Why Michael Jackson’s Thriller Will Be #1 Forever

Toronto, ON, Canada / 102.1 the Edge

Here’s an interesting bit of analysis. No matter what happens from now until the last proton in the universe has decayed, the biggest-selling album of all time will be Thriller from Michael Jackson. It has sales numbers that will never, ever be beat. It’s all in the math. Album sales have been in a free-fall since 2000, when nearly a billion albums were sold. But then along came file-sharing and iTunes which allowed us to get just the songs we wanted without buying an entire album. Album sales are about a fifth of what they were 15 years ago. There’s more choice and fragmentation in music. There’s streaming. And Thriller came out in November 1982, exactly the same time this new thing called the “compact disc” was being introduced. The album road that wave. In other words, conditions will never again exist where a traditional album release will have a chance at selling more than the 65 million we saw with Thriller.


  1. Unless of course the purpose of an album is not to legitimize the gimmick of a new technology, but instead the technology exists to enable a good album. You really don’t have much faith in music do you?

    Initially people are enamoured with the technology. An album that can utilize the technology without focusing at all on it, but utilizing just its higher quality sound features – well that hasn’t come around yet. actually it has, you just don’t know about it yet. http://www.stacygunn.com/shop

    When the initial pseudo-sci-fi nerdy imaginings of new technology is over and a CD is just a CD – the final way to store music – now comes the real test of if an album is good.