Bestselling album from the year you graduated high school
Bestselling album from the year you graduated high school
Music's superpower is its ability to evoke memories—good and bad—and its expressive qualities in conjuring a range of emotions and actions at the drop of a melody. That's not to mention music's role as both a rite of passage and a way of life for millions—if not billions—of people. It's no wonder 89% of U.S. baby boomers streamed music weekly in 2021. For some people, music is compelling enough to compile a soundtrack to their life without thinking too hard about it.
Naturally, a great deal of those soundtrack-type songs or albums are built around one's teenage years, when music's ability to capture an emotional state seems to be at its most profound. By extension, the songs and albums themselves often become snapshots of the era in which they were released, encompassing everything from cultural trends to dance moves to fashion statements. Driving that notion home are the album's creators—the musicians and producers—many of whom reflect or even dictate the norms of their respective times.
Do you remember the top album from the year you graduated high school? Stacker analyzed Billboard data to determine just that, looking at the bestselling album from every year going all the way back to 1956. Sales data is included only from 1992 onward when Nielsen's SoundScan began gathering computerized figures.
Starting in chronological order from 1956 to 2021, read on to learn more about the bestselling album from the year you graduated high school.
1956: 'Calypso' by Harry Belafonte
Bolstered by the hit song "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)," Harry Belafonte's "Calypso" is as catchy today as it was upon its 1956 debut. Drawing inspiration from calypso and Jamaican music traditions, the album made Belafonte the first artist ever to sell more than 1 million copies of an album.
1957: 'My Fair Lady' soundtrack by the original Broadway cast
Before it was a popular film starring Audrey Hepburn, "My Fair Lady" was a wildly popular musical by Frederick Loewe with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. The play was the longest-running musical in Broadway history at the time.
1958: 'My Fair Lady' soundtrack by the original Broadway cast
People loved the "My Fair Lady" soundtrack so much, it ranked as the bestselling album for two years in a row. The album earned Columbia Records $5 million in one year—an unprecedented amount at the time—and sold more than five million copies over the course of 10 years.
1959: 'Music from Peter Gunn' by Henry Mancini
Among the most iconic and popular scores from legendary composer Henry Mancini was the "Music from Peter Gunn" album, theme music for the TV series "Peter Gunn." Mancini later claimed the jazzy score provided him with his big break and "put music on everybody's mind as far as television was concerned."
1960: 'The Sound of Music' soundtrack by the original Broadway cast
Two names synonymous with the best of Broadway are Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote the songs for "The Sound of Music," a smash hit later adapted into an award-winning film. Originally, producer Richard Halliday envisioned the show as a traditional play (sprinkled with the occasional Austrian folk ditty) and he approached Rodgers and Hammerstein to see if they would contribute one song. In response, they suggested making the entire play a musical and soon got to work turning it into one of the most beloved musicals of all time.
1961: 'Camelot' soundtrack by the original Broadway cast
Adapted from the King Arthur tale "The Once and Future King" by T.H. White, Broadway musical "Camelot" featured music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, the same talented duo behind "My Fair Lady." Composing the music was so stressful on Loewe that he left the musical theater business for more than a decade upon completion. While the play itself was considered somewhat mediocre by Broadway standards, the soundtrack album was a smash hit.
1962: 'West Side Story' soundtrack by various artists
Composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the "West Side Story" film soundtrack upped the production ante on the already-popular Broadway cast recording to wildly successful results. Not only is this album one of the bestselling soundtracks of all time, but it held the #1 spot on the Billboard main album chart for a record-breaking 54 weeks in a row. It also won the Grammy for Best Soundtrack Album – Original Cast and went triple-platinum. As for the film itself, it opened to substantial acclaim and won no fewer than 10 Academy Awards.
1963: 'West Side Story' soundtrack by various artists
After famously spending more than a year at the top of the Billboard charts, it's no surprise the "West Side Story" soundtrack became the bestselling album two years in a row. Many listeners may not realize that many of the vocals weren't recorded by the film's actors and actresses. Instead, producers brought in professional singers including Marni Nixon, who recorded the songs dubbed to Natalie Wood's performance.
1964: 'Hello, Dolly!' soundtrack by the original Broadway cast
While many adolescents in 1964 were in the throes of Beatlemania, young rock 'n' roll didn't diminish album sales of Broadway and film soundtracks. For proof, look no further than the resounding success of the "Hello, Dolly!" Broadway cast recording. With music and lyrics by Jerry Sherman, the play is sometimes pointed to as the "Hamilton" of its time, namely due to its status as the hottest ticket in town for a number of years in a row.
