Blog Best Sellers

Published on November 28th, 2022 | by Gerry Galipault

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Best-Selling Albums of the 21st Century

Here are the 20 top-selling albums of the 21st century, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which includes physical and digital download sales. Adele has two in the Top 5: “21” at No. 1 and “25” at No. 5, with a combined sales of 54 million copies. Linkin Park has two albums in the Top 10, and Eminem and Coldplay both have two in the Top 20.

1. “21,” Adele (XL / Columbia, 2011) – 31 million copies worldwide

Highlights: “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone Like You,” “Set Fire to the Rain,” “Rumour Has It,” “Turning Tables.” Producers: Adele, Jim Abbiss, Paul Epworth, Rick Rubin, Fraser T Smith, Ryan Tedder, Dan Wilson. Grammys: Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album.

2. “Hybrid Theory,” Linkin Park (Warner, 2000) – 27 million

Highlights: “One Step Closer,” “Crawling,” “Papercut,” “In the End.” Producer: Don Gilmore. Grammys: Best Hard Rock Performance for “Crawling.”

3. “The Eminem Show,” Eminem (Shady / Aftermath / Interscope, 2002) – 27 million

Highlights: “Without Me,” “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” “Superman,” “Sing for the Moment,” “Business.” Producers: Eminem, Dr. Dre, Jeff Bass, Mr. Porter. Grammys: Best Rap Album, Best Music Video for “Without Me.”

4. “Come Away With Me,” Norah Jones (Blue Note, 2002) – 27 million

Highlights: “Don’t Know Why,” “Feelin’ the Same Way,” “Come Away With Me,” “Turn Me On.” Producers: Arif Mardin, Jay Newland, Norah Jones, Craig Street. Grammys: Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; “Don’t Know Why” won Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

5. “25,” Adele (XL / Columbia, 2015) – 23 million

Highlights: “Hello,” “When We Were Young,” “Send My Love (To Your New Lover),” “Water Under the Bridge.” Producers: Danger Mouse, Samuel Dixon, Paul Epworth, Greg Kurstin, Max Martin, Linda Perry, Ariel Rechtshaid, Mark Ronson, Shellback, The Smeezingtons, Ryan Tedder. Grammys: Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album; “Hello” won Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance; Greg Kurstin won Producer of the Year, Non-Classical.

6. “Fallen,” Evanescence (Wind-up, 2003) – 17 million

Highlights: “Bring Me to Life,” “Going Under,” “My Immortal,” “Everybody’s Fool.” Producer: Dave Fortman. Grammys: Best Hard Rock Performance, Best New Artist.

7. “A Rush of Blood to the Head,” Coldplay (Capitol, 2002) – 17 million

Highlights: “In My Place,” “The Scientist,” “Clocks,” “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face.” Producers: Ken Nelson, Coldplay. Grammys: Best Alternative Album, Best Rock Performance; Record of the Year for “Clocks.”

8. “Let Go,” Avril Lavigne (Arista, 2002) – 16 million

Highlights: “Complicated,” “Sk8er Boi,” “I’m With You,” “Losing Grip,” “Mobile.” Producers: Curt Frasca, Clif Magness, the Matrix, Peter Zizzo.

9. “Meteora,” Linkin Park (Machine Shop / Warner, 2003) – 16 million

Highlights: “Somewhere I Belong,” “Faint,” “Numb,” “From the Inside,” “Breaking the Habit.” Producers: Don Gilmore, Linkin Park.

10. “Back to Black,” Amy Winehouse (Island, 2006) – 16 million

Highlights: “Rehab,” “Back to Black,” “You Know I’m No Good,” “Tears Dry on Their Own,” “Love Is a Losing Game.” Producers: Mark Ronson, Salaam Remi. Grammys: Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Rehab”; Best Pop Vocal Album, Best New Artist; Ronson won Producer of the Year, Non-Classical.

11. “Confessions,” Usher (Arista, 2004) – 15 million

Highlights: “Yeah!,” “Burn,” “Confessions Part II,” “My Boo,” “Caught Up.” Producers: Jermaine Dupri, Destro Music, Lil’ Jon, Rich Harrison, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Robin Thicke, Bryan-Michael Cox, Just Blaze, Dre & Vidal, Bobby Ross Avila, James “Big Jim” Wright. Grammys: Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (for “My Boo”) and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (for “Yeah!”).

12. “American Idiot,” Green Day (Reprise, 2004) – 15 million

Highlights: “American Idiot,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Holiday,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Jesus of Suburbia.” Producers: Rob Cavallo, Green Day. Grammys: Best Rock Album, Record of the Year for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

13. “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,” Bruno Mars (Atlantic, 2010) – 15 million

Highlights: “Just the Way You Are,” “Grenade,” “The Lazy Song,” “Talking to the Moon,” “Marry You.” Producers: The Smeezingtons, Needlz, Supa Dups. Grammys: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Just the Way You Are.”

14. “Laundry Service,” Shakira (Epic, 2001) – 13 million

Highlights: “Whenever, Wherever,” “Te Dejo Madrid,” “Underneath Your Clothes,” “Objection [Tango],” “Que Me Quedes Tú,” “The One.” Producers: Pablo Floresi, Javier Garza, Shakira, Lester Mendez.

15. “M!ssundaztood,” P!nk (Arista, 2001) – 13 million

Highlights: “Get the Party Started,” “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” “Just Like a Pill,” “Family Portrait.” Producers: Linda Perry, Damon Elliott, Dallas Austin, Scott Storch, Marti Frederiksen, Richie Supa.

16. “X&Y,” Coldplay (Capitol, 2005) – 13 million

Highlights: “Speed of Sound,” “Fix You,” “Talk,” “The Hardest Part.” Producers: Danton Supple, Ken Nelson, Coldplay.

17. “Curtain Call: The Hits,” Eminem (Shady / Aftermath / Interscope, 2005) – 13 million

17-track best-of, including four new songs, featuring a live version of “Stan,” which he performed with Elton John at the 43rd Grammy Awards.

18. “Songs In A Minor,” Alicia Keys (J, 2001) – 12 million

Highlights: “Fallin’,” “A Woman’s Worth,” “How Come You Don’t Call Me,” “Girlfriend.” Producers: Arden Altino, Miri Ben-Ari, Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, Jimmy Cozier, Jermaine Dupri, Kandi, Alicia Keys, Brian McKnight. Grammys: Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best R&B Song for “Fallin’,” Best New Artist, and Best R&B Album.

19. “A New Day Has Come,” Celine Dion (Epic, 2002) – 12 million

Highlights: “A New Day Has Come,” “I’m Alive,” “Goodbye’s (The Hardest Word),” “At Last.” Producers: Walter Afanasieff, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Steve Morales, Christopher Neil, Gérald de Palmas, Guy Roche, Ric Wake, et al.

20. “Stripped,” Christina Aguilera (RCA, 2002) – 12 million

Highlights: “Beautiful,” “Dirrty,” “Fighter,” “Can’t Hold Us Down,” “The Voice Within.” Producers: Christina Aguilera, Glen Ballard, Rob Hoffman, Heather Holley, Alicia Keys, Linda Perry, Steve Morales, Rockwilder, Scott Storch. Grammys: Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Beautiful.”

Vinyl of the Month Club. »

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About the Author

Gerry Galipault debuted Pause & Play online in October 1997. Since then, it has become the definitive place for CD-release dates — with a worldwide audience.



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