the "most successful artists of the 1990s" list. He is rated as 16th.

You ask if our calculations are "pop" heavy, we would say that they are not, our goal is to reflect Worldwide success and Country Music has had little impact outside North America.

A French speaker might just as well complain that our focus is too much on songs in English. We would claim that the most successful songs of the last 100 years happen to have mostly been in English, because of the market available and the emphasis of the record companies. We list the songs with greatest success, and they happen to be in the English language, this reflects the world, its not because we have a bias against French lyrics.

Similarly the "Pop" genre has greater success round the world as a whole than Country Music, Disco, Reggae, J-Pop, Barbershop, Progressive or Skiffle. We would claim it's not that we have "pop heavy" calculations but just the way the world is (or rather was).

We would certainly be interested to explore the difference between album sales and "the popularity of pop singles". Outside the USA and the UK we don't think we have enough data to make a reasonable job of that. This tends to be an area where personal opinion (especially when loudly expressed by fans) overwhelms any attempt to take a more measured (and data based) approach.


28 Oct 2012

Bee Gees not on list?

I am baffled by the Bee Gees omission during the decade of the 70's. For four years no one could touch their numbers.

We are baffled by your bafflement. The Bee Gees are number 6 in the list of artists of the 1970s (look at the 1970s page). Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Abba and Led Zeppelin all had more hits (especially when albums are taken into account).

Four years is less than half the decade


24 Oct 2012

You're missing George Strait in the 90's or Garth Brooks. Strait has the most number one singles of all time in any genre and Garth was a huge crossover artist. And Strait has 39 albums produced. Queen could also be used for the 70's. Not a bad list at all otherwise. Good job.

The total number of national number ones number one songs George Strait and Garth Brooks has had in the Billboard Hot 100 is zero. We ignore all genre specific charts, being number one on the country music chart has almost no impact outside the USA. Neither artist has had much success outside the USA.

Queen are already in both the 1970s listing and the 1980s one. They had more worldwide success in the 1980s.

(Personally I think their 1970s albums are much better than the 1980s material, but my tastes have no influence on the order - Steve)


20 Oct 2012

Partly correct list

Interesting list you've put up. However not completely correct. Like most people state here (maybe just because they are fans), Michael Jackson should be put as the number 1 artist in the 80s. I've worked 34 years for RIAA (and still do)...

I'll come back with all the information you need...

John/RIAA Washington

First your claim that "most" people here feel Jackson should be considered the most successful artist of the 1980s is quite wrong. Most of the pro-Jackson posts here come from just a handful of IP addresses, there are clearly more individuals that disagree (but they each write fewer posts).

And I'm afraid you are completely wrong, the data here IS completely correct. We've said many times why claimed sales numbers are a bad indicator of success (and often obviously lies as well). You, of course, are welcome to give them more importance and credibility than us.

The way we work is that we clearly define the criteria for measuring success, then crunch the numbers and present the results. We don't start by assuming that we know which artist is "should" be top and find evidence to support our personal biases. Even if we disagreed with the results the rules we have set for this analysis would not allow us to later fiddle the results and place Michael Jackson at the top of the list.

So the data listed here IS completely correct. You might claim that it is incomplete (which of course it is, for this topic all such sets are incomplete). You might also claim that the metrics we use are not appropriate (but then you'd have to propose some better measures of success of course).

We'd welcome any suggestions you could make to improve the way we define success (and, for example, giving special favour to any particular artist would not be an improvement).

When you provide actual information (that we can access in independent sources) rather than unsupported assertions we'll be interested to see how we can use it.


28 Sep 2012

90's

Very interesting list, most of the artists are living legends that continue having successfully careers, I've to admit I'm surprised the fat Mariah Carey was successful in 90's, Who is she? I saw her on a clip with Nicki Minaj, and in some photos of an American show, but that's all. In 00's list she almost dissapear from the list. I don't have anything against her, but she is overrated. I bet this new decade she won't appear on the top 40.


16 Sep 2012

LINKiN PARK

WHERE IS LINKIN PARK

12th highest placed act of the 2000s

As the text on the years after 2007 says our data has some issues so the decade 2000-2009 might generate some dubious results. But placing Linkin Park below, Eminem, Madonna, Britney Spears, Coldplay and U2 and above Radiohead, Alicia Keys, Green Day and Nickelback seems reasonable to us.


12 Sep 2012

Where's Whitney?

What about Whitney Houston? How did she not make the top 5 in the 80s or 90s?She had 2 of the biggest selling albums of the 80s and THE biggest selling album of the 90s - The Bodyguard.

Maybe because she released fewer albums? I don't know, just seems weird that Whitney Houston is nowhere on this list, she was a huge star. Or maybe because her peak was from 1985-1995 so it split between two decades?

Fewer albums, scores split between the decades, yes both those contributed.


4 Sep 2012

I've done some research myself and I've concluded that, in terms of top 20 hits worldwide in the 80s, you get:

1. Prince - 28 2. Madonna - 24 3. Michael Jackson - 23 4. Bruce Springsteen - 17 5. U2 - 16

I don't think Michael and Prince fans should fight about this. If somebody's your favorite artist, then listen to their music. They don't have to be #1 on every list for you to like them. This man (Steve, I think) is very good at calculating these numbers and sales, and after doing research myself I am convinced that the top 5 of his 80s list is completely correct.

Prince scored five #1 albums worldwide and twenty eight top 20 hits. It's quite plainly obvious that he was, in terms of charts, the most successful artist of the 1980s. Madonna followed closely with four less top 20 singles and two less albums. Jackson's argument is way overdone. Because of his two-album input, he's at 4.

U2 has the least hits out of the 5, but four #1 albums puts them much higher. And Bruce Springsteen, while he had a pretty good time with 17 hits and three #1 albums, falls one album short of U2. Even though he has one more hit than them, albums count more so U2 is obviously ahead.

Just because Jackson was super-popular in America or U2 in Ireland etc... does not mean they had the same level of success on charts or worldwide. It's a little weird seeing Jackson at 4, but after doing your own research you'll realize that Steve did a great (and accurate job).

What a great summary (and we're not saying that just because you agree with our results).

We'd be interested to learn more about your research. Especially the sources of chart data you used.


31 Aug 2012

@the guy who wrote "2 all yall MJ fans"

U actually forgot Do me Baby, Dirty mind, and raspberry beret, this brings prince's # up to 29 top 40 hits in the 80s alone :)


30 Aug 2012

Michael Jackson

I have heard lots of no 1 songs in my life but I could only remember the songs of Michael Jackson, personally I believe he is the most successful artist of all time no matter how many hits the others have, Michael is the most influential successful artist of all time to most people. No list is accurate not even yours so it doesnt really matter.


24 Aug 2012

Interesting list

I think this is in all honesty an interesting list, as you can clearly see the changes between the centuries. As a 70s fan of course I may be extremely biased towards Bernie, Elton, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles due to having a truck full of vinyls from that time. But from an unbiased view: whether this list is 100% accurate may still be debatable (as with all lists and things on the internet) but it still shows us a decent amount to judge for ourselves what we find as music. After all, music is music, love is love and people are people. This is simply market sales, so there's no need to get too annoyed or saddened if your favourite artist is not on the list, seeing as this is just statistics.

We would claim that unlike most "things on the internet" we have provided enough links to allow the reader to check that we are being as accurate as we can be and to tell us how we could do better.

We would agree that "whether this list is 100% accurate may still be debatable". That just comes with our choice of subject (and the duration we attempt to cover).

This list is, as you say, "just statistics". As you suggest it should provide a starting point for each reader's personal view. But outside personal opinion what else is there but "just statistics"?


22 Aug 2012

OMG ms Houston

Where is Whitney Houston

Number 7 in the 1990s and number 15 in the 1980s.


15 Aug 2012

this is for yall mj fans

to all you Jackson fans, let's see the results... I will write all Top 40 hits for prince in the 80's (not just in US, ANYTHING that charted in any world chart is included), and the top 40 hits for Jacksonn

prince: I wanna be your lover, controversy, 1999, little red corvette, delirious, when doves cry, let's go crazy, purple rain, i would die for you, take me with you, pop life, kiss, mountains, girls & boys, another love hole in ur head, sign of the times, if i was your girlfriend, u got the look, i could never take the place of your man, alphabet street, glam slam, i wish u heaven, batdance, party man, arms of orion, and scandalous

prince = 26 hits, three #1s, three #1 albums

jackson: shes out of my life, the girl is mine, billie jean, beat it, wanna be startin' something, human nature, pyt, thriller, farewell my summer love, girl ur so together, bad, the way u make me feel, man in the mirror, dirty diana, another part of me, smooth criminal, leave me alone, and liberian girl

jackson: 18 hits, seven #1s, two #1 albums

I apologize for the length, but this is obviously in Prince's favor. He had more #1 albums, and more Top 40 hits worldwide. Sorry Mikey fans, but Prince WINS!!!!!!!

Oh, and I looked at Madonna's sales... she had 24 Top forty hits, just 2 less than prince, but a considerable amount more than michael. Considering she has the same amount of #1 albums as Prince, but two less hits it makes sense Prince is one ahead of her.

although it seems madonna had more hits than him, prince (surprisingly) is ahead of her in terms of worldwide sales.


6 Aug 2012

Best voice ever !!!

Mariah carey has broken almost evrey record there is, she has more nr one hits in europe and asia than madonna, madonna is a overated singer, mariah carey is named the voice, and she has own more than 10 oustanding awards and some of them where made just for her, mariah carey is better, hotter and bitchas she has wrote her own thing all the way through her carrier. She has influsend almost every big artists now, from beyonce to simon cowell, you dont have to love her but threat her like one of the kind cause she is truly amaziing, #the voice

We "threat" her just like every other artist, and will continue to do so. The thing that counts here is actual achievment, not personal opinion.


2 Aug 2012

Do these statistics really answer the question of "who is the most successful artist"?

I want to make one thing clear before I make my comments: I am not stating who I may like better or who I am a fan of. I am simply stating my opinion as to how the basis of the statistics may not be indicative of who is more successful. Instead, these statistics should be used as PART of the analysis when indicating who is more successful.

So it seems like the way you've listed these acts is more about quantity over quality. Yes, Michael Jackson only had two albums released in the 80s (plus he released some songs off of the "Off the Wall" album in the very early 80s.) This is a lot less than the other folks on the list. So when talking about quantity, yeah MJ is behind.

But trying to measure quality on a statistical basis is a lot harder. For example, while MJ had one superb hit, Madonna had to make two hits just to equal the impact that MJ had. And if you had to ask anyone, from the elderly to the young who were the biggest names in music it would be MJ, the Beatles and Elvis (this has more to do with the quality of the music & their impact rather than the quantity). So what that Mariah had more number one hits than Elvis, he still had a much bigger impact than her.

And Rihanna for example has had more weeks at number one than Michael Jackson, are you ready to say that she is now more successful than him?