1965: 'Mary Poppins' soundtrack by various artists
Composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, and featuring performances from a number of the film's stars, the "Mary Poppins" soundtrack won two Grammys for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or TV Show and Best Recording for Children. Likewise, the movie took home Academy Awards for Best Original Song for "Chim Chim Cher-ee" and Best Original Score, while also winning in non-music-related categories.
1966: 'Whipped Cream & Other Delights' by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
Featuring iconic cover art and a range of legendary tracks, "Whipped Cream & Other Delights" from Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass debuted in 1965. The record won three Grammys and became the fourth bestselling album of the 1960s, trailing behind releases from Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and The Beatles.
1967: 'More of The Monkees' by The Monkees
It doesn't take a history lesson to know that the 1960s represented a seismic cultural shift in Western society, one largely fueled by younger audiences. While that shift was years in the making, 1967 might be considered ground zero in signifying a point of no return. Does all this sound like a lead-up to "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by The Beatles? It sure does, but it was "More of The Monkees" that sold the most copies in 1967. The album came from The Monkees, a Beatles-esque, made-for-TV band that surprised audiences by releasing first-rate songs.
1968: "Are You Experienced?" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Jimi Hendrix Experience unleashed "Are You Experienced?" in 1967 and inarguably changed music forever. Garnering inspiration from a slew of genres, the album features hit songs like "Purple Haze" and "Hey Joe," which remain as vital today as they did more than a half-century ago. And while those two songs didn't necessarily soar up the U.S. charts, they did receive steady airplay on underground radio, helping fuel the album's success. Along similar lines, "Are You Experienced?" never reached #1 on the Billboard charts, despite being the bestselling album of 1968.
1969: 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' by Iron Butterfly
There are a number of myths surrounding the title of Iron Butterfly's one hit song, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," which clocks in at more than 17 minutes on the bestselling album of the same name. According to most sources, however, the title came about after the band's vocalist and keyboardist, Doug Ingle, slurred the words to "In the Garden of Eden" during a soundcheck, apparently while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Meanwhile, the engineer was recording, and apparently, he liked what he heard. Audiences would end up liking it, too.
1970: 'Bridge over Troubled Water' by Simon and Garfunkel
Legendary folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel released their fifth album, "Bridge over Troubled Water," the same year they broke up. The album foreshadowed as much, featuring a number of songs where the two vocalists don't sing together. The album shot to #1 on the Billboard charts and won two Grammys. Along similar lines, the title song sold millions of copies and won its own Grammy for Song of the Year.
1971: 'Jesus Christ Superstar' soundtrack by various artists
Legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber was just 21 when he penned the music for "Jesus Christ Superstar," a hit concept album that spawned a Broadway play and hit film. For the album, Webber and lyricist Tim Rice enlisted an array of reputable talent, then released the work with some impressive packaging to drive home its rock-opera vibe. While the album was briefly banned by the BBC in England as sacrilegious, it was a surprise hit all across America, including among many Christian leaders.
1972: 'Harvest' by Neil Young
Featuring hits like "Heart of Gold" and "Old Man," Neil Young's "Harvest" endures as among the artist's greatest work. Twenty years later, Young released the follow-up "Harvest Moon," which featured a number of the same musicians. "Heart of Gold," off "Harvest," remains Young's only #1 single in the U.S.
1973: 'The World Is a Ghetto' by War
The fifth album from War—and the band's third without Eric Burdon of The Animals— rocketed to success on the back of its lead song, "The Cisco Kid." Incorporating a variety of influences, the album explores jazz, funk, rock, soul, and blues to brilliant effect. That's joined by top-notch production and socially relevant themes still poignant today.
1974: 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' by Elton John
Considered by many to be Elton John's quintessential masterpiece, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is a sprawling double album, replete with a number of his greatest songs including "Benny and the Jets," "Candle in the Wind," and the title track. Elton John and writing partner Bernie Taupin originally went to Jamaica to make the album but found the studio in such a state of disrepair that they ended up recording in France instead. The album spent eight weeks at the #1 spot on the Billboard charts and was certified eight-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
1975: 'Elton John's Greatest Hits' by Elton John
Fresh off the wild success of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," Elton John released a greatest hits compilation in 1974 that's likely to still be found in quite a few record and CD collections across the country. The album sold more than 16 million copies in the U.S. alone.
