The approach taken to decide the greatest chart success of an album is similar to that for the greatest song. First all the scores are added up, then they are adjusted to remove any systematic bias that comes from the fact that more charts are available for recent periods. Of course albums didn't exist before 1947 so our charts only start in 1950. Notice that this list does not indicate the albums with the highest total sales (which cannot be known) but rather the albums with the most success in the charts. Once the album's adjusted scores are reviewed it is clear that some of them stand out as runaway successes. Here is the final list, the biggest album hits of all time:
The data here was calculated off-line from data version 1.8.0049. The way the scores are adjusted has been slightly refined so the order is different from our previous listings (especially for the lower numbered entries). We believe that this new ordering provides a better estimate of success.
As with all the complex calculations described on the site you can decide to try a different approach. If your analysis shows something interesting tell us about it.
Previous Comments (newest first)
21 Aug 2014
Is there a top 1000 or 3000 CSV of Album data?
I'd love to see the raw numbers for albums in the same way as they presented for the top 3000 singles. I'd like to combine the two so that album sales contribute to the ranking of singles.
Unfortunately we don't have enough album charts to divide them into the regions and get significant results (statistically)
Update: We have now added some code to deliver a listing of the top 2000 albums in CSV form. See the FAQ: "How is the site is generated?" (the "Different Approach?" section).
9 Sep 2012
I can't believe Lovesexy beat Sign O' the Times ... oh well, it was very successful worldwide even if not in the states, thanks for your list!
You'll note that on Prince's album page they are the other way round, so it depends how you calculate the result (the greatest chart list is less sensative to the source charts that are available).
13 Aug 2009
The Beatles / Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Couldn't agree more, the Beatles / "Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is where it supposed to be in the No. 1 slot. That album is responsible for all those other albums that came after. The Beatles were the pioneers, the originators, and the sounds they created changed the world. The Beatles influence goes far beyond music and it's importance will never be equalled.