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The Best-Selling Albums Since 2000

Which of your favorite modern-day classics made the list?

Songwriters Hall Of Fame 49th Annual Induction And Awards Dinner - Backstage
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As soon as the calendar rolled over to the year 2000, music sales plunged like the giant ball hanging over Times Square. In 1999, music sales hit an all-time high, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and it’s been downhill from there. When we put together our list of the best-selling albums in history, not a single record released since 2000 cracked the top 25.

Despite the fact that people haven’t been buying albums in the 21st century like they did during the 20th century, there are still some artists who’ve managed to buck the trend and put together staggering sales figures. Here’s a look at the best-selling albums in America that were released since 2000, according to certification data from the RIAA.

25. Taylor Swift — ‘Taylor Swift’ (2006)


Sales: 7 Million Units

If there was one musician you probably guessed would be on this list, Taylor Swift might have been it. She was a hit with listeners from the start, with her 2006 debut record cracking the list of the best-selling albums of the 21st century. The album announced Swift, who was just 16 years old at the time, as a major new singer-songwriter in country music. She wrote or co-wrote all 11 songs on the record, including smash hits like “Our Song” and “Should’ve Said No.” Many artists would call an album certified as seven-times platinum their biggest success but this isn’t Swift’s last appearance on this list.

24. Avril Lavigne — ‘Let Go’ (2002)


Sales: 7 Million Units

If you were a teen in the early 2000s and liked to at least pretend to be edgy, you probably had a copy of Avril Lavigne’s debut record from 2002, “Let Go.” Based on the massive sales this album did, you were far from alone in feeling that way. Thanks to hits like “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi,” which are in no way embarrassing to crank up as a fully grown adult in 2019, the Canadian pop-punk princess became a huge star of the new millennium. Lavigne co-wrote all 13 tracks on the album, making it an even more impressive statement of her talent.

23. Enya — ‘A Day Without Rain’ (2000)


Sales: 7 Million Units

It’s weird to think that 9/11 could actually boost an album’s sales but that’s exactly what happened with Enya’s fifth album, “A Day Without Rain.” The record hit stores in November 2000 and nearly a year later, following heavy use by American TV networks of the Irish musician’s soothing music over footage of the terrorist attacks, sales drastically increased. The album won Enya a Grammy Award for best new age album in 2001, her third win in that category at that point.

22. Taylor Swift — ‘Red’ (2012)


Sales: 7 Million Units

In 2012, Taylor Swift was the talk of the music world because many people thought her album, “Red,” showed she was transitioning from country music to pop. Regardless of what genre you thought it fit into, the musician’s fourth album became a huge success with listeners and critics. Songs like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Begin Again” were hit singles that continued to confound people who wanted to put her style into just one box. As of 2019, “Red” has been dubbed seven-times platinum by the RIAA, based on its sales in America.

21. Evanescence — ‘Fallen’ (2003)


Sales: 7 Million Units

Only four rock bands appear on this list and I’m willing to bet Evanescence was the last one you’d guess. The group’s song, “Bring Me to Life,” was one of those songs you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing during its time on the charts. That single helped make their 2003 debut record, “Fallen,” one of the top sellers of the entire 21st century to this point. Evanescence never matched the juggernaut success of its first album — but its 2006 release, “The Open Door,” did go double platinum, meaning sales of at least 2 million in the U.S., which is pretty impressive on its own.

20. Backstreet Boys — ‘Black & Blue’ (2000)


Sales: 8 Million Units

Few artists sold as much music around the turn of the millennium as Backstreet Boys. The beloved boy band cranked out hit after hit, including ones from 2000’s “Black & Blue.” Incredibly, this album was certified eight-times platinum by the RIAA within a month of its release, further solidifying the guys as pop titans. Singles like “The Call” and “Shape of My Heart” became instant favorites of the band’s rabid fan base. “Black & Blue” would be the Backstreet Boys’ final album to go multi-platinum to date, signaling the end of an era.

19. Carrie Underwood — ‘Some Hearts’ (2005)


Sales: 8 Million Units

As women continue to mostly the dominate the list, country star Carrie Underwood’s debut smash is the best-selling album to ever come from any ex-contestant of “American Idol.” The Oklahoma native launched into the Nashville mainstream with “Some Hearts,” which has been certified as eight-times platinum since 2005. The record had three singles that topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, including “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats.” Those songs can still be heard on country radio today, cementing their status as modern classics.

18. Various Artists — ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ (2000)


Sales: 8 Million Units

Winning the Grammy for album of the year can help an album’s sales skyrocket — as you’ll see multiple times in this list — and that was the case with “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” The companion piece to the 2000 Coen Brothers movie, this is the only soundtrack to crack the list of the top sellers of the 2000s. “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” was filled with Americana, blues, folk and other rich genres that don’t typically account for blockbuster albums, which makes its appearance on the list unique. Its artists included Ralph Stanley, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss.