1976: 'Frampton Comes Alive' by Peter Frampton
If you were in high school in 1976, you probably have vivid memories of "Frampton Comes Alive!" spinning on the turntable ad nauseam. With its squelching guitar lines and hit songs like "Show Me the Way" and "Baby I Love Your Way," the album would go on to sell an estimated 11 million copies worldwide, 6 million sold in 1976 alone. It's no surprise that this was the bestselling live rock album in history until 1998.
1977: 'Rumours' by Fleetwood Mac
An aural document of Fleetwood Mac's perennial internal struggles, "Rumours" landed in 1977 and hasn't lost steam since. Proving that a little behind-the-scenes friction can indeed pay off in spades, the impeccable album has sold more than 40 million units worldwide.
1978: 'Saturday Night Fever' soundtrack by the Bee Gees
Released at the height of disco mania, "Saturday Night Fever" was both a wildly popular film and seminal bestselling album. The soundtrack features hit music from the Bee Gees, Kool & the Gang, and The Trammps, among others.
1979: '52nd Street' by Billy Joel
Billy Joel's first #1 album, "52nd Street," finds the piano man incorporating jazz influences to develop a new swing sound. Featured on the album is the hit song "My Life," which would become the theme music for a TV show called "Bosom Buddies," starring Tom Hanks. Produced by Phil Ramone, the album won both Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.
1980: 'The Wall' by Pink Floyd
Motivated by feelings of alienation and even hostility between himself and his audience, Pink Floyd bassist and lead songwriter Roger Waters created "The Wall," a stunning concept album that grapples with this internal struggle. The band was famously falling apart during the recording, with keyboardist Rick Wright getting the boot before the album was completed— though he was subsequently hired as a session musician for the tour. "The Wall" stands as one of the bestselling albums of all time, while the accompanying 1982 film remains a cult classic to this day.
1981: 'Hi Infidelity' by REO Speedwagon
Adapting to '80s production standards with exceptional panache, REO Speedwagon released "Hi Infidelity," to massive success. Bolstered by hits like "Keep On Loving You," and "Take It On the Run," the album sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone.
1982: 'Asia' by Asia
Nothing screams early '80s prog rock quite like Asia's self-titled debut, which comes complete with overproduced vocals, campy—albeit well-executed—instrumentals, and a writhing sea dragon on the album cover. The self-appointed supergroup plowed into the hearts of teenagers everywhere by way of songs like "Only Time Will Tell" and "Heat of the Moment," hitting the #1 spot on the Billboard charts as a result.
1983: 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson
"Thriller" did more than just shatter records—it transformed rock 'n' roll and pop as we understand the genres today. Every track is a veritable hit, including timeless songs like "Beat It," "Billie Jean," and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."
1984: 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson
"Thriller" managed to be the bestselling album of the year for two years in a row at a time when the competition was fierce, selling more than 105 million copies worldwide to date according to Jackson's estate. It was also the first album to achieve 30-time, multi-Platinum Recording Industry Association of America Certification.
1985: 'Born in the U.S.A.' by Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen was already the stuff of legends by the time he released "Born in the U.S.A." However, the album launched him into the uppermost echelon of talent, where only the most widely recognized artists reside. The album hit #1 on the Billboard chart and then spent 84 weeks in the top 10, with seven of its 12 songs cracking the top 10 on the Billboard singles chart. Perhaps some of that success was due to a diverse audience—including President Ronald Reagan, at the time—mistaking the title song for a patriotic rally cry when it was, in fact, a bitter critique of America.
1986:' Whitney Houston' by Whitney Houston
With a seemingly indestructible vibrato at her disposal, Whitney Houston belted her way through a self-titled album that sold in massive quantities and launched her epic career into stardom. Not counting "The Bodyguard Soundtrack," which consists of performances by Houston as well as other artists, "Whitney Houston" remained the artist's bestselling effort nationally and internationally, with more than 30 million units sold.
1987: 'Slippery When Wet' by Bon Jovi
Despite the glam-hair aesthetic and heavy guitar riffing, Bon Jovi stood out from the hair-metal bands of the day in a number of ways. Dig just beneath the slick surface of "Slippery When Wet" and you'll find mainstream hits like "Livin' on a Prayer" or "Wanted Dead or Alive," which eschew the overt sexual swagger of L.A.'s Sunset Strip in favor of something slightly deeper. It's no wonder the band has enjoyed a longer and more prosperous career than most of its counterparts, much of that success originating with this massively popular album.