Anyway, what I'm basically trying to say is, is that there is more than just "how many hits the singer has had" that makes them successful. This website is just looking at one question, and thats fine if that is all you want to rank these artists by.

But if you really want to know who is the most successful singer, you've got to look at the whole picture, and in my opinion this website hasn't done that.

First, to be clear, we do not just "count the hits" to come to the results we have, we do assign different weights to number one hits, top ten hits and those below. We have applied a number of different ways to measure success in the charts and they almost always come to similar conclusions.

Of course any measure of "success" ends up being subjective. So some of what you say is a valid set of reasons to be wary of any "fact based" measure of an artist's success.

However in any such discussion people hold irrational views (we include ourselves in that statement). In our opinion any analysis based on actual facts is always better than personal views. We don't know of any other measures that are better than chart success, if you have any (concert attendance, mentions in history books, plays on mp3 players) then we would be most interested to see your data. Until you make that available this data, flawed as it is, is the best available.

There can be no better illustration of the dangers of subjective measures of success than your suggestion that "anyone" would list Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Michael Jackson as the three most influential artists of the 20th century. That might be true of those who were teenagers in the 1980s, or fans of the Jacksons but we would guess that most of the people we know would name Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Abba, Elton John, Queen Glenn Miller or others before getting to Jackson.

If we were to ask about the most important artists of the 1980s then we would suspect Madonna, U2 and Michael Jackson would be the obvious candidates, but even then Michael Jackson would probably be last (which is what the chart data says as well of course). We do, of course, understand that this reflects more on the people mix with rather than the wider world.

By using chart data we have an objective measure that is not influenced by a small number of vocal and aggressive Michael Jackson fans, in the way that, for example Wikipedia is. It is also true that some of the sensational aspects of Jackson's life (and death) have given him a high level of coverage in the tabloids. But media's obsessions and the bully-boy tactics of devotees should not be allowed to impact an objective assessment of the real musical impact of any artists.

So we agree that measuring chart success does not deliver the complete story, but it is certainly an important element and, at the moment, the best data we have. If there are other reasonable objective measures we'd like to know what they are.


30 Jul 2012

are u telling me PRINCE had more worldwide success than material girl record-breaking MADONNA??????

i doubt the purple one could surpass Madge in sales, impact, album, etc.. in her biggest decade, the 80s!!!!!! how could he sell more than her when she has more top 10 hits in one decade than he had in his entire career?

Yes, that's what the numbers tell us. The main reason is albums. This metric puts more emphasis on album success and Madonna's first real hit album was 1984.

The numbers would, of course, come out differently for the period 1985-1995. If you want to use a different calculation (or a different date range) then download the CSV file and see what results you get.


9 Jul 2012

Nice list; Beatles still rule

I enjoyed your list, and loved your Buddy Holly explanation; "impact" is different than pure chart performance. Also applies to The Doors and other seminal artists; but I like your "metric". You must thank god for the Beatles when developing a list like this; it makes the number one artist a simple, unassailable choice. However, it looks like Japan has surpassed the USA as the number one market for recorded music as of 2011. Good thing they love the Fab 4 too!


8 Jul 2012

singing

everybody is good at singing if they try.


4 Jul 2012

In the 80's,

prince - fourteen top ten hits (us), six top ten hits (uk), three #1 albums (us), one #1 album (uk), four #1 hits (us), and zero #1 hits (uk)....

madonna - seventeen top ten hits (us), twenty one top ten hits (uk), three #1 albums (us), three #1 albums (uk), seven #1 hits (us), and six #1 hits (uk)...

u2 - three top ten hits (us), ten top ten hits (uk), two #1 albums (us), four #1 albums (uk), two #1 hits (us), and one #1 hit (uk)...

michael jackson - thirteen top ten hits (us), fourteen top ten hits (uk), two #1 albums (us), two #1 albums (uk), seven #1 hits (us), and three #1 hits (uk)

sorry i wrote so much, but based on this information... i understand if Madonna is in front of Michael jackson, (and while I love prince i still think madonna had more success and should be #1), I don't understand how U2 is #3??? if not Michael Jackson at #3 after Prince and Madonna, why not Phill collins or george michael?

madonna - #1 prince - #2 mj - #3

u2 is way too far ahead in this chart than they're supposed to be

thanks for ur time

Your numbers are strictly US & UK, once the rest of the world is taken into account, especially Europe, U2 pull ahead of Michael Jackson because of the number albums they released.

Of course we've just picked a scoring system that we think is fair. If you download the CSV file you could try a different approach. We'd be interested to hear about any alternative that works


24 Jun 2012

Your list is based on what?? Try to do something else because you don't knowwhat you are talking about!!

Our list of sources and the way we calculate scores is very well documented here. If you want to actually suggest an alternative we'd welcome your input.


17 Jun 2012

Commenters

How is it so difficult for people to understand that this list was drawn from facts and not emotion? 'Bob Bobson should be number 1 cuz I love him and have all his albums and he was really big in Western Chile.'

Hilarious.


15 Jun 2012

Rick Astley

Rick Astley is supposed to be in that chart, his Never gonna give you up, was the umber songs of all time in europe and America and almsot all over the world.

The song "Never Gonna Give You Up" is in the chart (at number 23) and Rick Astley was the 3rd most successful act of 1987, but he didn't have nearly enough hits to make the 50 highest placed act of the 1980s.


7 Jun 2012

Old vs new

Hi, great list, I was just wondering what kind of quantities earlier artists like Billy Murray and Arthur Collins sold in, would their sales be anything in comparison with today's biggest artists like lady gaga or Katy Perry?

Sales of what exactly? If you mean sales of physical disks then no, the real kick off of sales came a different times in different markets (1955 or so in the US, a couple of years later in other countries). But then again Lady Gaga and Katy Perry sell fewer physical disks than did the artists of the 1990s (because much of their revenue comes from digital).

However for Billy Murray and Arthur Collins their revenue didn't come from records, it came from sheet music, radio performances, films and live shows. How would you compare selling a movie seat to someone in 1939 to see Judy Garland sing "Over the Rainbow" to selling a ringtone of "I Kissed a Girl" in 2008?

Also we don't know of many trustworthy sets of sales statistics anyway. It is really quite hard to know how many copies of The Beatles "Abbey Road" were ever really sold, especially when you take into account that at the time of its release it was illegal to buy it in Russia (so everyone did).

This is why we don't place much importance on absolute sales numbers, we feel that the music charts (which have been arround in some form since the 1890s and in pretty much the current form since the 1950s) are a better way to measure musical success.

Of course if you can suggest ways we can improve we are always happy to hear them.


29 May 2012

MJ

Haha. How old are you? That's obvious you are not objective and you know whatfck your list fck your sources thats all wrong michael was the best in 80's 90's and shut the fck up! ;)

Ah, another objective and constructive comment from a Michael Jackson fan.


28 May 2012

JUST MY THOUGHTS

Do you consider sales in Asia? You were talking about POPULATION in one of the post here. Asia, i think accounts for a third of the world population. And also, if you were only taking into account songs and album sales, this list is NOT totally representing the most successful artists as opposed to the title "Who were the most successful artists of each decade?".

No disrespect. Just some of my observations. Decent list, anyway.

Actually most of the time we discuss success in terms of revenue, not population. The population of China and India dwarfs that of the USA, however the revenue from those countries is a tiny proportion. Have a look at the FAQ on "Why are there so many/ so few USA based charts?".

The biggest problem is with reliable statistics, the Billboard chart has its issues, but we don't know of any data that gives even a hint of what is commonly heard in China (for example). Given the level of pirate sales of CDs across the whole of Asia (at least up to a few years ago) we suspect there is no way to even come close to knowing if Michael Jackson was more popular that some local artist in 1983, or if Madonna outsold Nirvana in India in the 1990s.

Our experience is that we hear Western music when we are in India and the Far East (China not so much, but the ex-Soviet countries certainly). But in the US and Europe we never hear Indian, Chinese or Far Eastern music.

So we agree that in terms of population our listing is unfair. We'll use any sources we feel we can trust (like the Hong-Kong gold albums, but we know that's a special case). But we feel that our current list is as good as we can get within the constraints we have.

But, BTW, we certainly welcome any suggestions for how we could improve, so thanks for the input.


25 May 2012

1990's

How was Mariah careh more successful in the 90s than oasis blur suede shovelhead spice girls backstreet boys eminem Williams elastica kylie minougue space garbage catatonia take that travis Gomez all saints kula shaker madonna blondie guns and roses stone roses bluetones james... I've yet to meet anyone that can name 1 Mariah careh album! She had a couple of Little songs that did well in local markets like the US but nothing more... My top artists - 50s elvis 60s Beatles 70's abba 80's madonna 90's oasis 2000's eminem

This is worldwide success, not UK success.

"local markets like the US" - since the US market is at least three times the size of the UK one this is an interesting phrase that tells us where you are comming from.


16 May 2012

Queen Of Kings

42 number 1 hits on the Billboard Dance Charts (Girl Gone Wild being the most recent - thanx avicii !) 38 Top Ten Hits (US- the most), 62 Top 10 UK hits. Ever since 1984 EVERY MADONNA SINGLE reached the UK Top 20 - that was, until "Miles Away"(2008) failed to crack one of the top 20 slots. Biggest Grossing Tour By A Solo Artist In history (Stick-Sticky & Sweet -- luv to say that). This, ladies and gentlemen is remarkable. Most recently she became the solo artist with the most #1 albums in the UK. You just can't make this stuff up..

....And the two most painful things for a madonna fan to hear: *deep breath* Into The Groove being a B-side to Angel in the US (becoming her biggest hit in the UK with over 800 000 singles sold) & the second being...*bows head* 6 #2 hits (more than any other artist in the US). If all those went to the peak position and "Groove" was actually released as a single we would not have been stuck at "cherishing" a thought of 19 #1's (HEY, it could have been).

(Btw Madonna won the 1990 VMA Artist of the decade award, not Michael Jackson. So why is the award suddenly named the "MJ Video Vanguard Award"? - you do the research) michael jackson I find too creepy, sorry. I know it's about the music I KNOW, but there's just something still bugging me...

Madonna is the REAL DEAL. Ladies and gentlemen, this woman may be the greatest recording artist to ever live, check wikipedia's page and you'll see "1982-present", then look around at other artists - they GONE! People telling her she's "old" she should stop making music (the same stuff whitney was told-screw that) and all of you will jump on the "I love madonna since the get-go" waggon just like yall did with MJ. (Nothing personal, just intentional :)

Madonna will continue being QUEEN.. But for now, let's just wait for MORE hits heading our way... Love this threat btw-(did my research :)


13 May 2012

The Beatles

Although Eminem is the biggest selling act of the 2000's, let us not forget that the Beatles total sales for the past 10 years places them at No 2. Not bad when you consider these sales are only based on the album '1', 'Love' and their re-released 'remastered' collection. The Beatles were the No 1 selling act of the 1960's and remain the biggest overall selling music act in history. In fact, if you were to put all of Michael Jacksons and Madonnas sales together, they still fall short of the Beatles.


