Try guessing the Top Ten Best Selling Albums of the 1990s


Having come of age in the 1990s, I thought I would be a champ at guessing the top ten best selling albums of the decade… and I failed miserably.  Pearl Jam is not in the top ten.  (Mind Blown!  They’re in the top 20.)  But when I sat back and took an objective look at the list, it all started to make sense. 

10.  Ropin’ the Wind (1991) – Garth Brooks
14 million albums sold

I completely forgot how popular Garth Brooks was in the 1990s.  Garth Brooks was so popular that he didn’t even have to be Garth Brooks to sell albums – his alter ego Chris Gaines’s only album In the Life of Chris Gaines went double platinum in the United States.  Needless to say, this won’t be Garth’s only spot in the 1990s top ten… and yet, I couldn’t tell you the name of a single Garth Brooks song, but if I saw him on the street, I think I’d recognize him.

9 .  Backstreet Boys (1996) – Backstreet Boys
14.1 million  albums sold

As a teenager, the Backstreet Boys were, to me, the death of popular music.  This is when I went and hid in progressive rock… pretty much for the rest of my life.  These dudes are heralds of woe as far as I’m concerned.  I just don’t see the appeal – their music is BORING.  I know it’s not fair to say “all their songs sound the same,” because that’s true of most groups, but the Backstreet Boys took it to another level.

8 . Supernatural (1999) – Santana
14.6 million  albums sold

For me, this is just a case of taste:  I don’t like this album.  Somebody bought it for me, I listened to it a few times (not that I had to – the singles were EVERYWHERE; “Smooth” would just not go away) but beyond some of Santana’s guitar solos, it just didn’t grow on me.

7 .  Double Live (1998) – Garth Brooks
15 million  albums sold

Again, Garth Brooks is famous.  I was never a fan, but I guess everybody else was.
“Is that Garth Garth or Chris Garth?”
“That’s Classic Garth.”
“Classic Garth…”
Sorry, quick I Heart Huckabees reference in there…

6.  No Fences (1990) – Garth Brooks
16 million  albums sold

Again, people like Garth Brooks.

5. Metallica (1991) – Metallica
16 million  albums sold

I am at least aware of the songs on this album even if I don’t love them.  “Enter Sandman” is finally going away now that Mariano Rivera has retired from baseball, so I think we’re free of this beast.  Not a bad album but nothing besides nostalgia for me.

4. Cracked Rear View (1994) – Hootie & The Blowfish
16.1 million  albums sold

I’m not the world’s biggest Dave Matthews Band fan, but I immediately felt that Hootie was merely a watered down version of DMB.  Listening to “Hold My Hand” was like… I dunno, something something relevant 90s bad thing.  Finding out your computer was susceptible to Y2K.  Sure – let’s go with that.  Hootie isn’t worth a good analogy.

3. Jagged Little Pill (1995) – Alanis Morissette
16.2 million  albums sold

"It's like raaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaaan."  ~NY Times

“It’s like raaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaaan.” ~NY Times

Yeah, I’m breaking this post out again.  Oh, and this one, too.

Anyway, oy, this album is annoying.  “Ironic,” “You Oughta Know,” “Head Over Feet…” there’s something very disingenuous about these songs.  I just don’t believe her – I feel like Alanis figured out what was cool and along with producer Glen Ballard, tricked everyone into thinking she’s something she’s not.  She’s just one of these artists that goes whichever way the wind blows and she hit it big.

2. The Bodyguard (1992) – Various Artists
17.1 million  albums sold

Speaking of people who were enormously popular in the 1990s, Kevin Costner starred opposite Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard and just about everybody loved it.  The fact that Whitney Houston is an amazing singer and her cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” was more than enough to create a huge success.  Seriously.  Even barely pubescent Jamie thought just about everything that had to do with The Bodyguard was great.  As I recall, this was my favorite:

Sigh.  Nobody sings like Whitney.  She was so good I don’t even care what song it is.  I’d of paid to listen to her sing the phonebook.

1. Come On Over (1997) – Shania Twain
20 million albums sold

This should not have surprised me.  That stupid “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” song was everywhere.  You got in your friend’s car, it was on the radio, they were playing at the school dance, in the grocery store, you open your closet to put on a jacket and BOOM!  Shania Twain is there!  Dum Dum Da Dum Da Dum Dum!

That first measure.  It’s tattooed into my brain!

Shania had crossover success the likes of which will probably never be seen again.  But then she took a two year break and had a kid and that put the breaks on her career in the big way.

I’m sorry, Shania – I’m glad you’re a vegetarian, but I don’t care for your pop sensibilities.

So how’d you do, dear reader?  Did you know Garth Brooks was going to inhabit a third of the list?  I sure didn’t, but I guess country/pop crossover reigned supreme back in the day (I think Hootie counts, too) in a way it probably never will again.  Now it’s all about stealing Madonna’s act.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on February 21, 2015, in lists, music review and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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