The Fastest Selling Albums Ever Released in the US

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Hundreds of albums have been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America – meaning that they have sold over 1 million copies. While some may have taken years to reach that milestone, other smash hit albums reached platinum or multi-platinum status (which begins at 2 million) in a matter of weeks. And nine albums have achieved the remarkable feat of selling 5 million or more (sometimes a lot more) in less than two months. (Here’s a list of the best-selling albums since 2000.)

To determine the fastest-selling albums in music history, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on certified album sales and certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America. Albums were ranked based on the number of days between release date and the date they received a 5X Multi-Platinum award from the RIAA, indicating five million certified unit sales in the United States. Only studio albums and soundtracks were considered. Greatest hits, compilation, and live albums were excluded. Supplemental data on performance on the Billboard 200 albums chart is current through August 12, 2023.

The fastest-selling album in history – Adele’s “25” – sold over 3 million copies during the first week of its release, and has sold a total of 11 million copies to date. ‘N Sync, Eminem, and the Backstreet Boys each have two albums on the list that also went platinum or multi-platinum during their first seven days of sales. Other artists who have two albums on the list include Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Limp Bizkit, Nelly, the Eagles, and Whitney Houston. But while the vast majority of the albums are pop or rap records from the ‘90s and early 2000s, the artist with the most albums represented here – three – is country musician Garth Brooks. (He accounts for some of the best selling country albums of all time.)

All but one of the fastest selling albums peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (“2001” by Dr. Dre, which stalled at No. 2) – and Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard” soundtrack spent 20 weeks in that position.

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