Dark Side of the Moon: Best Blockbuster Album Ever?
Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd's seminal album about mental illness, the inevitability of death, and anxiety born of living in modern society, turns 38 today. It remains one of the most successful...
Wait a minute? DSotM is 38 years old? How is that possible? It seems like just yesterday that a young, proto-mulleted Rocks Off was buying his first batch of cassettes for his new tape deck - a birthday present from Mom and Dad, probably to keep us from screwing around with their turntable.
Roger Waters and the boys came home that day in a plastic bag nestled alongside David Bowie's
The album spent a mind-boggling 741 weeks on the Billboard charts, finally slipping off in 1988. Its current worldwide sales sit at 45 million, still a formidable total, but no longer No. 1 (two albums have sold more). Still, looking at Floyd's companions atop the list of best-selling albums got us thinking: These other guys have moved a lot of product, but are any of the other albums with over 42 million* copies sold actually better than Dark Side?
Michael Jackson, Thriller
Worldwide Sales: 110 million
Arguments For: The King of Pop's magnum opus leads the next contender by a greater than 2:1 margin, and its slick production and hooks are matched only by its ubiquity. To this day, the only house we've ever been in without a copy was our grandparents' - who did have Off the Wall.
Arguments Against: Not many. "The Girl is Mine," maybe. And the inescapable knowledge of the freakshow he would soon become.
Verdict: We can certainly see the arguments, but in Rocks Off's opinion, DSotM is still better.
AC/DC, Back in Black
Worldwide Sales: 49 million
For: While Moon was a natural result of Pink Floyd's growth as a band, Back in Black was the album that wasn't supposed to get made in the first place. AC/DC almost broke up after lead singer Bon Scott's death five months earlier. Instead, they released what would become the second best-selling album of all time, containing several of the band's biggest hits.
Against: Uh...we're kind of sick of "You Shook Me All Night Long."
Verdict: Man, this is tough. We're going with Back in Black, even though it's like comparing lush, textured apples to aggressive, pile-driving oranges.
Whitney Houston, et. al.: The Bodyguard Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Worldwide Sales: 44 million
For: It put some money in Dolly Parton's pocket, so that's something.
Against: Kenny G. Also, name any other song off of this other than "I Will Always Love You." Also, Kenny G.
Verdict: The Bodyguard couldn't beat Dark Side of the Moon if David Gilmour played every guitar part with his feet.
Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell
Worldwide Sales: 43 million
For: Get the fuck out of here: Bat Out of Hell has sold almost as many copies as Moon? Guess those sweaty, poorly exposed videos were more effective than we thought.
Against: The songs most guaranteed to put our ass in a chair at any given wedding reception are "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang, "Friends in Low Places" by Garth, and "Paradise by the Dashboard Light."
Verdict: While Rocks Off has some fond memories regarding this album, a girl we used to date in college, and Lake Travis, it's Dark Side of the Moon in a walk.
The Eagles, Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)
Worldwide Sales: 42 million
For: We're pretty sure this album was passed out to everyone in 9th grade. Certainly it provided one of the cornerstones for our college camping experiences. Mostly because it was one of the few CDs everybody would agree to listen to without bitching.
Against: Greatest-hits albums should be stricken from consideration.
Verdict: That said, this is about as solid a compilation you're likely to come across. And provided you don't "hate the fucking Eagles, man," there's not a weak cut here. That said, gotta go with Moon.
Various Artists, Dirty Dancing OMPS
Worldwide Sales: 42 million*
For: Rocks Off is as big as a fan of Patrick Swayze as anyone - perhaps more so - and we're happy this led to bigger movie roles for the guy, but...
Against: It's hard to defend his Don Johnson-esque decision to subject audiences to his vocal stylings, much less the likes of Eric Carmen and the Blow Monkeys(!), especially on an album featuring standout cuts by the Ronettes and Otis Redding.
Verdict: Are you serious? DSotM wins, even without "She's Like the Wind."
* 42 million was the cutoff to keep the list from being too unwieldy. And to exclude the Backstreet Boys.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.