28 Apr 2012

Divas

If I may add this, First Madonna is one of the most arrogant female artist... Not even MJ liked her, She think shes the best in everything, only what she can do is going naked in some magazines... <boring rant trimmed> You say only succes in the USA? You know how many people live in the USA? around the 350 million, thats almost whole Europe, Madonna is just a whore...

The population of Europe is more than 500 million. The population of the USA was estimated as 312 million in 2011. So success in Europe is just as important as success in the US.


24 Apr 2012

I am not surprsed Mariah Carey is the Most successful artist of the 90's. She sold loads and has had major success. Considering Madonna has been around a lot longer than Mariah, Mariah has made pretty amazing accomplishments and she has been a huge influence on many stars today, such as: Beyonce, Alexandra Burke, Christina Aguilera, Melanie Amaro, Leona Lewis, Kelly Rowland, Michael Buble, Justin Bieber, R Kelly, Usher. Michael Jackson has also expressed his absolute desire for Mariah Carey as have Whitney Houston, Simon Cowell,Cheryl Cole and more. She is considerd as one of the best voices on the planet.


23 Apr 2012

music question (that may not appear in the above)

I'm trying to get an answer to two questions. The first question is... whose (singer-artist-performer) first twelve albums all contained at least one top-10 hit on hot-100?

The second question is....what rapper with at least one top-40 hit on Billboard Hot 100 is named after a real drug kingpin who spent over 10yrs. in jail?

could you provide some assistance with these two...?thanks+

The obvious candidate for the first would be Elvis (or The Beatles)

We list chart hits, we have little interest in, or knowledge of, rapper's names.


14 Apr 2012

jimm382@googlemail.com

If you can't find any sources for Guinness world records why don't you buy the books on amazon so you can't get this chart sorted and I don't like mj or any of his music but even I know that bad was the second best selling album of the 80s and also why isn't adele in the chart she had massive success worldwide.

This website is dedicated to worldwide statistics. "Bad" may have been the second highest selling album of the 1980s in the UK (behind "Brothers in Arms" we would suspect) but it certainly wasn't the second in world sales (if RIAA is to be believed).

If someone claims that Thriller was the best selling album (which it was in the world, but not in the UK), they can't also claim that "Bad" was second (which it was in the UK but not in the world)

Adele's albums are too recent for the statistics to have settled down yet. The way we gather and analyse data delivers good results after about four years, so you shouldn't really trust our listings from years later than 2007 (as it explains at the top of those pages)

All data gathering techniques suffer from similar restrictions, we're just a bit more up front about explaining under which circumstances you can't trust our results.


3 Apr 2012

u2

Hi, I was wondering why U2 are #3 on the 80s chart. I like the band and all, but their hits only started coming around 1984-1985, halfway into the decade and before then they only had New Year's Day at #10 in 1983.

Since this chart is based on chart success, how did U2 beat out so many other artists with only about a handful of Top 10s?

Thanks

As it mentions in the text this ordering is by total success (not just songs), the album success has been given three times the weight of single success, so the top artists here are those with both albums and singles in the charts.

If you want to discover who we rate most highly based only on singles success you can download the CSV file (from the versions page). A quick session in a spreadsheet program reveals that based solely on singles success (as listed in version 2.1.12) the top 5 artists of the 1980s were: 1: Madonna; 2: Michael Jackson; 3: Prince; 4: Phil Collins; 5: U2.

Of course that is using our selected approach, you might want to try a different criteria, that is exactly why we make the CSV data available. If you find anything interesting we'd like to hear about it.


1 Apr 2012

Really interesting list!

I wonder if there is a way to include concert revenue / merchandise revenue as a way to further measure success. U2, for example, generated a ton of money (and publicity) through touring--and even today, they are regularly in the top 5 tours worldwide whenever they go on the road. If we look at merchandizing, it might propel a band like KISS much higher in these charts--their brand has enables them to make money in substantially more ways than just album sales. +It would even be possible to look at the revenue generated by films and music videos--The Beatles had a series of hit movies that are not measured simply in album sales, for example, and The Band's Last Waltz concert film has been highly successful in terms of sales as well.

Great work all around, I'm taking a History of Rock and Roll class, and I found looking at this list to be highly educational!

We would be interested in such a listing, but can't think of any reliable way to gather the basic data.


18 Mar 2012

Styx

I'm just curious where Styx fits in, as they are not listed at all in the top 50 for 70's or 80's. I recall hearing "first group with three consecutive triple platinum albums" or some such.

That is a good question, There are two different reasons why they don't get placed in the top 50s for the 1970s or the 1980s. First of all their peak was from 1975 to 1984, so when we look at either 1970-1979 or 1980-1989 the hits they have are split across the boundary.

One option is to download the CSV file (from the versions page) and try some analysis, lets total up scores for 1975-1984, mutiplying album scores by 3 to account for their higher value. Then we can sort by the results and we find that Styx is artist number... 59 (just after Rush).

And that leads to the second reason why they don't make the decade list, they didn't have much success outside North America.

Personally I (Steve) think this is a surprise, I think they are one of the best groups of their period and would have guessed that they "should" be in the decade list... but on this site us administrators don't get to pick, we just have to list the results that come out. Of course, as we keep saying, the listing here shows success in the charts, not how good an artist is.


8 Mar 2012

shit list

This list and the criteria is flawed from the start. To be an artist of a decade you just need to release two albums per year score a hit or two here and there and you are on the top. If you want people stop attacking the table, you should change the title from "Most successful artist of the decade" to "Artist with the most shit released and charted"

No artist managed to release two high charting albums a year for the whole 1980s, if any had they would deserve to be ranked highest (and would be top of this ranking).

Your approach seems to be to adjust the ranking criteria to make sure that the artist you want to be top arrives in the number one position. We don't think that is a good metric (to put it mildly). Your closed mindset is the opposite of the approach we have taken, we believe in listing actual verified evidence of success, without any regard of our personal tastes.

When criticism is based on verifiable evidence, or constructively suggests improvements to our sources or metrics we pay attention. When the stupid tell us what results we should have got and pepper their posts with swearing and insults we don't. We don't want to release a listing that panders to ignorant idiots.


3 Mar 2012

Shouldn't buddy holly be one of the top 5 in the 50s

Where an artist "should" be is often different from where the actual numbers place them. Buddy Holly had a very short career.

We would agree that the number of actual hits he had does not reflect his impact (and in my personal opinion the quality of his music). But on this site we process the chart numbers, we don't let anyone "adjust" the results (even us).


26 Feb 2012

Prince

Hi, nice to see Prince as #1. He deserves it.

I got a question though. A lot of websites claim Prince sold 80 million records worldwide, while others claim Prince sold 100 million records worldwide. I personally think its the latter, because Prince has been around forever, but could you clarify it the best you can?

Really appreciate it. Thanks.

(P.S. I'm the same guy who wrote the My Version of 80s List and Oh OK :)

As you will have seen elsewhere we have a lack of faith in all claimed sales numbers. We would guess that both numbers are wrong.


25 Feb 2012

BAD WAS THE SECOND BIGGEST SELLING ALBUM

I saw where you guys told someone that MJ's album BAD wasn't the second biggest selling album. During the 80's decade, it was said that BAD was the second biggest selling album right behind Thriller. Now it's not the second biggest selling album of all time, but during the 80's it was the second biggest selling album.

"Bad" was 8xPlatinum in the US in 1994. Eagles album "Eagles' Greatest Hits 1971-1975" was 29xPlatinum for an album released in 1976. The albums "Four Symbols (Led Zeppelin 4)", "The Wall" and "Rumours" were all released in the 1970s and have considerably higher overall sales than "Bad".

If you had misread the original claim and you thought that "Bad" was the second highest selling album of the 1980s then look at AC/DC's "Back In Black" released in 1980, 22xPlatinum in the US. Also "Brothers In Arms" and "Billy Joel's Greatest Hits, Volume I & Volume II" both released before "Bad" and have much higher overall sales.

These numbers are consistent across the whole world (we just used the US figures because they are easy to validate)

So sorry but the claim that "Bad" was ever the worlds second highest selling album is just wrong.


25 Feb 2012

Michael Jackson

I'm really starting to hate these Prince fans who think MJ didn't do anything... (long dissertation on Michael Jackson's genius deleted)

The one comment from a Prince fan doesn't quite yet match the volume of input from Jackson fans


16 Feb 2012

Prince

I love alot of MJ's music but I am really starting to hate these "MJ fans" they are everywhere and if their man is not #1 on every list they have aneurysms!!! Prince owned the 80s!!! get over it! he was waaay more prolific! Could play tons of instruments!! obviously had more hits in the 80s so naturally that means he made better music and he ACTUALLY MADE better music (wrote, composed and arranged all his songs) and didnt need no quincy jones to do it! Prince truly performed live, unlike mj who lip synched and just danced like a Las Vegas performer or imitator!! Prince is more talented and a waaaaaaaaaaay better musician. he invented his own musical genre (minneapolis sound) MJ invented nothing all his moves were rip offs and his # 1 song (Billie Jean) was admittedly ripped from Hall and Oates hit song "I can't go for that"

I dont hate MJ but when comparing him to my all time favorite artist MJ is getting tossed under the bus!!


15 Feb 2012

United Kingdom

Wow Mariah Carey is the second biggest selling artist of the 90's in U.K behind only madonna!

Wow... Thats realy true... But Mariah +Rules the U.S and Japan/Asia during the 90's...

Very nice thread... I like it...


15 Feb 2012

Madonna

Madona Rules the music and world...


15 Feb 2012

WORLD MUSIC AWARD & BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARD

WORLD MUSIC AWARD - State Mariah Carey is the biggest selling music artist of the 1990's ...(long rant making various unsourced assertions removed)...

Your statistic is wronged biased favor to your favorite artist, this is 100% inaccurate and its clearly shows your ignorat in music industry, you dont know calculate!

You don't know who our favourite artists are, we might be "ignorat in music industry" (we don't know what that means) but we do "know calculate".

If you can't quote reliable sources, make reasoned (and reasonable) suggestions, and avoid personal attacks please go and participate in a forum that better matches your biases.


3 Feb 2012

Madonna

The Biggest Selling female artist of all time is Madonna - doubt any female artist is ever going to beat Madonna.

Mariah has about 200 million to go to beat Madonna


3 Feb 2012

me

I think you need to more clearly articulate the name of the list ... As far as I understand it is based solely on the success in the charts and only in the United Kingdom, because if you take into account all the factors: the success of the charts, album sales, the impact and popularity, it is it is clear that Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd should be on the list

Robbie Williams Number 2 in the world in the 00's ..... you're kidding? He does not interest anyone outside of UK

Sorry, but you do not know anything about music.

The lists are indeed based solely on success in the charts, but not in the UK. As you would have seen if you had bothered to look at the FAQ page that answers "Why are there so many/ so few USA based charts?" the UK provides about 20% of the source data.