1988: 'Faith' by George Michael
Already synonymous with hit songs like "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," singer George Michael proved he was far more than a synth-pop star by unleashing "Faith," his solo debut. It spent six non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart and won the Grammy for Album of the Year. Somewhat overwhelmed by the album's reception—not to mention his newfound status as a bona fide sex symbol—Michael quickly tried to distance himself from the work.
1989: 'Don't Be Cruel' by Bobby Brown
The second studio album from former New Edition member Bobby Brown, "Don't Be Cruel" sees the artist taking a no-frills approach to his newly adopted persona as an adult force to be reckoned with. Featuring five singles—each of which cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100—the album ended up going eight-times platinum.
1990: 'Rhythm Nation 1814' by Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson's fourth album was different than anything the pop and R&B singer had ever released before. Taking inspiration from the current events and issues unfolding before her, Jackson packed her record with social commentary about racism, gun violence, sexuality, and poverty in addition to the romantic ballads fans and producers expected from her. As a result, seven of the singles from "Rhythm Nation" reached the ranks of the top five in the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1989 and 1991.
1991: 'Mariah Carey' by Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey, flaunted her five-octave vocal range on her award-winning debut. Featuring four hit singles, the album has sold more than 5 million copies. Of course, it was just the beginning of Carey's extraordinary career, which has included numerous bestselling albums, sold-out concerts, movie appearances, and a short-lived gig as a judge on "American Idol."
1992: 'Some Gave All' by Billy Ray Cyrus
- Sales: 4,700,000
The debut album "Some Gave All" from Billy Ray Cyrus rocketed to #1 on the back of its breakout single, "Achy Breaky Heart." Indeed, you didn't need to be a country fan in the early 1990s to know the lyrics and adjoining dance moves to Cyrus' hit song, which was ubiquitous at "supervised dances" across the country.
1993: 'The Bodyguard' soundtrack by Whitney Houston
- Sales: 5,460,000
While Whitney Houston only appears on the first half of "The Bodyguard" soundtrack, the album delivers three of her biggest post-'80s hits. Among them is "I Will Always Love You"—written by Dolly Parton—which won two Grammy Awards, and was on such heavy rotation that MTV might as well have dedicated a separate channel to it. As a result of that song and two others, the album spent 20 weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts and sold 45 million copies. The film, which starred Houston and actor Kevin Costner, is basically a footnote.
1994: 'The Lion King' soundtrack by Elton John
- Sales: 4,934,000
After floundering somewhat in the 1980s, Walt Disney Studios launched a major comeback that arguably peaked in 1994 with "The Lion King." Handling the songwriting duties were Elton John and Tim Rice, while seasoned composer Hans Zimmer provided the score. The film became as cherished for its music as for its engaging story, with songs such as "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" achieving steady airplay on mainstream radio and nabbing Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.
1995: 'Cracked Rear View' by Hootie and the Blowfish
- Sales: 7,020,000
"Cracked Rear View" was the debut album from Hootie & the Blowfish featuring five hit singles including "Let Her Cry," which won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance. On the heels of its success, the band slowly dwindled into obscurity. Then, in 2008, frontman Darius Rucker emerged as a country star with the hit solo album "Learn to Live."
1996: 'Jagged Little Pill' by Alanis Morissette
- Sales: 7,380,000
In 1995, American audiences were introduced to Canadian singer Alanis Morissette by way of her third studio album, "Jagged Little Pill," which took a refreshingly candid approach toward relationships. Nowhere was that approach more evident than on the album's lead single, "You Oughta Know," in which Morissette calls out a former lover for his indiscretions. According to legend, the song is about actor Dave Coulier of "Full House" (and later "Fuller House"), though that claim has never been verified.
1997: 'Spice' by Spice Girls
- Sales: 5,302,000
The British girl group Spice Girls burst onto the scene with "Wannabe," the lead single from the debut album "Spice." The group dominated airwaves and TV screens for the next few years before quietly fading (mostly) away.
1998: 'Titanic' soundtrack by James Horner
- Sales: 9,338,000
As the biggest movie of its time, "Titanic" delivered epic scenes and music alike. Accordingly, the film's soundtrack is one of just seven soundtracks to receive Diamond certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. That's largely thanks to Celine Dion's rendition of "My Heart Will Go On," which director James Cameron was initially reluctant to include. As legend has it, Dion nailed the song on her first take.
1999: 'Millennium' by Backstreet Boys
- Sales: 9,446,000
In the late 1990s, two boy bands reigned supreme; one of those bands was the Backstreet Boys, and their third album, "Millennium," was 1999's bestseller. Included on the album is the hit song "I Want It That Way," which earned a major following, despite the fact that the lyrics make no sense.
