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The Eagles Soar Past Michael Jackson’s Thriller for Best-Selling Album

It was only a few days ago when I mentioned once again that Michael Jackson’s Thriller album was the best-selling album of all time. Things can change seemingly fast, but it was a long road for The Eagles before they finally usurped the King of Pop’s number one spot.

The Eagles Dethrone Thriller as Best-Selling Album

Today is August 20th, 2018, the fateful Monday when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reported to the Associated Press that The Eagle’s 1976 Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) compilation was certified platinum 38 times over.

The Eagles Their Greatest Hits
The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)

That’s spectacular news but otherwise not newsworthy for such an old record by one of the greatest bands of all time. What made it noteworthy was the realization that Michael Jackson’s Thriller “only” went platinum 33 times.

Michael Jackson Thriller
Michael Jackson – Thriller

This is honestly quite the upset. So many of us are used to talking about Thriller in terms of it being the best ever. I guess The Eagles have the edge on their record being a greatest hits compilation. Is that even fair? I don’t know, because Thriller might as well be a greatest hits compilation, too.

What Does Going Platinum Mean?

Going platinum used to mean that a record sold a million copies. Now, the RIAA says that it will include streaming into the calculation, where 1,500 song or music video streams is equivalent to one album sale. This is for full albums.

For singles the calculations are similar but the expectations are higher. For instance, it requires 2 million sales of a single to go platinum versus half of that for a full album.

The RIAA tells us more about their other awards. Going Gold means you sold 500,000 units. Multi-Platinum counts in 1 million increments past the first million.

So an album that went 3 times platinum sold 3,000,000 units. And finally, they have their prestigious Diamond award for albums selling 10,000,000 units or more.

Some fun tidbits are that The Beatles is the most awarded act of all time, followed Garth Brooks and then Elvis. This is across their entire discographies. Elvis, for instance, has the most Gold records (117) and the most Platinum records (67). His total number of awards equals 197, including his many singles.

What Does The Future Hold for Thriller & The Eagles?

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Thriller doesn’t eventually take the crown back at some point. You know how these renaissances go for artists.

Part of the reason I say that is The Eagles Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) has had an extra 12 years of time to earn additional sales over Thriller, which was released in 1983.

Don Henly, the drummer and backing vocalist for The Eagles stated:

“We are grateful for our families, our management, our crew, the people at radio and, most of all, the loyal fans who have stuck with us through the ups and downs of 46 years. It’s been quite a ride.”

If you think this is a stroke of luck, let me tell you about the the number 3 spot on the best-selling records of all time list… that goes out to Hotel Calfornia, the 1977 album by none other than The Eagles. Hotel Calfornia is 26 times platinum.

the eagles band members
Congratulations to these fine musicians

An interesting thought to entertain is that a lot of the old record holders won’t have access to streaming at the time their record is released and popular. Will that hurt them? Perhaps not, because a lot of newcomers won’t get nearly the sales the old-timers received due to the ubiquity of streaming.

One listener will have to listen to a 10 track album 150 times to equal one sale according to the new RIAA calculations, and that’s only for a 10 track album.

It’ll be more for albums that contain as many as the 15-20 tracks that is common for records today now that we don’t deal with the restrictions of records, 8-tracks, cassettes, and compact discs.

Only time will tell if new artists can step up to the plate and knock out the home runs required to top these lists. Either that or the RIAA will change their calculations to help out the marketing within the industry…

What I do know is that this The Eagles album will get another platinum to add to the 38 today from this news spreading around. I’m about to spin it myself for old time’s sake. All kinds of records are being broke these days, like Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize win. It’s an exciting time in the music industry!