The page about the 2000s says quite clearly "the results presented here should be treated with some caution, there are other sites that focus on the more recent information, their data is probably better".

However your suggestion that Robbie Williams did not have any success outside the UK is wrong. He had number ones in Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, Holland, Switzerland and Germany. Again if you had looked at the page you would have seen those entries.


3 Feb 2012

Tom

Wow/ You really hate MJ with passion


30 Jan 2012

Mimmi

I know that Madonna and Prince had more album released in the 80s but MJs 2 albums had monstersales, Thriller with 30 million and Bad became the second bestselling album of all time, both Madonna and Prince had great sales but none of their albums sold like MJs. MJ did became the artist of that decade because of his huge album sales so i dont know, yes Madonna and Prince had more hits but MJs songs spent more at the top, either way MJ already owned that decade so none of this matters really

The purpose of this site is to inject a more objective note into these types of discussion. For example while we don't place much faith in estimates of album sales your suggestion that "Bad" was, at any point, "the second best selling album of all time" is clearly wrong.

We understand that our asking fans (any fans) to restrict their web comments to provable sources is unlikely to have much impact. if you don't like our way of estimating overall success then don't use it.


26 Jan 2012

Marie

And please, Michael Jackson was the mos successful artist of the 80's, not Prince neither Madonna ! With just his 2 best selling albums released in the 80's ,Michael surpaseed Madonna and Prince in the 80's !Wake up,people !

...and "Candle in the Wind '97" sold more copies than any other single so Elton John was the most successful artist of the 1990s


26 Jan 2012

Marie

Mariah Carey was the most successful artist of the 1990's worldwide... ...The 1998 Guiness Book of World Record ...mentions clearly that Mariah Carey is the most successful artist of the 1990's.

We doubt that the Guiness Book of World Records said any such thing. Firstly we've seen that type of claim before (but usually for different artists). Where is a source we can check?

Secondly, any claim for "success in the 1990s" made in 1998 has to be at least a bit suspect

Finally it doesn't matter anyway, we claim here that by our metrics of success she wasn't, and your opinion doesn't alter that (and of course nor indeed does ours). Extra data, a reason for rejecting existing data, or a suggestion for how to tune the metrics might change the results. Unsourced opinions won't.


24 Jan 2012

artist of 1980

Noticed that Def Leppard, Journey, John Mellencamp not represented even with monster albums in the era. Not popular elsewhere?

Indeed. Look at the artist's pages for these three artists (they all make the top 1000 artists in both album and song charts) you will see that they didn't have stunning success in the 1980s, but their continued success into later decades means that they do end up in the overall charts.


18 Jan 2012

Zeppelin & Floyd

I am somewhat surprised to find that Led Zeppelin wasn't on the 70's list. They were huge back then, along with Pink Floyd. 2 of the greatest and most well known bands of all time not even up there...

We think you have misread the list. Led Zeppelin is the 7th artist entry of the 1970s (Pink Floyd are number 8).

Of course you have to remember that Led Zeppelin decided to not release singles in the UK (which was almost 15% of the world's music market), and despite that still made number 7


15 Jan 2012

1990's

Mariah Carey followed by Janet was the best selling artist of the 1990's

...and of course that must be true because anonymous sources on the internet that don't mention where they obtained their data are never wrong


14 Jan 2012

Amazing I always thought Tom Petty Was pretty sucessful in the 1980's. Now that I think about it though I guess he never had a huge single or album. Great list and great website!


6 Jan 2012

This page is great!

While I thoroughly understand the arguments of the Michael Jackson fans (which I am also), your ranking system also makes complete sense.

Keep up the good work.


9 Dec 2011

Didn't achieve nothing

I'm not trying to start an argument I have another question. So MJ didn't achieve anything on both the U.S. and U.K. charts or is that he just had more success with the U.S. charts, then what he had with the U.K. charts.


9 Dec 2011

Artist of 1980's

I like MJ, but I'm not an obsessed fan. Guinness Book of World Records listed MJ as the Most Successful Entertainer of all time. You that they go by facts, so if he was listed as that why is he number 4 on you guys list.

We think you have misquoted, he is listed as the highest earner after his own death, but given inflation that is not too surprising. We can't find any reputable source that states Guinness have claimed he was the "Most Successful Entertainer" of all time.


19 Nov 2011

WOW!

this must have taken ages, thank you so much! +Great work! Have used it to do a rundown of songs that were being sung over the decades for my Grandmother's 90'th birthday (coming up in December)

I think they will love it!

Thank you.

That's exactly the type of use that the site was designed for, we hope your family enjoy the selection.


11 Nov 2011

Oh OK

After I posted my comment up, "My Version of the List", I realized I sounded kind of stupid and misinformed. You're right. Although Michael Jackson was very popular and Thriller is the best-selling album of all time, Prince definitely had more albums, and together, their sales probably beat MJ's by some. Prince is very well as #1, and Madonna is undoubtedly #2.

Sorry guys. I understand your list now that I've opened my mind to statistics rather than global opinion. And your list didn't say, "Most Popular Artists of Each Decade". It said "Most Successful", so... big difference...

But I was wondering... how come Prince is #5 in the 1990s? Wasn't that his harder period when his music barely went gold? I was just wondering. One more thing. I saw a list of best-selling artists worldwide, and it listed Beatles as #1, Elvis as #2, and Michael Jackson at #3. MJ has sold about 700 million, and Prince 80 million. Of course, I could be wrong, so could you explain?

Thanks.

It is a pleasure to have users with such a constructive and open attitude.

If you look at Prince's page, at the "Artist Profile" picture in the top right, you will see that he continued to have some success every year in the 1990s. Contrast that with, for example, Michael Jackson's profile you will see that he tended to release albums every two or three years (rather than every year). Also Prince's solo career was fairly "focused" between 1980 and 1998 (or so), while Jackson's started earlier and finished later.

There are two things to say about comparison with "global sales" sites. Firstly as you mentioned our goal is to list success in charts round the world, not to estimate global sales. Otherwise we'd ignore acts from the 1930s whose careers were over by the time record sales started to become important. That is exactly why we list "Most Successful" rather than "Biggest Sellers", or "Most Popular", or even "Best".

The second thing is that we don't believe that anyone really knows how many records The Beatles, Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson really sold. If there were statistics that we found even close to believable we'd use them. That is exactly why we restrict ourselves to "Most Successful in the Charts". We have never found a "global sales" site that we find convincing (of course your milage may vary).

We would claim that the listing on this site should help inform discussion about music. If this listing suggests that, for example, your 1987 retro playlist should include Rick Astley its up to you to realise that you really dislike his music and cut out his songs. If someone is claiming that The Doors were the fifth most successful group of the 1960s we provide suggestions for 20 bigger groups. If someone claims that "Eternal Flame" was a bigger hit that "Poker Face" this site provides some evidence to help with that discussion.

There are some things we would happily claim, for example that The Beatles were clearly the overall most successful act of all time. That result seems to come out whatever reasonable measure we use. We'd also happily state, for example, that Roxette were not amoung the 50 most successful musical acts of all time but they were in the top 500. But we wouldn't want to be much more precise than that, their exact position depends too much on the particular scoring method.

We are always looking for ways to improve our listing, from discovereing new source charts, tuning the scoring approach or doing extra analysis. Anywhere that we can't defend our approach or results to honest questions should be reviewed and revised (that's exactly why the version 2.0 listing has such a radically different scoring). We always welcome input from those willing to have an open mind and look forward to any other questions or suggestions you can provide.


7 Nov 2011

Can anybody tell me who mariah carey is??

Hello! I'm from Rio da Janero, Brasil and I've got tired of reading of the "fight" between mariah carey(??) and madonna. Nobody here knows her, that's why I can't understand why the comparation. And Just for the record i'm not a madonna fan, I'm a huge fan of Michael Jackson and the beatles I was just wondering who the hell is that woman, is she from the states?


14 Oct 2011

why was led zeppelin not in 1970 list

Led Zeppelin are in the 1970s list, they were the 7th highest placed artists of the decade. They released no singles in the UK during the 1970s, that was enough to ensure they didn't make the global top 5.


27 Sep 2011

Marcus

This site really sent some fans into a frenzy, but facts are facts. For anyone who wants to find out the real figures and truths about chart/sales fact then visit The United World Chart, Billboard Top 50 Hot 100 Artist of all time and the Guinness Book Of World Records.

No, Michael Jackson is not more successful then Elvis, The king is still the King in the US and Charts all over the world. The Beatles are in a category by themselves, no band comes even close to their achievements. And as far as Female Singers, the ONLY name on top is Madonna.

Even Billboard placed Madonna ahead of Elvis in their Top 50 Artist of all time, she was second only to the Beatles. In the United World Chart, as far as number one/top 10 singles she's even ahead of the Beatles. Sorry for all the fans, but Celine, Mariah, Britney, Janet are not even mentioned in the top 10 world-wide sales artist of all time. The facts are the facts, so accept them!


27 Sep 2011

My Version of 80s List

At #1 would probably be Michael Jackson. You are absolutely correct in saying he has only 2 albums out in the decade, but maybe u are forgetting that they were HUGE. After Thriller, he was the biggest icon on earth, he made girls' hearts melt, he had the hottest music... In the 1984-1985 era he was so famous for his hospital and charity and acknowledged by Ronald Reagan himself. Everyone loved him and went crazy. In the 1986 period, he was number-one Mr. Talked-About when he got paler and had rumors. And, in the late 80s, Bad was about one of the biggest decade hits, with 5 NUMBER ONE HITS, and a great new fashion. He was indisputably the biggest star of the 80s, anyone u ask will tell you. And if he was only #4, then how come the ENTIRE FRIKKIN world, from children to adults, know and cherish his name???? "Billie Jean","Thriller", "Beat It", "Bad", "Dirty Diana", "Smooth Criminal", and "Man in the Mirror" are legendary!

Prince, in my opinion, was amazing too. He was the biggest, hottest bad boy for most of the mid-80s, and really had some sparkling hits on the charts. His hair was amazing, and his driven lyrics amazed and caused controversy. "Little Red Corvette", "Let's Go Crazy", "When Doves Cry", "Raspberry Beret", "Kiss", and "Batdance" were his biggest hits in the decade, and he made girls go nuts with his revolutionary music. I really love Prince. But... on a scale of Most Popular 80s Artists, Prince would definitely rank #2 after Michael Jackson. Yeah, he had a lot of music, but hell, only the adult population have fond memories of him. And though he had about 11 #1 hits worldwide, he only had 5 in the U.S. Michael Jackson had #13 worldwide. And I think Prince's symbol-era really hurt his starpower bad.

Madonna would definitely be #2 or #3, somewhere with Prince and Jackson. She was the biggest, most beautiful woman in the 80s teenage boys had posters and girls were so inspired! she had great music and she totally was the Queen. Her many hits are still, to this day, not forgotten. If anyone were to be higher than Michael Jackson, it would be Madonna.