2000: 'No Strings Attached' by NSYNC
- Sales: 9,936,000
Speaking of the world's biggest boy bands, it doesn't get any bigger than NSYNC, which featured a young Justin Timberlake. Not a group to be upstaged by the Backstreet Boys, the group's third studio album "No Strings Attached" was released to massive fanfare. This was also the second bestselling album of the 21st century, bested only by a Beatles compilation.
2001: 'Hybrid Theory" by Linkin Park
- Sales: 4,813,000
True to its name, Linkin Park's "Hybrid Theory" blends electronic music, hip-hop, and heavy metal. While the group wasn't the first to bridge multiple genres, Linkin Park did carve out its own unique aesthetic and sensibility in the process, becoming nu-metal pioneers. While recording the album, the band had to fight tooth and nail against the record label, which suggested bringing in a guest vocalist on certain tracks. Sticking to their guns, bandmates refused and instead made the debut album they wanted to make, which became the biggest-selling debut of the 21st century. Things came crashing to a halt after the untimely death of lead singer Chester Bennington in 2017.
2002: 'The Eminem Show' by Eminem
- Sales: 7,608,000
Detroit native rapper Eminem was on top of the world by 2002 when he released his fourth album "The Eminem Show." As opposed to his previous two records, this one was only partly produced by hip-hop legend Dr. Dre, with some tracks produced by the artist himself. Consequently, the album lacked the same level of consistency and acclaim as Eminem's first two, though it still yielded tons of great songs and sold millions of units.
2003: 'Get Rich or Die Tryin'' by 50 Cent
- Sales: 6,536,000
Still riding high off his success with Eminem, acclaimed producer Dr. Dre turned his attention to an ambitious rapper who went by the name of Curtis Jackson, better known as 50 Cent. The result was "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," which included hit tracks like "In Da Club" and "21 Questions." Striving for street cred, 50 Cent and company used actual guns to sample gunshots on the song "Heat."
2004: 'Confessions' by Usher
- Sales: 7,979,000
By 2004, music piracy was in full swing, especially among high schoolers. But, that didn't stop Usher's "Confessions" from selling nearly 8 million copies in the U.S. The album's most popular song "Yeah!" almost didn't make the cut.
2005: 'The Emancipation of Mimi' by Mariah Carey
- Sales: 4,968,606
Fifteen years after her mega-selling debut, Mariah Carey released "The Emancipation of Mimi," which saw the popular singer collaborating with the hottest names in the game, propelling herself out of a creative slump. In addition to selling millions of copies, the album took home three Grammy Awards, including Best Contemporary R&B Album.
2006: 'High School Musical' soundtrack by various artists
- Sales: 3,719,000
By the year 2006, the music industry was in a state of volatile transition, with physical album sales continuing to dwindle and numerous labels struggling to adapt to new technologies. Reflecting as much, the year's bestselling album, "High School Musical," sold fewer copies than the bestselling album from any previous year during the SoundScan era. Of course, it could have been much worse for the soundtrack, which only sold 6,000 copies in its first week. Meanwhile, the movie was a cultural phenomenon and launched a franchise that raked in roughly $1 billion dollars for Disney.
2007: 'Noël' by Josh Groban
- Sales: 3,699,000
The Christmas album is a long-standing tradition among famous crooners, and by 2007, Josh Groban was most definitely a famous crooner. That brings us to "Noël," his fourth studio album, which includes covers of holiday classics such as "Silent Night" and "The Little Drummer Boy." Groban released a deluxe edition in 2017.
2008: 'Tha Carter III' by Lil Wayne
After releasing an endless stream of mixtapes and earning his keep in the underground, rapper Lil Wayne found himself at the top of the hip-hop world by 2008. That made it the perfect time to release "Tha Carter III," which famously sold 1 million copies in a single week. Not only did the work win Best Rap Album at the Grammys, but its most popular single, "Lollipop," won Best Rap Song.
2009: 'Fearless' by Taylor Swift
- Sales: 3,217,000
Taylor Swift is such a ubiquitous force in the pop world these days, it's almost easy to forget she began her career as a successful country singer, releasing albums such as "Fearless." The album finds Swift in a typical self-reflective mood, exploring personal relationships while name-dropping various people in her life. The album spent 11 weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts, the longest run since 1999–2000.
