Most of the musical artists we listen to either came out of the United States of America or the United Kingdom. Because of this, most of the best selling artists of all time are from one of these two areas of the world. We all know artists like The Beatles and Elvis Presley have sold millions of albums all over the globe, but how many artists do you know that were not from America or England?
There are many artists who came out of different countries. We know some of them very well either because they achieved a huge amount of success all over the globe or simply because they speak English. Believe it or not the English language has a huge effect on how many albums an artist can sell. Most of the richest countries in the world primarily speak English. Very few of these citizens would want to buy an album in a language they do not speak. However, there are a number of great artists who have achieved a lot of success by producing music in different languages.
This list ranks the album sales of these non- U.S. or U.K. artists. These artists may or may not be popular in these countries. Therefore, you may not have heard of a few of them. Others you will know right away and may even be your favorite musical artist ever. The only requirement is that their initial success was in a country other than the U.S. or U.K. For example, Santana is known as a Latin rock band, but they gained their popularity in the United States at the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in 1969. Therefore, they are really an American band.
10. Bob Marley and the Wailers — 74 Million Albums Worldwide
When people think of Jamaica, one of the first things that come to their minds is Bob Marley and the Wailers. The Wailers began in 1963 in the back alleys of Kingston. Bob Marley was the front man of the band. He wrote lyrics that were not like anything else being written anywhere else in the world at the time. His extremely personal lyrics quickly entrenched him as the main force in the band, making the Wailers almost a backing band. In 1974, The Wailers broke up and Marley pursued his own career. In 1977, he released the album Exodus which launched his career to an international level. Unfortunately, Bob Marley died of melanoma in March of 1981. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He has sold an estimated 75 million albums worldwide.
9. B’z — 80 Million Albums Worldwide
The rock duo B’z is probably the most unknown group on this list. However, this band has sold over 80 million albums worldwide. They are most famous in the native country, Japan, and the surrounding area. They began in the late 1980s and quickly took over the pop charts in Japan with their self-titled album. The duo’s music was a mix of electronic dance music and rock and roll in their early days. As the years went on B’z began to move away from electronic synthesizers and experiment with many different styles of rock music including blues and heavy metal. Their best selling albums are their heavy metal albums such as In The Life.
8. Shania Twain — 85 Million Albums Worldwide
Shania Twain’s success has earned her the nickname “The Queen of Country Pop”. The Canadian country singer gained international fame shortly after beginning her career. Her 1995 album The Woman In Me showed the world that a female country singer could sell just as many albums as any pop singer. Then in 1997 she released Come On Over which became the best selling studio album by a female singer of all time. It is also the best selling country album of all time. She won five Grammy Awards before retiring in 2004. In 2012, she began performing once again in Las Vegas, Nevada’s Caesars Palace. She has sold an estimated 85 million albums worldwide.
7. Bryan Adams — 100 Million Albums Worldwide
Bryan Adams is the best selling Canadian rock act of all time. He has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. He rose to fame in 1983 with his album Cuts Like A Knife. He then achieved international success the following year with the album Reckless. His song “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” is one of the best selling singles of all time. Adams has won 15 Grammys throughout his career.
6. Johnny Hallyday — 100 Million Albums Worldwide
Jean-Phillippe Smet, who goes by the stage name Johnny Hallyday, is the best selling French speaking artist of all time. He is sometimes referred to as “The French Elvis Presley”. Hallyday became famous in the early 1960s for singing 1950s rock and roll classics in French. He has performed and recorded with many big name English speaking artists over the years including Rod Stewart and Jimmy Page. In 1966, The Jimi Hendrix Experience actually played their first concert together as an opening act for Hallyday. It is estimated Johnny Hallyday has sold over 100 million albums worldwide.
5. U2 — 150 Million Albums Worldwide
It is probably a bit surprising that U2 would only be number five on this list. However, U2 has always been far better at selling out concerts than selling albums. In fact their 2009 to 2011 world tour is the highest grossing tour of all time, but they have only sold about 150 million albums worldwide. The band was formed in Ireland in 1976 by Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. They released their first album, Boy, in 1980. The concert tour for the album quickly established them as one of the biggest touring acts in the world. It was not until they released The Joshua Tree 1987 that they became known as a band that could fill seats and sell records. U2 holds the record for the most Grammys won of all time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
4. Celine Dion — 197 Million Albums Worldwide
Celine Dion has sold an estimated 175 million albums worldwide. She is the best selling solo female artist of all time. Celine began in Quebec, Canada as a French speaking artist. She gained international recognition in 1982 at the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival. In 1990, she was signed by CBS Records and released her first album in English. Dion was diagnosed with cancer in 1999 at the height of her career. She beat the disease and made a comeback in 2002. She has won five Grammys including Best Album for Falling Into You and Record of the Year for My Heart Will Go On (Theme from Titanic). Her 1995 album D’eux is the best selling album ever recorded in the French language.
3. AC/DC — 200 Million Albums Worldwide
In 1973 Australian brothers Angus and Malcolm Young formed AC/DC. The band would go on to become one of the most popular and most influential rock bands of all time. They released their first album High Voltage in 1975. The band’s lead singer, Bon Scott, passed away in 1979 right after releasing their first hit album, Highway to Hell. Scott was replaced by Brian Johnson. With Johnson on vocals, AC/DC recorded their best selling album of their career in 1980: Back in Black. Back in Black has sold over 50 million copies worldwide, making it their fifth best selling album of all time. AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. They have sold over 200 million albums worldwide. They have sold an estimated 71 million albums in the United States alone, making them the fifth best selling band in the country.
2. Julio Iglesias — 300 Million Albums Worldwide
Julio Iglesias is the best selling Latin artist of all time. He began his career at the 1968 Benidorm International Song Festival in Madrid, Spain. In 1979, he signed a major record deal with CBS International. His 1988 album Un Hombre Solo won the Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album. Over his career Iglesias has recorded 80 albums in 14 different languages and has sold over 300 million records.
1. ABBA — 380 Million Albums Worldwide
ABBA was a pop music group in the 1970s from Stockholm, Sweden. The band’s name is taken from the first letter of each of the members’ first names. After forming in 1972, ABBA rose to international fame for their performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. They were the first Swedish band to win the contest. They then went on to sell over 380 million albums throughout their career and became the first group from a non-English speaking country to achieve a high level of success in the United States and the United Kingdom. ABBA broke up in 1982. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.