And where the hell is George Michael on this chart??? he was huge too for his voice and looks in the mid-to-late 80s! He was so famous!

And, concluding this, Michael Jackson had the most starpower, is recognized by the Guiness World Record Book as the Most Successful Performer Ever, and has sold copies so high that only Elvis and the Beatles shunted him to #3.

He deserves to be #1, Madonna #2, and Prince #3. ...and somehow u2 is higher than michael jackson...

A well reasoned description of your personal picks. Of course our listing only relies on chart success, not notoriety nor "fame". We don't place acts by where they "deserve to be" but by their actual success in the charts. On this site no-one gets to vote, not even us administrators.

You claim that Michael Jackson was "indisputably the biggest star of the 80s", that is clearly not correct, there are people who disagree with your opinion. Given that U2 had 8 albums that were international hits in the 1980s, and during the same period Michael Jackson had 2, there are at least grounds for discussion.

George Michael's ranking (at 48th) suffers from two facts, first many of his hits are credited to Wham! (at 34th), secondly the fact that his first success was in 1984, almost half way through the decade. If a listing of success for 1985-1995 were calculated he would, no doubt, be much higher.

If you want to try doing that analysis the CSV file (on the "Versions" page) contains all the information you would need.


21 Sep 2011

Phil Collins

Surprised no one mentioned Phil Collins on here as one of the most successful of the 1980s. I am a little shocked he doesn't land in the Top 5. Where does he land according to your data? He had 7 number one singles in the 80s (the same amount as Madonna and 3 more than Prince), and sold 24 million certified albums in the US. Where does he stand then? And just curious, but if you factored in his work with Genesis would he place as number 1? Becuase I believe the 2 combined would give him the most top 40 hits of the decade.

If you look at the list on the 1980s page you will see that using our metric we calculate he was the 7th artist of that decade.

Of course our calculations don't include his participation in Genesis


2 Sep 2011

Well Done

Ha Ha, I bet you feel like a stuck record don't you, trying to get it into peoples heads that this list is based on FACTS OF SALES and not fans fantisies. Brilliant list, thank you. I too was suprised by some of the results... But I don't dispute them. A fact is a fact whether people wish to believe it or not !!!! Unfortunately, MJ fans seem to "twist" the facts slightly to suit themselves. He was big (huge infact) for 2 out of 10 years in the 80's ..... Get over it.


27 Aug 2011

Great but wish I saw Cher+

The list is great I guess it depends on the definition of successful. Would have liked to have seen Cher. Obviously when people think of 60s they think of Beatles and when the think 80s they think Michael Jackson. But the 90s make me think Cher.

As you say it depends on the definition of success. By our calculation Cher was the 33rd highest rated artist of the 1990s

Our calculations suggest Madonna, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion were more significant. And personally I'd have picked one of those three before Cher, but obviously that's not your experience. It would be a boring world if we all agreed


20 Aug 2011

mc

no, mariah has been named the most successful and biggest selling female artist in the 90s!, she has sold 120 million albums, and over 20 million singles in the 90s alone, selling 40 million more albums and 10 million singles than madonna.

mariah is the biggest selling non asian artist in japan, selling 18 million albums there, twice as much as madonna.

"has been named", by who? We generally don't believe sales figures, especially when no source is given.

Mariah was most successful in the US, but Madonna outsold her in the rest of the world. In our opinion the balance of evidence is that Madonna had more global success in 1990s.


14 Aug 2011

nothing wrong with the list

I'm a fan of Michael Jackson but I do believe that he wasn't the biggest seller of the 80s, Madonna definetely sold more albums worldwide than Mariah Carey and Eminem was by far the most successful singer or rapper of the 00s


8 Aug 2011

Get over MJ

wow, people on here really need to stop obsessing over Michael Jackson. it has been two years since he died, and people are still angrily defending him whenever someone says he was not the best-selling artist or all-around greatest musical artist of all-time. I bet most of these assumed young defenders didn't even care about him before he died.


25 Jul 2011

Love it!!!

Amazing list. And the Beatles are my favorite band, so I'm glad to see it at the top of the 60's column. :)


3 Apr 2011

Michael Jackson

The reason I think Michaqel Jackson should be placed higher than number four for the 80s is these reasons:

- As mentioned, he won an unprecedented 8 grammy awards in one ceremony

- Despite the discredited 100 millions copies, whether it is 50 million or 100 million, it is still higher than any other album by a large margin.

- Furthermore, the album bad,is in some ways even more successful than thriller, generating 4 US number ones of one album, which was a record at the time. Furthermore, globally 9 out of the 10 original tracks were number one in one country or another.

- An arguemnt you presented was that he had no 'solo' hits in 1985. This is true. However I will argue that despite releasing less singles in the 80s than other artists, his ratio of successful singles to singles release is the highest. i.e. Prince made 6 studio albums in the 80s of which only 3 were number ones, and only one in the US/UK. Michael Jackson released 2 albums in that decade, both of which were number one and are in the list of best selling albums.

- Now i will list some artist you have labelled above Michael Jackson in the 80s and how many number one singles they achieved globally in the 80s; Prince 10 (out of 47), David Bowie 6 (out of 30), Rolling stones 3 (out of 22). Now Michael Jackson... 15 (out of 22). Feel free to challenge this information.

- I understand that Michael Jackson had a controversial private life but it often bothers me that people let this interfere with his musical success.

- If you consider many aspects of music to get your results, then I think its worth adding that Michael Jackson's Bad tour was the largest attending concert even, until that record was broken in 1993 and 1997, both by Michael Jackson again!

- Michael Jackson is also the artist to receive the most American music awards and is one of the highest awarded artists of all time and Guinness world records most successful artist of all time. Please reconsider... Thank You.

You have presented a reasoned argument with a number of interesting points. If we had a website that listed the "best" artists you're points would be valid. However on this website we use the number of entries in charts round the world as a measure of "success". We feel that this provides a measure that is more objective and less subject to individual biases (including especially our own biases).

Our goal on this page is to find ways to objectively measure how successfull each artist is. Considerations of individual award ceremonies or the success of individual albums in certain countries doesn't really cut it.

Just to clarify we don't list David Bowie or The Rolling Stones above Michael Jackson for the 1980s. In our 1980s list (based on the 1.08 data) the top four slots are 1: Prince, 2: Madonna, 3: U2, 4: Michael Jackson.

Your idea of masuring the proportion of all releases that became hits is an interesting one, we suspect that would work as an objective measure. We don't know how you'd gather a list of all songs released by every major artist in a selection of the countries of the world, but if you could do that we'd be interested to look at the results.

We have some sympathy with your claim that chart success is just one measure and, for example, live concert size might be an additional measure. However again we don't know where reliable figures can be obtained for a reasonable number of acts (we know lots of places where unreliable figures can be found for just a few acts).

So, we will continue to measure success by the number of hits in charts round the world, and by that measure Michael Jackson will continue to be below Prince for the 1980s.


14 Mar 2011

Whitney, Janet and Michael

Both these artists were huge in the 80s and most of the 90s, but I guest they didn't make the 80s list because they started out in the mid-80s.

Just curious where they ranked on the list of the 80s and 90s. Whitney probably ranked higher because she is more successful on the charts and in record sales.

PS I agree, Michael is probably the most successful artists of all time but he didn't top the 80s list because he only released 2 albums. In the years he did release an album, he was the top artists of that years. If he had released one album almost every year, then that would keep his momentum going pushing him to the top no doubt.

The rankings by our criteria are already shown here. You could try out various other comparisons using the spreadsheet of data that we provide on the versions page.

For example how about scatter plotting year v score for albums by those three artists from 1980 to 2005?

We'd be interested to see any results that provide insight


3 Mar 2011

The beatles

They are the most suuccessful artists of the 60s and i would say are the mostsuccessful artists ever. Yes jacko fans the beatles are more successful than you're boy toy


23 Feb 2011

some of the greatest rock bands like nirvana, guns and roses, bonjovi, ledzelpein, the who, black sabbath is not included in this list anywhere. also what about linkin park or metallica, it looks like this list is dominated by few particular forms of music like pop, rhythm and blues, funk. why didnt one of theses bands at least make it to the list?

This is a listing of the bands that were successful in the most charts, so it will be dominated by music that has a wide audience across many countries. As you say it is dominated by "pop".

Notice that the title of the page talks about "success" not about "quality". I'm sure we can all list artists that have been successful without ever being "good".

Speaking personally I would agree with many of the choices you list, however on this site personal opinion is ignored (even our own). We actually work quite hard to ensure that the only thing that counts is the source chart data and all personal bias is removed.

So don't use this for your personal playlists, although it might remind you of a few forgotten gems. However, if you're creating a playlist for lots of people (especially if they come from a wide variety of places) it might be a good place to start.


17 Feb 2011

Eminem

Pleased to see a rapper, especially Eminem, on this list, with such music legends :)


17 Feb 2011

wheres cher!

By our metrics she was the 33rd most successful artist of the 1990s. She just didn't have enough entries to make the top 5 in any decade.


30 Jan 2011

Ok ...yeah he only released two albulms always preffer qaulity over quanity and he had 8+ number one singles in the 80s plus did prince Madonna ect embark on a 125 million dollar world tour ?!!! NO therefore how the hell is prince more succesful than MJ ?!! I mean thriller was flying off the shelves same with bad and he was also in the victory tour so .... I don't know how you can come up with MJ being in 4th place that's just ridiculous !


13 Jan 2011

The Beatles

I think your assessment is fair and accurate. I find it amusing that MichaelJackson fans think the hype they read about him being the king of pop makes him the biggest selling artist of all time. It would appear that he has to sell a lot more records to catch up with Elvis and the Beatles. And based on the sales of his new album 'Michael' I do not think he will ever outsell the Beatles.


3 Dec 2010

WORNG

CELINE DION is the most successful artist of the 2000s

No, clearly she isn't.


24 Sep 2010

Madonna/Michael Jackson/Prince/U2/Mariah

It seems to me that people checking out this website expect to see a "Most Famous or Well Known Artist Countdown" instead of a statistically correct chart success countdowns, even if in your country people know more one artist, which makes you think he/she should be more successful than other artists don't forget there are almost 200 more countries in the world that may have a different favorite artist, which that doesn't matter anyways because what counts is how high the artists charted in all those countries.

Most of the time people don't even recognize the artist when he/she has a big hit in their country because they only listen to them on the radio, they may not have TV, even if they have TV is hard to recognize an artist more if they tremendously change their appearance, for example, Madonna tends to do so a lot. Also keep in mind that when an artist is able to have a hit in a country is because radio airplay, sales and currently digital downloads contribute in placing a single in the chart. So even though, there is no "Best Selling Singles/Albums of All Time" there are "Best Charting Singles/Albums of All Time" where you can indeed find the best charting singles and albums. Radio airplay, sales, digital downloads and also individual statistics that each country may use to contribute to a single/album placement in their popularity chart is what makes a single/album become a top 20, top ten, top 5 or a number 1.

