The 90s brought an end to the hair bands and glam rock of the 80s with bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and some of my favorites, Counting Crows and Gin Blossoms. However, when I went through the top 20 bestselling 90s albums, none of my favorites were there. I don't know if that says something about my musical tastes or all of the people that were buying the other records. After viewing some on this list, I’ll let you be the judge.
Before I go any further, let me just say, the bestselling album of the 90s is going to surprise.
Music of the 90s List
This album was the follow-up to their successful debut Cooleyhighharmony and featured corny ballad after ballad about guys that had long ago turned in their man cards and settled down for a night of Melrose Place with their honey. Number 1 hits included "I'll Make Love to You", "End of the Road" and "On Bended Knee." But I suppose they get the last laugh because they sold 12 million albums with just this one alone, on top of their other albums during that decade.
19. Matchbox 20 - Yourself or Someone Like You (12 Million Sales)
This album was one of my favorites from that era and one of the best bands from the 90s. I still play it sometimes and the songs are just as fresh to me as when I first heard them in the late 90s. It featured "3AM", "Real world", "Long Day" and "Back to Good". However, one of the best songs on the album was one they never played on the radio. Check out "Girl like that".
One other interesting fact about the album cover. Someone asked them in an interview once who was the guy on the cover and apparently it was just some dude from some random clip art that they found somewhere. They did not even know the entire story behind the guy, and I am not sure how old the photo was, but it ended up on an album that sold 12 million copies.
Matchbox 20 - Real World
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18. Pearl Jam - Ten (12.1 Million Sold) - I was never a fan of Pearl Jam but they were one of the top rock bands of the 90s. However, I know absolutely nothing about this album. Someone liked it though because it edged out Boys II Men and Matchbox 20 for the 18th spot on the list.
17. Kenny G - Breathless (12.1 Million Sales) - What? I do not even know what to say about this one, so we will move along.
16. Forest Gump Soundtrack - Forrest Gump (12.1 Million Sales) - Can you believe the soundtrack for Forest Gump barely beat Kenny G? Anyway, the soundtrack for this movie contains a lot of classics from the 60s and 70s. Basically, it is a Greatest Hits albums from those decades with songs from Jackson Brown and lots of Motown people. Great soundtrack. Good movie.
15. Dixie Chicks - Wide Open Spaces (12.1 Million Sales) - There seemed to be a log jam in sales right around the 12 million mark during the 90s. I know jack about this group or this album. If you bought it, congratulations, go play it again.
14. Shania Twain - The Woman in Me (12.3 Million Sales) - I don't know any song on this album. Well, maybe I would if I heard some of the songs, but the names do not ring a bell. All I remember at the time she became popular was a lot girl power stuff being said by a lot of young women.
13. Celine Dion - Falling Into You (13.1 Million Sales) - I have no idea how this album sold over 13 million copies. The only song I recognize is "Because You Loved Me". And this came out before her success with the Titanic movie so someone was loving Celine.
12. Metallica - Metallica (13.3 Million Sales) - Metallica transformed itself from a hard core underground heavy-metal band to one one of the biggest bands in the decade with an intensely loyal fan base. I was not one of them. Although I do sort of like "Enter Sandman". Unfortunately, for me my most enduring memory of Metallica was Lars trying to sue all of their fans over what amounted to pennies on the dollar from illegal downloads from sites like Napster. Dude, you sold over 13 million records with just this one album. Suing your fan base. What a great marketing move! You won't read about that one in "How to Win Friends and Influence People" or Think and Grow Rich".
11. Backstreet Boys - Millennium (13.3 Million Sales) - Millennium was the follow-up to the their debut album with radio friendly tracks such as "I Want It That Way" and "Larger Than Life". Their debut album sold more copies however, so you will see them again soon. Still, over 13 million records sold is not really a let down.
10. Britney Spears - Baby One More Time (13.9 Million Sales) - There is something inappropriate about a 17 year old girl singing "Hit me baby one more time". Her debut album was a huge pop success and launched her into a career that we are still having to deal with. Well, anyway, good for her. She is not the best singer in the world but she makes the most of what she has and you cannot deny her success.
Britney Spears - One More Time
9. Garth Brooks - Ropin the Wind by Garth Brooks - (14 Million Sales) - In 1991, he introduced the world to country pop and went on to sell a lot of records and sell out a lot of concerts. Lots of radio friendly songs on this one including "Shameless" "Rodeo," "What She's Doing Now" and "The River." By the end of this tour, the only question that remained was how much fatter was he going to get.
8. Backstreet Boys- Backstreet Boys (14.1 Million Sales) - If you sell over 14 million records on your debut album, you are doing pretty well. Combine those sales with their second album and these cats sold over 27 million album in the span of about 4 years in the 90s. It featured radio friendly hits such as "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" and "As Long as You Love Me."
7. Santana- Supernatural (14.6 Million Sales) - Features a bunch of other people singing for him such as Dave Matthews, Everlast, Rob Thomas, Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean. I liked the Rob Thomas song "Smooth". Other than that, this album didn't exist in my world.
6. Garth Brooks - Double Live (15 Million Sales) - Just a live release of his biggest hits and it sold 15 million copies.
5. Garth Brooks- No Fences (16 Million Sales) - This was the album right before he became a superstar in 1990. It features "The Thunder Rolls", "Unanswered Prayers" and oh yeah "Friends in Low Places" which was sung in every bar at the time.
4. Hootie & the Blowfish- Cracked Rear View (16.1 Million Sales) -Before Darius Rucker became a huge country star, he was "Hootie". Well, not really, but this was a huge album for these guys with lots of radio friendly songs like "Let her cry", "Hold my hand" and "Time".
Now we are down to the top three best-selling albums from the 1990s.
Jagged Little Pill
3. When you sell 19 million copies of your debut album, you are entitled to be a little angry if you want, whenever you want. This was a monster album produced a lot of great 90s music. My only real problem with it is with Alanis Morissette's Ironic lyrics. She doesn't seem to know the difference between irony and just bad luck. Oh, and by the way, the guy she is reaming out in "You Oughta Know" is one of the dad's from Full House.
Alanis Morisette - You Oughta Know
The Bodyguard Soundtrack
2. The album sold 19.1 million copies just edging out Alannis Morrisette. I saw that movie again right after she died. It is kind of cheese ballish, but all of Costner's movies were. It had a lot of good music on the soundtrack though including "I have nothing", "Run to you" and the monster song that stayed at number one on the charts for about 18 weeks straight if I remember correctly.
Whitney Houston - I will always love you
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Come On Over
1. Huh? Yeah, it sold 22 million copies. Who knew? This was the follow-up to her debut album and it was huge. Between this one and her debut, she sold about 35 million records in about 5 years. No wonder she disappeared off the face of the earth after the 90s. I never would have guessed this Shania Twain "Come On Over" album was the best selling album of the decade though.
Shania Twain - That don't impress me much
No Green Day, Sound Garden or Smashing Pumpkins but instead Backstreet Boys twice, Shania twice, Garth Brooks three times.What did I miss in that decade?
My concluding thoughts are this. I cannot believe that Kenny G made the top 20 and Nirvana's Nevermind did not. How can that be?