17. Taylor Swift — ‘1989’ (2014)


Sales: 9 Million Units

Within three months of the release of Taylor Swift’s proper pop debut, “1989,” it had sold more than four million copies in the United States. The sales would only continue to pile up from there, with the record eventually hitting nine-times platinum in December 2017. Hit after hit dominated radio for two years following its release, including “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood.” The record won Swift three Grammys in 2015, including the coveted album of the year award.

16. Garth Brooks — ‘The Ultimate Hits’ (2007)


Sales: 10 Million Units

Whereas greatest hits collections dominated the list of the best-selling albums of all time, there are only two on this list of top-sellers since 2000. Country icon Garth Brooks put together this mammoth set of 34 tracks in 2007, including 30 of his most beloved hits and four new songs. At the time it was released, Brooks hadn’t put out a new album in six years, making fans even hungrier for his new stuff than they might’ve been otherwise.

Because “The Ultimate Hits” was a two-disc set, each individual sale counts as two units for RIAA certifications, meaning it didn’t sell quite as many copies as others on this list but it’s still certified as diamond, which few albums of the 21st century can claim.

15. Taylor Swift — ‘Fearless’ (2008)


Sales: 10 Million Units

As you’ve seen, Taylor Swift has released plenty of massive sellers since she debuted in 2006 but it was “Fearless” that made her a phenomenon. Her second album was her first to win any Grammys — it won four in total, including album of the year — and is so far her only record to be certified diamond by the RIAA, which means at least 10 million sales in America. Still firmly entrenched in country music, Swift wrote or co-wrote every track on “Fearless,” including the modern classics “Love Story,” “White Horse” and “You Belong with Me.” It’s still the high mark of her career, in terms of record sales.

14. Nickelback — ‘All the Right Reasons’ (2005)


Sales: 10 Million Units

They may be the punching bag of the musical world but Nickelback knows how to move some albums out of the store. The Canadian band’s 2005 effort, “All the Right Reasons,” has been certified diamond by the RIAA and remains the group’s top seller. Nickelback has had three other albums sell at least 3 million copies each but, for whatever reason, this is the one that has attracted the most listeners by far. I guess infamous songs like “Rockstar” and “Photograph” are just too awesome to deny. Did we ever find out what the hell was on Joey’s head?

13. Nelly — ‘Country Grammar’ (2000)


Sales: 10 Million Units

The first rap album on the list comes from Nelly, who dominated radio in the early 2000s. The St. Louis hero’s debut disc eventually moved the equivalent of 10 million units in the U.S., being certified diamond in 2016. The record’s first three singles, “Country Grammar,” “E.I.” and “Ride wit Me,” all landed in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, helping earn this album its place on the list. Nelly has had two more albums certified multi-platinum since “Country Grammar,” including 2002’s “Nellyville,” which has moved 6 million units.

12. Usher — ‘Confessions’ (2004)


Sales: 10 Million Units

Usher has had three multi-platinum albums but none of his records has ever sold as many copies as 2004’s “Confessions.” In just over four years, the album sold more than 10 million copies in America, earning its diamond certification from the RIAA in 2008. Iconic producers like “L.A.” Reid, Jermaine Dupri and Just Blaze helped give “Confessions” a polished sound that defined its era of R&B. Singles like “Yeah!,” “Burn,” “My Boo” (on the special edition) and “Confessions Part II” all topped the Hot 100 chart, making Usher arguably the artist of the time.

11. Norah Jones — ‘Come Away With Me’ (2002)


Sales: 10 Million Units

Yet another Grammy winner for album of the year that smashed the charts, Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me” is also the only thing close to a jazz album to make this list. This was Jones’ debut album and it was released on the powerhouse jazz label Blue Note Records even though many listeners would say it’s more of an easy listening album. The record made Jones a phenomenon, winning her all five Grammys she was nominated for in 2002 and selling 10 million copies within three years of its release. She’s had two more multi-platinum studio albums since.

10. Eminem — ‘The Eminem Show’ (2002)


Sales: 10 Million Units

Since 2000, there have only been two artists to have multiple albums earn diamond certification and Eminem was the first to do it. In 2002, the rapper’s fourth record, “The Eminem Show,” continued an incredible run at the top of the charts for him that started in 1999. This album was hailed by critics and had plenty of songs that would go on to become rap classics, like “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” and “Without Me.” Since its release, Eminem has had five other albums go multi-platinum but he’s yet to recapture the kind of sales he generated for “The Eminem Show.”