Everyone who visits this website, please realize it is not "Sales Countdowns", "Popularity Countdowns" nor "Quantity of Awards Won by Artist Countdowns", it is "Singles and Albums Charting Success Countdowns" that are presented to you here. It is not this website's fault that Michael Jackson charted more poorly than other artists like Madonna, not only in the world, but even in the U.S.A. alone Madonna is more successful than Michael Jackson when it comes to chart success, although that doesn't take away the fact that Michael Jackson is in more tabloids, newspapers and articles because of his media invaded life.

For all of those non-believers for this website's credibility please check out The United World Chart website, which is a statistically correct (without public vote) world chart countdown website since the creation of their music charts, but they are still compiling all their charts to fill in the gaps, if you go to http://unitedworldchart.de/ you'll see what I'm talking about. If you do go to the United World Chart website make sure to click on the STATISTICS link, which you'll find in the left hand side under TRACKS, once you've clicked on STATISTICS make sure to click on ARTIST SECTION link so it'll list every single artist that has made it to the top ten in the United World Chart with a list of their respective songs that made it to the top ten or you can also go to this link http://www.mediatraffic.de/track-artists.htm to check that out as well.

If you are just looking for a statistically correct "Most Successful Artist of All Time Countdown", this website will offer it to you in three different approaches, which have been created directly from correct factual information. It is the closest to the "Most Successful Artist of All Time Countdown" and I can support that since all their sources are legitimate. To also contribute to the fact that Michael Jackson is not the best charts act you can check out The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, although keep in mind it's ONLY U.S.A. statistics, NOT World statistics, and it's only from 1958 to present, so it's not even near to this website countdowns that offer chart historical information since the 1900's, but if you want to check out The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists go to the following link http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/specials/hot100/charts/top100-artists-20.shtml

Going back to the United World Chart subject, once you get to the United World Chart's STATISTICS link and click on the ARTIST SECTION link it's easy to tell that Madonna outnumbers everyone else having the most hits so far in the United World Chart, but there are still years that have not been put out of the archives so she's still not officially the best or most successful artist of all time, although there is a big possibility for her to be, since in the U.S. she's the second best act, just after the Beatles. But please remember, that does not mean she is the most talented, nor the most loved, nor the most creative, nor the most impacting artist of all time, it just emphasizes her success in the charts around the world. It is up to every single one of us to decide who is our favorite artist, and no one can take that away from us, but let's not try to implement our fanatic beliefs in this statistically correct website, this is all about numbers, not favoritism nor opinion. Also Madonna has been around for almost 30 years, whereas the Beatles were around for about a decade. Since the last single from Michael Jackson's Thriller, Michael Jackson was absent from the music scene in 1985, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 until his death, which contributes to the fact that he has not have as much chart success as Madonna, Prince, U2 or Mariah. Since her debut in 1982, Madonna has only been absent from the music scene in 2010 so far. Since his 1978 debut, Prince has only been absent from the music scene in 2000, 2003, 2008 and 2010 so far. Since their debut in 1980, U2 has been absent from the music scene in 1986, 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2010 so far. And last, since her debut in 1990, Mariah has only been absent from the music scene in 2007. So all of those aforementioned acts certainly have less years of absence from the music scene than the late Michael Jackson.

As a last thought, PLEASE do not "attack" these people that are doing us a favor by really representing the world wide factual music charts information. They go as far back as the 1900's, what other website or book has been able to put all this information for everyone to see free of charge. So be grateful and appreciate all the facts and success of the music history that this website has to offer.


19 Sep 2010

Michael Jackson and Madonna

It seems to me that people checking out this website expect to see a "Most Famous or Well Known Artist Countdown" instead of a statistically correct chart success countdowns, even if in your country people know more one artist, which makes you think he/she should be more successful than other artists don't forget there are almost 200 more countries in the world that may have a different favorite artist, which that doesn't matter anyways because what counts is how high the artists charted in all those countries.

Most of the time people don't even recognize the artist when he/she has a big hit in their country because they only listen to them on the radio, they may not have TV, even if they have TV is hard to recognize an artist more if they tremendously change their appearance, for example, Madonna tends to do so a lot.

Everyone who visits this website, please realize it is not "Sales Countdowns", "Popularity Countdowns" nor "Quantity of Awards Won by Artist Countdowns", it is "Singles and Albums Charting Success Countdowns" that are presented to you here. It is not this website's fault that Michael Jackson charted more poorly than other artists like Madonna, not only in the world, but even in the U.S.A. alone Madonna is more successful than Michael Jackson when it comes to chart success, although that doesn't take away the fact that Michael Jackson is in more tabloids, newspapers and articles because of his media invaded life.

For all of those non-believers for this website's credibility please check out The United World Chart website, which is a statistically correct(without public vote) world chart countdown website since the creation of music charts, but they are still compiling all their charts to fill in the gaps, if you go to http://unitedworldchart.de/ you'll see what I'm talking about. If you do go to the United World Chart website make sure to click on the STATISTICS link, which you'll find in the left hand side under TRACKS, once you've clicked on STATISTICS make sure to click on ARTIST SECTION link so it'll list every single artist that has made it to the top ten in the United World Chart with a list of their respective songs that made it to the top ten or you can also go to this link http://www.mediatraffic.de/track-artists.htm to check that out as well.

If you are just looking for a statistically correct "Most Successful Artist of All Time Countdown", you will not find it here, but you will only find the "Most Successful Artist of Each Decade Countdown". For right now the closest thing to a "Most Successful Artist of All Time Countdown" would be The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, although it's ONLY U.S. statistics, NOT World statistics, but you can check it out at http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/specials/hot100/charts/top100-artists-20.shtml

Going back to the United World Chart subject, once you get to the United World Chart's STATISTICS link and click on the ARTIST SECTION link it's easy to tell that Madonna outnumbers everyone else having the most hits so far in the United World Chart, but there are still years that have not been put out of the archives so she's still not officially the best or most successful artist of all time, although there is a big possibility for her to be, since in the U.S. she's the second best act, just after the Beatles. But please remember, that does not mean she is the most talented, nor the most loved, nor the most creative, nor the most impacting artist of all time, it just emphasizes her success in the charts around the world. It is up to every single one of us to decide who is our favorite artist, and no one can take that away from us, but let's not try to implement our fanatic beliefs in this statistically correct website, this is all about numbers, not favoritism nor opinion. Also Madonna has been around for almost 30 years, whereas the Beatles were around for about a decade. Since the last single from Michael Jackson's Thriller, Michael Jackson was absent from the music scene in 1985, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 until his death, which contributes to the fact that he has not have as much chart success as Madonna, Prince, U2 or Mariah. Since her debut in 1982, Madonna has only been absent from the music scene in 2010 so far. Since his 1978 debut, Prince has only been absent from the music scene in 2000, 2003, 2008 and 2010 so far. Since their debut in 1980, U2 has been absent from the music scene in 1986, 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2010 so far. And last, since her debut in 1990, Mariah has only been absent from the music scene in 2007. So all of those aforementioned acts certainly have less years of absence from the music scene than the late Michael Jackson.

As a last thought, PLEASE do not "attack" these people that are doing us a favor by really representing the world wide factual music charts information. They go as far back as the 1900's, what other website or book has been able to put all this information for everyone to see free of charge. So be grateful and appreciate all the facts and success of the music history that this website has to offer.

Thanks for the support.

One minor correction, we have not one but three different "Most Successful Artist of All Time Countdowns". Each using a slightly different approach and, of course, coming to slightly different conclusions. We don't emphasise those pages (which is why you didn't see them), because the CSV data allows each reader to do their own version of this calculation.


15 Sep 2010

michael jackson

It seems according to you ,michael jackson achieved nothing in his life... (followed by 50 more lines of justification for why Michael Jackson's entries should be ranked higher)

I think that being classified as one of the 20 greatest artists of all time is hardly claiming that he achieved nothing.

Quoting Michael Jackson fan sites, and sites that rely on the unsupported opinions of users with such fan based names as "MJDangerous" is hardly helping your case.

However none of that matters anyway, we have an automatic process for calculating worldwide success. That says that an artist with 43 hit songs in the 1980s had more success than one with 26. It doesn't matter how much you write to say differently (or indeed what anyone's opinion including our own says) 43 is larger than 26, by any reasonable metric Madonna had more worldwide success in the 1980s than Michael Jackson.


27 Aug 2010

michael jackson

okay,i want to give a rebuttal to the mj rebuttal.first of all, over his entire career, michael jackson has sold more than prince,madonna,mariah carey,and u2.according to all records,the lowest estimate of sales of mj is 300 million,and the highest is 750 million.i think the figure of 750 million is not the correct one,because its impoosible.but taking his lowest estimated career sale of over 300 million indicates one thing only,poeple loved mj while he was there ,more than they have loved prince,madonna,u2 or mariah carey.then how come,for christs he has sold more than this list of musical legends.how come a man who has sold this many albums be degraded in this way.prince havent reached the 100 million mark in terms of album sales whie madonna,mariahand u2 have estimates ranging from 200 to 250 million albums.also he has 372 major music awards,where is prince in the picture now.i am from the indian sub continent and from a third world country.here people +make less than 50 dollars a month,but still if you have a chance,come to this region and tell them"do you know michael jackson"and they would say yes.and followed by praises and applauses.do you think princes music could get the attention of this poor people.the people in this region cant even get food for a meal,leave alone hear music.my question to you is that,can you give a reason why this millions of poor people try to buy a mj cd instead of the listed artists i have mentioned.i am a local so you cant question the verification of the question.just answer it.also,ther arent any sources in the whole world which would say mj has sold less than madona,or prince or u2 or mariah carey.insted the RIAA itself puts mj in 11th position in the list of highest selling artists in the usa with a toal sales of 69 million in his whole career.this number is more than u2,madonna,prince or mariah carey.in terms of awards mj have won 372 major awards.among them he has 23 american music awrards and 13 grammys.only u2 has got more grammys than michael jackom from that list.michael jackson has 28 top ten hits,only madonna .beatles and elvis has more.michael jackson has 13 number one hits only mariah carey has more from that list.what do you think know,where is prince and the other artists.prince is not even in the list of the singers with most top ten hits.wow i wonder how can aperson who cranked out hits everyyear throughout 1980s and the 1990s could give 28 top ten hits.madonna i believe placed with 37 top ten hits and jusstifies the statement made in the mj rebuttle,marih carey record also signifies everything said in the mj rebuttls 21 july 2010,but u2 and prince.come on mj beats them hands down.let me tell you u2 and prince is not even on thelist of artist with most hundered entries and most top forty hits,so how come if they had a hit every year in the two decades of the 80s and 90s and they still dont make the list.i am saying again madonna and mariah both have more than 25 top ten hits and more than 12 no1 singles,so taking these two in consideration its justified.also mj had 13 number ones and 28 top ten hits right,so howcome according to you he was a jerk whos album output as low and didnt give enough hits.in the early 200s mj record saales were estimated to be more than 200 to 250 million albums,he got a world music award in the year 2000 for being artist of the millineum,in addition him getting this award was facilatated by the fact that estimates aroung that time pionetd that mj sold over 250 million records.look even madonna havent reched that mark in 2010,prince is miles away,while u2 and mariah linger in the 200 million mark in 2010.even if you consider 20 years in the music business,from 1979 to 2000,mj sold 200 to 250 million albums,which is more than what maiah,or u2 or prince has ever achieved.even more mj is the most downloaded artist in the internet according to nokia novi music store.i can just go on and on and tell you i how many ways mj is atlesat better than prince mariah carey and u2.madonna is parallel to him.another thing is that,i aam good in maths and i understand how complex calculations of these record sales can show a totally diiferent picture.please RIAA,do not consider just hits,consider sales and effect and everything that makes music so wonderful.in addition,dangerous sold over 32 million,pirince has very few albums whuch sold over 20 million,and the doudle disc cd sold 20 million.prince selling 20 million +copies of his album is the most rare thing in the whole world.prince accordinr to all estimates tough i am qouting wikipedia has sold over only"88 million albums" from the 1980s +till 2010.u2 has sold over 150 million and mariah over 175 million albums.evaluate on everything and then make alist.you can use math and do anything with it to show the false,but facts are facts deal with it.leave with it.oh,however didnt michael jackson sell over hundred million albums from 1990 to 2000.since his death he has sold over 30 million and counting.please evaluate on that and think.especially the RIAA

We get it, you prefer Michael Jackson to Prince, U2 and Madonna.