2010: 'Recovery' by Eminem
- Sales: 3,415,000
Never one to repress his feelings or struggles, Eminem let it all out on "Recovery," his seventh album, in which the famous rapper talks candidly about addiction, depression, desire, and everything else he was struggling with. As usual, the catharsis paid off, as this was not only the bestselling album of 2010, but the first album in history to sell more than 1 million digital copies.
2011: '21' by Adele
- Sales: 5,824,000
An album that seemed to almost single-handedly lift the record industry out of its perennial slump, Adele's "21" features hit songs including "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You." Between those songs and the album itself, Adele took home a whopping six Grammy Awards in 2011.
2012: '21' by Adele
- Sales: 4,410,000
Adele's "21" hot streak continued into 2012, with considerable sales to show for it. In fact, Adele stayed on the charts for so long that she broke a record for female artists previously held by Madonna's "Immaculate Collection." Eventually, Adele's most iconic album sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
2013: 'The 20/20 Experience' by Justin Timberlake
- Sales: 2,430,000
By 2013, Justin Timberlake had come a long way since his NSYNC days, earning accolades for solo work and a handful of big-screen performances. That was the year he released "The 20/20 Experience," his first album since 2006's "FutureSex/LoveSounds." As on the previous effort, this one sees hip-hop legend Timbaland handling the main production duties, and the music remains experimental and thoroughly propulsive.
2014: '1989' by Taylor Swift
- Sales: 3,661,000
Taylor Swift's conversion from country superstar to a full-blown pop idol was complete by "1989," which yielded three #1 singles and sold more than 1 million copies in its first week. Named for the year Swift was born, the album finds her once again in an autobiographical mood as she dishes on her relationships against a synth-heavy, '80s-inspired backdrop. Swift claimed the films of John Hughes served as a major influence while she was making the album.
2015: '25' by Adele
- Sales: 8,008,000
When she was only 21, Adele blew the music world's collective mind with "21." At age 25, she released "25," and fans went justifiably hog-wild. The album was such an instant smash that it became the bestseller of 2015 in its first week, outselling every other record on the Billboard 100 combined.
2016: 'Views' by Drake
- Sales: 4,140,000
To make sure he didn't disappoint fans with his 2016 album "Views," Drake reportedly enlisted help from a small army of producers, including Kanye West. In spite of all that effort, reviews were somewhat tepid—not that it stopped fans from buying the album in droves.
2017: '÷' by Ed Sheeran
- Sales: 2,764,000
Ed Sheeran "÷" (or "Divide") took 2017 by storm and maintained momentum well into 2018, largely fueled by songs such as "Castle on the Hill" and "Perfect," the former of which broke a record after being in the Billboard Top 10 for 33 weeks.
2018: 'Scorpion' by Drake
- Sales: 3,905,000
Drake's fifth studio album, "Scorpion," went platinum the day of its release in 2018. A double album, the A-side featured rap tracks like "God's Plan," "I'm Upset," and "Mob Ties," while the B-side contains more R&B/pop tunes like "In My Feelings" and "Nice for What." All told, the album spent five weeks in the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart and was the most-streamed album of the year.
2019: 'Hollywood's Bleeding' by Post Malone
- Sales: 3,001,000
Post Malone's third album, "Hollywood's Bleeding," includes guest turns from many major names, including Future, Ozzy Osbourne, Travis Scott, Meek Mill, Halsey, DaBaby, SZA, and Swae Lee. Three of the pop album's singles, "Wow," "Goodbyes," and "Circles," broke the top three spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Additionally, the album boasts the song "Sunflower," which features Swae Lee, and appeared in the "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" film and on the accompanying soundtrack.
2020: 'My Turn' by Lil Baby
- Sales: 2,632,000
Atlanta rapper Lil Baby's sophomore effort was also his first #1 album in the U.S. The artist didn't start rapping until 2016—a fact that some critics felt showed in what they deemed Lil Baby's flat storytelling.
2021: 'Dangerous: The Double Album' by Morgan Wallen
- Sales: 3,226,000
Morgan Wallen's sophomore album spent more than 60 weeks on Billboard's top 10 and hit a milestone with Apple Music, landing on the No. 1 spot on their Overall Albums charts in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. This success was tainted by a TMZ video that surfaced in February 2021 showing Wallen using a racial slur while out with friends. The country artist stated he was in a drunken environment at the time; he has since donated $500,000 to Black organizations and even checked himself into rehab for 30 days. Wallen's fans seemed to dismiss his behavior, and by the end of 2021, his music skyrocketed on the charts.