9. Britney Spears — ‘Oops!…I Did It Again’ (2000)


Sales: 10 Million Units

No solo pop artist was selling more records when the calendar flipped to 2000 than Britney Spears. When her second album came out that year, fans were flooding music stores to pick it up, sending “Oops!…I Did It Again” to nine-times platinum status in about 10 months. The record would eventually be certified diamond by the RIAA in 2005, making it her second — and so far, final — album to hit that mark. Despite moving more than 10 million units, her debut album, 1999’s “…Baby One More Time,” actually outsold it by selling 14 million copies!

8. Eminem — ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ (2000)


Sales: 10 Million Units

Eminem’s first album to go diamond was his third record, “The Marshall Mathers LP.” This blockbuster disc would go down as the artist’s top-selling record to date and arguably his most acclaimed. The album went eight-times platinum within its first year of release and won three Grammys in 2000, including best rap album. This is undoubtedly the most controversial album on the list, with the heavy editing of its lyrics on non-explicit versions of the record reigniting debates about music industry censorship at the turn of the century.

7. Outkast — ‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’ (2003)


Sales: 11 Million Units

The most-certified rap album of the 2000s, based on RIAA’s measurement for two-disc collections counting as twice the sales, Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” was a smash across the board. It was yet another record on this list that also won the Grammy for album of the year, significantly raising its profile in the mainstream. The album saw the two members of Outkast, Big Boi and André 3000, recording separate solo records that were joined in a single, experimental package filled with nearly 40 unique tracks.

6. Shania Twain — ‘Up!’ (2002)


Sales: 11 Million Units

Before Taylor Swift was selling millions of albums by blurring the lines between country and pop, Shania Twain was doing it with even bigger numbers. In 2002, Twain released her fourth album, “Up!,” and it was an ambitious project — to say the least. There were three versions of the album released at once, one featuring country versions of its songs, one with pop versions and one with international versions. In the U.S., the record was a two-disc set featuring the first two versions and it went 11-times platinum within two years of its release.

What’s most incredible is that Twain had two other albums outsell it, 1995’s “The Woman in Me” and 1997’s “Come On Over,” the latter of which sold 20 million copies.

5. The Beatles — ‘1’ (2000)


Sales: 11 Million Units

No compilation album released since 2000 has sold more copies than “1” from The Beatles. The impressive collection saw all 27 of the legendary band’s No. 1 hits together on a single disc. This is one of those ultra-rare albums that virtually nobody can argue with. From early songs like “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” to later favorites like “Hey Jude” and “Something,” this is pretty much a flawless record — and it sold like one.

4. Linkin Park — ‘Hybrid Theory’ (2000)


Sales: 11 Million Units

If I asked you which band was responsible for the best-selling rock album of the 21st century, I doubt Linkin Park would be your first guess. The alt-rock band’s 2000 debut disc, “Hybrid Theory,” holds that distinction thanks to its 11 million copies sold. Songs like “One Step Closer” and “In the End” didn’t sound like anything else on the radio at the time and would become major hits for the band. Sadly, the album was stuck at 10-times platinum until 2017, when it moved to 11-times platinum less than a month following the tragic suicide death of lead singer Chester Bennington.

3. Adele — ’25’ (2015)


Sales: 11 Million Units

Not only does Adele’s “25” have one of the most striking album covers ever, it’s also put together a staggering amount of sales. Along with Taylor Swift’s “1989,” it’s one of only two albums released in the past five years to crack this list. This record, the third studio effort for the British powerhouse, won all five Grammys it was nominated for in 2016, including album of the year. I think it’s safe to say we’re all better for having heard crushing songs like “Hello” and “When We Were Young.”

2. *NSYNC — ‘No Strings Attached’ (2000)


Sales: 11 Million Units

There was only one boy band that could top Backstreet Boys when it came to album sales at the turn of the millennium and that was *NSYNC. The group’s third album, “No Strings Attached,” ended up being certified 11-times platinum by the RIAA within just 14 months of its release in March 2000. Why did it sell so quickly? It counted “Bye Bye Bye,” “It’s Gonna Be Me” and “This I Promise You” among its tracks is why.

1. Adele — ’21’ (2011)


Sales: 14 Million Units

Adele was just a singer signed to a small record label when she released her second studio album, “21,” in 2011. Her profile rose a bit when it became the best-selling album of the 21st century. This massive record won six Grammys in 2011, including album of the year, instantly making Adele the woman to watch in music. Her incredible performances on hit songs like “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone Like You,” “Set Fire to the Rain” and “Rumour Has It” helped make “21” a runaway success with pretty much everyone who heard it — which was nearly everyone with ears.

No other album since 2000 has even come close to going 14-times platinum.