This site lists success in the charts, that's all it is based on. We employ a simple calculation to combine individual chart entries that is described in detail. There are no numbers to adjust, there are no factors to estimate, everything is driven by the chart data we have. Here no one gets to vote.

Doing that calculation leads to the results shown. If you can explain how the current calculation is unfair, or you can tell us which source charts discriminate against a particular artist we will listen to what you say.

However until you do that we have to continue to conclude that Michael Jackson did not have the largest number of chart hits in the 1980s.

We are not claiming in any way that U2 is better than Michael Jackson, that has to be a personal viewpoint. We don't believe claimed sales figures, and you acknowledge that claims for Jackson's sales range from 300 to an "imposible" 750 million. We don't even believe our own rough estimates of album sales.

You ask us to "do not consider just hits", well we don't know how to measure "sales and effect and everything that makes music so wonderful".

If you think that measuring an artist's success requires a consideration of things other than entries in the music charts then set up your own site. We happen to think that our metric comes closer to reflecting real historical trends, rather than being a subjective view dictated by more recent events.


22 Aug 2010

List is incorrect in so many ways

There are artists missing and invalid sources. Please recheck your facts esp. in the year 2000

What an incredibly unhelpful message. Which artists do you think are missing? Which sources would you prefer? What facts should be checked?


21 Jul 2010

MJ rebuttal

I'm surprised at how many people have been so defensive about Michael Jackson, saying that he should have been the number 1 artist of the 80s. However, people forget that MJ only released two, yes, only two, albums in the 80s, while the other four artists, Prince, Madonna, U2 and Queen released several throughout the decade. I think Prince even released an album during every year of the 80s. so, while those other four artists were all cranking out hits for almost every year of the 80s, Michael only really had hits in '83 and '88, due to his low album output. Of course he was going to be outnumbered in the hit song department. For those who think he should have been on the 90s list, news flash, MJ released only one hit album in the early 90s before fading off the pop music map. And I remember no one cared about the double album he released in the mid or late 90s.


21 Jul 2010

Wrong

michael jackson is the most sucessful artist of the 80s thriller has sold 100 million copies was the best selling album in the world two years in a row bad sold 30 million he should also be included in the 90s for 31 million copies for dangerous and fourty million for history correct your list

You provide no source for these assertions, every one of which is at least questionable. For example Thriller sold more like 65 million copies, the claim of 100 million is completely unbelievable and not supported by any credible source.

Where we have sources we have included them, that is why "Thriller" does top our list of albums, however the fact is that Jackson had 2 major hit albums in the 1980s, while Prince had 7. Under the criteria used to assemble this list that puts Prince above Jackson.

This is a list of success in charts, and Jackson didn't have as much real success as you clearly think he did. We won't change the data to suit your opinion, indeed we won't change it to support anyone's opinion, even our own.

If you want to suggest sources that support your viewpoint we'd be happy to consider them, unsupported assertions will always be ignored.


17 May 2010

MJ was #1

By the End of the 1980's Michael Jackson had the two biggest tours of the decade (Victory Tour with the Jacksons, and The Bad Tour solo), the two biggest selling albums of the decade (Thriller sold 50 million by the end of the decade, Bad sold about 25 million by the end of the decade) (and it dosn't hurt to mention that Thriller ALONE was #1 in the US for 37 weeks), more #1 hits than any other artist for the decade (according to billboard he had 9 #1's that decade, 10 if you include We Are The World). Plus, even if Madonna had 3 albums in the Top 100, MJ's Thriller outsold ALL of Madonnas albums combined. It was MJ's decision to release fewer albums overall. And was the biggest selling artist of the 80's, with an unprecedented sale of over 110 million records during the 80's. And he was also named many times over as the Artist and Entertainer of the decade as well.

So yes, MJ was defiantly the top artist of the decade. No one has come close to his success. Just becuase other artists have more chart entries, doesn't mean they were more successful.

A number of your individual claims are either clearly wrong or, at best, questionable. However that doesn't matter, the clue is in your last sentence, the rankings at this site are a measure of chart success. Its not just that chart entries count, they are the only thing that counts, nothing else matters at all.

You may claim that this is not a good measure of an artist's greatness, that's certainly a viable viewpoint. However if you are measuring "chart success" (which is what we are measuring) then chart entries are the only thing that indicates who comes out top.

If you had a reliable set of sources for tour success, album sales and artist of the decade nominations you could set up a web site that lists how different artists measured up and do your own ranking, but you don't and you haven't (Michael Jackson fan sites don't count)

You claim that, for you, Michael Jackson is the greatest artist, we would have to agree that is clearly your opinion. If someone else thought that Rick Astley was the greatest artist of the 1980s we would have to agree that was their opinion. However, if you were to claim Michael Jackson had the most worldwide chart success of the 1980s we would disagree, and have numbers to back us up. It is up to the reader to decide how much chart success should be considered when comparing different acts against each other.


25 Apr 2010

1980

not being funny but michael jackson would be no.1 in 1980s. r u seriously saying u2 r higher than michael jackson. fuck the statitics

It seems to us that you have a choice:

Use objective metrics to measure worldwide success, in which case Michael Jackson is beaten by U2's more consistent and sustained list of hits.

Alternately express a personal opinion, in which case you are free to believe Michael Jackson was the best artist of the decade, and your opinion is just as valid as someone else who prefers Hall & Oates.

We believe in basing conclusions on actual evidence, and the evidence demonstrates that Michael Jackson was not the most successful artist of the 1980s, whatever you or any other fans claim.

If you want to be constructive you could suggest alternate ways to measure success or you could point out any of our data sources that are systematically biased against your favourite artist in some way. An unsupported, obscenity rich rant from a biased fan is not constructive and makes us less liable to take your comment seriously.


22 Apr 2010

Extended Tables

Hi there...

Is there any possiblity for you to extend the tables by decade?

Mainly since the 60's... As it is (100) don't you feel like some other hits are missing? I Know they aren't but i just miss them in the chart! :) Thanks for your great Work!

We could extend the number of entries in the decade charts, but that would make the pages always take longer to load and most users are, we think, only interested in the top few songs anyway.

However, you can, of course, work out the decade positions from our CSV file with any spreadsheet program. For example in Excel load the file, add a decade column by setting cell N2 as "=INT(D2/10)*10" then copy that cell for all the N column and sort by type, decade and score (high to low).

This is why we supply the CSV file, not only can you work out which song was number 200 of the sixties but you can try out all sorts of different ways to analyse the data. If you find anything interesting tell us about it.


21 Apr 2010

Most Successful

Thanks for your hard work, I just wonder how huge Billy Murray would have been if he lived in more recent times. According to Joel Whitburn he had 169 indivdual hits, from 1903 - 1927. Finished first on your list in 1900s as a solo artist and 3rd as a member of the Haydn Barbershop Quartet (total 62 hits). Finished 2nd in the 1910s, as part of the American Barbershop Quartet (66 hits) and 5th as a solo artist. As well as being a duet with Ada Jones (the Sonny & Cher of the 1910s) (44 hits). The official interpreter of George M.Cohan e.g. Yankee Doodle Dandy etc. and this is not his complete hit list.

His hit's featured in movies from Doris Day's On Moonlight Bay - The Titanic. So its great to see him rewarded on a list, and we can now download his hits all over again. thank you for going back to the 1900s. Just for the record, including all, he had 48 N0.1 hits, 18 as a solo, 24 with the duets and 5 with Ada Jones. Where is he on your all time list, if you add the Quartets, his duets and solo hits all together?

Thanks again from Adelaide, South Australia sixtiesdj Johnny K.

You seem to have a pretty good set of numbers about his impact yourself.

Of course there are many different ways to compare artists from the early 20th century with those of more recent times, unfortunately they all suffer from different shortcomings. As you will have seen our all time artists list he was between David Bowie and Queen, and that is without taking into account his duets and group contributions.

Given the shortage of suitable charts, especially for locations outside North America, it has to be acknowledged that the potential margin of error for any entries from before 1920 is rather large.

As you say the joy of these early lists is their potential to give us songs and artists to check out. If that leads to some great finds then fantastic. When we discover huge hits that don't match today's tastes, well I'm sure the success of "Crazy Frog" will baffle our descendants just as much.

Thank you for the encouragement


10 Apr 2010

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was undeniably the biggest and most successful artist of the 80s! Why is he at #4?? His album Thriller sold 100 million copies and become the biggest selling album of all time! He also won 8 Grammy awards in a single night. Also he released Bad in '87 which was very successful. And I think he should have been mentioned in the 90s section. This is the most ridiculously stupid list I've ever seen. It was made by someone that knows nothing about this.

No, despite your outburst, by our metrics Michael Jackson was not the most successful artist of the 1980s. While he had some years of enormous success he failed to sustain it, for example he had no solo hits in 1985.

In our lists Michael Jackson is the 9th placed artist of the 1990s, we feel that qualifies as "being mentioned".

Thriller may have been the biggest selling album of all time, however quoting the widely discredited 100 million sales claim just confirms that are not being objective in your comments.

On this site actual facts are more important than mere opinion, and by that we mean anyone's opinion including our own.

The decade rankings were calculated with data from external sources that can be easily verified and the metrics used are clearly described. The calculation is automated and cannot be "adjusted" for any reason.

If you disagree with the result you either feel that the data is in some way invalid or that the metrics are unfairly emphasising particular acts. Tell us which data is wrong or which alternate metric should be used, then we'll take your comments seriously.

