Take a look at the below list of Top 10 Best Selling Albums by Solo Artists Ever until 2017. Pop music comes in two distinctive flavors that transcend all genres: the band and the solo artist. One is neither better nor preferable than the other; except perhaps when the solo artist is experimenting outside the confines of a band. In most cases, the preference there tends to go toward the music made with the band, but there have been occasions when solo albums by someone in a band turns out better than the albums made by the band. None come immediately to mind, but surely it must have happened. The point? There is no real point here; after all, this is a list of the top 10 best selling albums by solo artists ever until 2017. So just forget you ever even learned that music could be produced by a band and sit back and revel in the narcissistic joys of the solo artist at work.
List of Top 10 Best Selling Albums by Solo Artists Ever until 2017
10. The Classic Early Recordings in Chronological Order: Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt is undoubtedly the best jazz guitarist perpetually and forever, amen. The Classic Early Recordings in Chronological Order delivers on its admittedly toothy promise: every great early recording from this genius in the order in which it was recorded. Those who labor under delusions that guitarists like Slash or even Eddie Van Halen represent the ultimate in mastery of the instrument should be forced to listen to this masterpiece. And here’s the amazing thing: Reinhardt did it all without electricity.
9. Bill Nelson: On a Blue Wing
A solo album that is truly a solo album: Bill Nelson is a musical genius capable of writing every note and every lyric and as well as playing every instrument. You may not have heard of him before, but here’s something that you rarely get with solo albums: not one single bad song. Each track offers something new to contemplate about the genius that is Bill Nelson, although the song “Contemplation” leaps out because it is, quite simply, one of the most breathtakingly perfect compositions in the history of pop music.
8. She’s so Unusual: Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper’s debut album was released just a few months after Madonna’s debut album. They essentially came into musical world at the same time. Anyone willing to bet on them would surely have wagered the farm that Lauper was going to have the bigger career. Lauper’s songs are better, her voice is better and she didn’t have to worry about her career going when her looks failed. It remains one of the great mysteries of rock history how Madonna managed to become a legend and Lauper not much more than a footnote. Especially when you listen this album and then try to slog through the second side of Madonna’s debut album.
7. The Lion and the Cobra: Sinead O’Connor
Some people believe that Sinead O’Connor’s career began with a Prince song. We shall forthwith refer to those people as ignoramuses. O’Connor debut album was released before she ever got near Prince and every song on the album is better than that Prince song. Especially the single greatest song that Sinead O’Connor ever made: “Mandinka.” But besides that rocker is the elegantly subtle “Troy” and what is surely her second best song: “Jerusalem.”
6. Chris Isaak
The self-titled second album of Chris Isaak is his musical apex, despite his best song ever being on his first album: “Dancin’.” While nothing on the second album approaches the sheer genius of that song, the album overall is significantly stronger as Isaak’s incredible voice insinuates itself around such unforgettable tunes as “You Owe me Some King of Love” and “Blue Hotel” and “Cryin’.” This is one of the Top 10 Best Selling Albums by Solo Artists Ever until 2017.
5. Tapestry: Carole King
Did you know that Carole King’s Tapestry was the second-best-selling album of 1971 and 1972? Yeah, that’s right: over the course of two years albums Santana, the Carpenters, Cat Stevens and The Rolling Stones came and went, but Carole King held firm. “I Feel the Earth Move” and “You’ve Got a Friend” and “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” are all the kinds of songs that would be the standout hit on three different albums by anyone, but Carole King manages to fit them all on just one amazing LP.
4. Mustt Mustt: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Like the Brit just ahead of him, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has produced almost too many albums to make it easy to pick just one as his masterpiece. So we won’t call Mustt Mustt the masterwork of the man with—beyond all argument—the single greatest singing voice of the 20th century. But boy it is great. And a great introduction to Khan’s genius that makes it easier to get into his more focused and less fusion-related genre-bending experimentation. Is Mustt Mustt an album more for those with a more secular taste for Khan’s particular type of music? Absolutely. What was your point?
3. Imperial Bedroom: Elvis Costello
With so many albums stretching over such a long period, it is difficult to pick just one Elvis Costello album as his best. Unless, of course, you are familiar with Imperial Bedroom, in which case it becomes obvious. From “Beyond Belief” through the Dylan-on-acid of “Man out of Time” to the robust rock of the “The Loves Ones” to the plaintive tones of the “Town Cryer” this is Declan McManus at this absolute best.
2. Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places: Kid Creole and the Coconuts
Do not be confused. The Coconuts are merely backup singers. Kid Creole is, was and always will be essentially just August Darnell. August Darnell is more of a solo artist than Frank Sinatra because Sinatra just sang; Darnell wrote the songs he sang and played the instruments as well. Yes, true, one can listen to Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places by Kid Creole and the Coconuts and enjoy it as an example of the concept album as mini-rock opera. After all, there is a definitely a strong narrative thrust to the story of a guy chasing across the world in pursuit of girlfriend. Another way of viewing the album is a thematic one about the wide and diverse musical influences on songwriter August Darnell; this is the view forwarded by Darnell himself as the concept of his album. Then there is a third option that is the most satisfying of all. The girl in question who is being chased is named Mimi. A little creative messing with perspective and Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places becomes an album not about the search for another person, but a journey of self-discovery: the search for me-me. Or, in other words, one of the ultimate solo albums.
1. Elvis Presley
The self-titled debut album released in 1956 is more than simply an album by a solo artist. Heck, it’s actually less than an album by a solo artist since Elvis wrote none of the songs and played none of the instruments. But then again, he didn’t need to. Because Elvis Presley had that voice. And that voice made the album Elvis Presley more than a solo record; it is a revolutionary document. The album kicks off with “Blue Suede Shoes” and from that moment, everything about pop music changed forever.
These are the Top 10 Best Selling Albums by Solo Artists Ever until 2017. Some solo albums are just exercises in narcissism. This list reveals what a solo album should be: a glimpse into the very heart and soul of the person whose is emblazoned across the cover.