Saying this is the "most ridiculously stupid list I've ever seen" just makes you sound like a petulant teenager (except of course few modern teenagers are Michael Jackson fans)


6 Mar 2010

michael jackson

see the problem is your looking at it from a points stnadard. We all knowMichael Jackson is the biggest artist of the last three decades. In a span of eight years 82-90 the man literaly became the third most popular face on earth after jesus and ronald mcdonald. He literaly holds the guiness record for having the most records! the only reason he doesnt have any more albums in the top 100 is cus he only released 2!. which at the time of 88 were the top two selling albums of all timeeee. prince literaly till this day releases an album every year. He never misses a beat. Yes Prince is a genius i am a hugeeee fan believe me. but when mike walks into a room the cameras rush to him more then prince and madona. Madonas affect in the 80s lasted but not like michael jacksons. madona invented sex in music. michael invented everythign else.

Clearly your opinion of Michael Jackson is not going to be moderated by anything as inconvenient as actual facts.


1 Jan 2010

Mariah vs. Madonna

Up to this point Madonna is still more successful around the world than she isin the U.S., and Mariah is still somewhat more successful in the U.S. than she is around the world.

Madonna continuously keeps making top ten hits even number 1's around Europe, Latin America, Canada, Australia and Asia. It's easy to prove that Madonna has had at least 2 top tens from each one of her albums in the UK, Canada, Australia and many more countries.

She also has scored at least 1 top ten from every of her albums in the U.S. except for her Celebration (2009), You Can Dance (1987), Remixed and Revisited (2004) and GHV2 (2001) albums, all of them are compilation albums and the last three didn't even had new world wide single releases made. Even her three soundtracks were able to spawn at least 1 top 10 each one. Madonna also has the most number ones and top ten's in the United World Chart, 29 top ten's and out of those 15 are number 1's and there is still more number ones and top tens to come, because United World Chart week by week keeps posting past charts.

On the other hand Mariah only has 18 top tens and out of those only 2 are number 1's in the United World Chart. Madonna managed to make her latest single Celebration to peak at No. 6 in the United World Chart where Mariah's not latest single but latest moderate successful single Obsessed peaked at No. 14. This shows how much of an impact charting in the U.S. and in the rest of the world does. This is why I respect and honor the methodologies that they used for these "countdowns".


18 Dec 2009

lol, you dont know mariah carey? words from an idiot are not taken into consideration

You know I think that user comment was maybe not quite serious. Your life would be easier if you moderated your responses a bit.

I'm surprised, most people I have met in Malaysia have a sense of humour.


14 Dec 2009

Totally true! Madonna is the most successful artist of the 90`s. I love Celine Dion, REM, and Prince, Who is Mariah Carey?


24 Nov 2009

Michael Jackson

Am I seeing something wrong? I count 4 Jackson albums in your top 100. I don't see that many from any other artist, of course I just tabbed thru quickly.

You raise an interesting point. We feel that the "standard" list is too heavily dependant on the input charts that are available. There are about 4 times as many entries for the 1980s as there are for the 1960s, so more recent music is scored too highly.

So when contrasting acts and releases across the years we feel that it is better to compensate for this modern bias. The "real list" of top albums adjusts the scores to give what we feel is a better comparison across the years. In this list Michael Jackson has an entry at number 2, his next album is at number 47.

There are some good reasons for not adopting this approach for the standard lists. The way this adjustment is made works well for acts and releases that are at the top of the list. But it is not clear that it works so well for later, less widely supported, entries. In addition the simplicity of the standard score makes the standard list more transparent. Also it could be argued that the larger number of entries after 1980 reflect the fact that more people are interested in that era, hence music from then should be over emphasised.

In the standard list Michael Jackson does have four albums in the top 100, however The Beatles, Madonna and U2 all have six. If we were to believe that this list was a good measure of success then "REM" (with two entries) would have to rate better than The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Radiohead, Dire Straits and Guns & Roses (who all have just one). We suspect there are few people that would be prepared to argue for that view.

Of course you are free to disagree with our analysis, that is why we make the standard data available in CSV form. If you have a different way to summarise the data that illustrates an alternate view we would be interested to hear from you.


11 Nov 2009

RE: mariah vs madonna

ok.. so with ur computation.. u actually weighed north america and europe equally... and in fact according to your reply they are not equal and also aside from europe and north america, there are also other large markets like Japan where 7 of mariah's 90s album amassed million/s of sales each... and all other female intl artist that follows sell less than half of Mariah's... mariah's singles are also very successful in Japan...

so i kinda doubt the quoted statement below..

"So no, sorry even if the scores are adjusted according to the size of themarket Mariah doesn't beat Madonna. We've tried a variety of different ways to look at the data and they all result in Madonna being above Mariah. Your intuition was just plain wrong. Of course this tells us that Madonna was more successful round the world in the 1990s, it does not prove that her music was in any way better."

No you're wrong we didn't weigh them equally, Europe got a weight of 9.01 and North America got 15.14 (based on the sales numbers).

So lets look at Japan. In Japan Madonna had 28 hit songs in the 1990s and Mariah had 25. Mariah's hits were slightly higher in the charts so her total score was 22.47 while Madonna's was 21.67. In other words Madonna scored 96% of Mariah's score. Now, in fact the sales of "International" music in Japan is only about 10% of the market, so Japan's factor should be 0.643, but lets be generous to Mariah and pretend that all $6.43B was "International" music.

If we add these results into the mix we get:

Madonna: 0.94*15.14 + 1*9.01 + 0.96*6.43 = 29.41 Mariah: 1*15.14 + 0.53*9.01 + 1*6.43 = 26.34

...and Madonna *still* beats Mariah.

It is possible that Mariah's albums outsold Madonna's in Japan in the 1990s. We have no reliable data that supports that, but it is possible. If the low percentage of "International" music is taken into account then Madonna could have sold absolutly nothing in Japan in the 1990s and her global total would still beat Mariah.

It doesn't matter how much you "doubt the quoted statement", it remains true even with the scores weighed by sales and with Japan included. Mariah was beaten by Madonna in the 1990s. As we said, we tried a variety of ways of looking at the data and Madonna wins every time.

The problem is that you clearly don't appreciate just how much more popular Madonna was in Europe in the 1990s.

Speaking personally (SH) I don't understand *why* she was so popular, her 1990s material doesn't sound good to me. But that's exactly the point, on this site no-one gets to vote the data determines the outcome, personal opinion doesn't have any influence. If the data didn't sometimes tell us something that is against initial expectation then we wouldn't have created the site.


16 Oct 2009

Mariah v Madonna in the 1990s

This site treats all the charts in the world equally... thats why, they comeup with Madonna no.1 and Mariah no.2.. if they would give higher regard to bigger markets like USA... Mariah wud take the top spot easily...

Your first comment is exactly right, all the charts are weighed equally in the standard calculation. If only the North American charts were counted Mariah would be the number 1, but of course that would hardly give us a reasonable view of the world's music.

You are also correct that the number of chart entries does over emphasise the European nations since each one of them contributes more entries than can be justified by their share of the world music market. This is a side effect of the fact that each European country has people who want to publish their particular national chart, while there is less incentive for the inhabitants of, for example, Wyoming to publish their own weekly state chart for the 1990s.

However those two facts don't necessarily mean that Mariah would take the top slot in any properly weighed summary, and certainly not "easily".

Since we have data immediately available for the success of songs in North America and Europe let's try a quick test with that. In North America Mariah Carey's total score for the 1990s was 84.75, Madonna's was 79.97 of course the absolute values are meaningless, but the relative difference gives us a measure of their performance, Madonna has 94% of Mariah's score.

In Europe Mariah Carey's total score for the 1990s was 90.35, Madonna's was 169.88 Mariah has 53% of Madonna's score.

According to the IFPI the biggest 10 music markets in 1999 were: USA $14.25B, Japan $6.43B, UK $2.91B, Germany $2.83B, France $1.98B, Canada $0.88B, Brazil $0.67B, Australia $0.66B, Spain $0.64B, Italy $0.64B Which gives North America $15.14B and Europe $9.01B (we'll ignore the smaller countries that would bring the Europe total to more than $14B).

If we give the top artist 1 and the lower one a proportional score and then scale by the number of billion dollars in each region Mariah gets 1*15.14 + 0.53*9.01 => 19.93 and Madonna gets 0.94*15.14 + 1*9.01 => 23.29

So no, sorry even if the scores are adjusted according to the size of the market Mariah doesn't beat Madonna. We've tried a variety of different ways to look at the data and they all result in Madonna being above Mariah. Your intuition was just plain wrong.

Of course this tells us that Madonna was more successful round the world in the 1990s, it does not prove that her music was in any way better.


5 Sep 2009

Artist of 1980.

Michael Jackson should be the most successful artist of the 1980s having produced the most successful albums of all time. He also holds a record in the Guinness Book of World Records as The Most Successful of All Time.

First of all by any reasonable criteria Michael Jackson certainly didn't produce more than one album in the all time top 10, so the when you say "albums" you should rather use the word "album".

Secondly having the most successful album of an era is just one of the measures that are used here. Michael Jackson had 2 songs in the "1980s 100 songs" list, against Madonna's 5. He had 2 albums in the "1980s 100 albums" list, against Madonna's 3.

Finally even if we agreed that Michael Jackson's position in the "top artists of the 1980s" was too low we couldn't directly do anything about it within the rules of the website. The way that "success" is measured here is clearly defined and strictly follows a mechanical process, no-one gets to "adjust" the values later whatever their opinions. Even if one of the administrators wanted to boost his rating they couldn't, the best they could do would be to change the scoring mechanism. Prince, Madonna and U2 all had more number 1s in more countries than Michael Jackson in the 1980s, that is why they end up higher.


31 Jul 2009

mariah carey is the most successful artist

i totally agreed with RIA subsmition that m c is the most successful artist of 90's. she has most highest number of sales so she deserve s to be the most successful

There are a number of issues with your assertion. First we still don't know who (or what "RIA" is). Secondly we have no evidence that she has the highest number of worldwide sales in the 1990s, we don't even know where we would find trustworthy numbers for that. Next even if she had the highest number of total sales in the 1990s that wouldn't place her top of the list, this list reflects chart success, not sales.

Finally the fact that you think she "deserves" to be top of the list is unimportant. Your opinion about a particular act has no influence, indeed our opinion about the merits of any act are also irrelevant. The final results are generated directly and automatically from the chart positions, no-one, not even the administrators get to "adjust" them.


13 Apr 2009

Artist of 1990

RIA has stated that Mariah Carey is the most successful artist of the 1990's

We don't know who the "RIA" are. If you mean the "RIAA" (The Record Industry Association of America) then of course they list success in the USA while this page lists worldwide chart success. It is easy to see how Mariah Carey can have been the most successful artist of the 1990s in the USA while Madonna had more chart success throughout the rest of the world, remember that the USA while it is the single largest music market accounts for less than 35% of the world's music revenue.