Top 25 Worst Selling #1 Albums

Published: Tuesday 25th Nov 2008 by Sam
Top 25 Worst Selling #1 Albums Yahoo Music published a real interesting list recently of the Worst Selling #1 Albums. Though kinda long, it was a very insightful read; after all, labels and publicists are oh-so-quick to tout an artists #1 selling status, yet we often hear very little thereafter. Check out the full list below (which is complied from the 365 albums that topped the Nielsen/SoundScan chart from May 25, 1991 through December 31, 2006), I’m sure some of the entries will surprise some:

1. Omarion, 21, 390,000. This was the R&B artist’s second album in a row to open at #1. Omarion’s solo debut album, O, had achieved the feat in March 2005. But 21, which charted in December 2006, has sold only about half as many copies as that earlier album (see #17). The key song from 21, “Ice Box,” reached #12 on the Hot 100. This was the lowest-selling #1 album of 2006.

2. Jaheim, Ghetto Classics, 446,000. This was the R&B artist’s third album, but his first to reach #1. It charted in February 2006. A key reason Ghetto Classics is on this list: No songs from the album made the Hot 100, whereas two songs from each of Jaheim’s previous albums made the top 30.

3. Johnny Cash, American V: A Hundred Highways, 491,000. This charted in July 2006, nearly three years after Cash’s death. It was the country legend’s first studio album to reach #1. His only other #1 album on The Billboard 200 was the live Johnny Cash At San Quentin in 1969. So this wasn’t really a dud. This is the only album on this list that had first-week sales of fewer than 100,000 copies. (It bowed with lukewarm sales of 88,000.)

4. Juvenile, Reality Check, 505,000. This was the rapper’s eighth album, but his first to reach #1. It charted in March 2006. The key single from the album, “Rodeo,” peaked at #41, a drop-off from such previous Juvenile releases as “Slow Motion” (featuring Soulja Slim), which hit #1 in 2004.

5. R. Kelly & Jay-Z, Unfinished Business, 524,000. This was the second collaboration by the superstar pairing. The first, The Best Of Both Worlds, peaked at #2 in 2002. But that first album has sold a healthier 933,000 copies. This was the lowest-selling #1 album of 2004-as well as the lowest-selling chart-topper of the Nielsen/SoundScan era to that point. (It may have been undercut by Jay-Z’s collaboration with Linkin Park, Collision Course, which was released just five weeks later.) Unfinished Business charted in October 2004 with first-week sales of 215,000. That’s 41% of its total.

6. Marilyn Manson, The Golden Age Of Grotesque, 526,000. This album, which charted in May 2003, was Manson’s second #1, following Mechanical Animals in 1998. Both of these releases were the lowest-selling #1 albums of their respective years. The Gothic shock rocker is the only artist to have the lowest-selling #1 album of the year twice in the Nielsen/SoundScan era.

7. LeToya, LeToya, 529,000. This was the solo debut by LeToya Luckett, a former member of Destiny’s Child. LeToya left the group in early 2000, after the release of its top 10 blockbuster, The Writing’s On The Wall. LeToya has sold about one-twelfth as many copies as that album has. The album charted in July 2006. The single, “Torn,” reached #31 on the Hot 100.

8. Prince, 3121, 530,000. What’s a legend like Prince doing on a list like this? Anybody can have an album that under-performs, to use a favored industry euphemism. 3121 charted in March 2006. It was Prince’s fourth album to reach #1; his first to do since Batman in 1989. “Black Sweat” was the only song from the album to make the Hot 100. It spent one week on the chart at #60.

9. Private Parts soundtrack, 562,000. The rock soundtrack to the Howard Stern comedy/biopic charted in March 1997. It was that year’s lowest-selling #1 album. In fact, it was the lowest-selling #1 album between May 1991 and May 2003, when a Marilyn Manson album did even worse (see #6). It’s also the lowest-selling #1 soundtrack from 1991-2008 (except for the two-week old Twilight, which will quickly surpass it). Apart from the four oldies on the album, no songs from the album made the Hot 100.

10. Gridlock’d soundtrack, 585,000. This soundtrack charted in February 1997, five months after the movie’s star, 2 Pac, was shot to death. The album features two 2Pac tracks, one a collaboration with Snoop Doggy Dogg. No songs from the album made the Hot 100.

11. Busta Rhymes, The Big Bang, 613,000. This was the rapper’s seventh album, but his first to reach #1. It charted in June 2006 with first week sales of 209,000. A single, “Touch It,” had run its course by the time the album was released. The follow-up, “I Love My B***,” stalled at #41 on the Hot 100. By contrast, five Busta Rhymes songs from previous albums made the top 10.

12. Bruce Springsteen, Devils & Dust, 650,000. This was The Boss’ seventh #1 album; his first since The Rising in 2002. But it has sold less than a third as many copies as that album has. Devils & Dust charted in May 2005 with first-week sales of 222,000. It was that year’s lowest-selling #1 album. The title song stalled at #72 on the Hot 100. It spent just one week on the chart, compared to 11 weeks for the title song from The Rising.

13. Madonna, American Life, 674,000. This was Madonna’s fifth chart-topper; her first since Music in 2000. But this has sold less than a quarter as many copies as that album has. American Life charted in April 2003 with first-week sales of 241,000. That’s 36% of its total. The album included Madonna’s 2002 hit “Die Another Day” from the James Bond movie of the same name. The problem: No other songs from the album cracked the top 30.

14. India.Arie, Testimony: Vol. 1: Life & Relationship, 688,000. This was the R&B artist’s third album, but her first to reach #1. It charted in July 2006. The single, “I Am Not My Hair,” had one fleeting week on the Hot 100 (at #97). India.Arie’s 2001 breakthrough hit, “Video,” logged seven months on the chart.

15. Diddy, Press Play, 700,000. This was the rap icon’s first #1 album since 1997, when, as Puff Daddy, he topped the chart with No Way Out. But Press Play has sold less than one-seventh as many copies as that album has. Press Play charted in October 2006. The album’s key track, “Come To Me” (featuring Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls) went top 10 on the Hot 100. (By contrast, No Way Out contained four top five hits.)

16. Rod Stewart, Still The Same…Great Rock Classics Of Our Time, 719,000. This was the English star’s first pop/rock album following four million-selling Great American Songbook collections. It charted in October 2006. The Songbook albums were trending downward in sales, from a high of 3,221,000 for the first to a low of 1,112,000 for the fourth. A fifth Songbook outing would probably have sold about what this did. So this wasn’t a bad showing, just not as good as many figured. It was Stewart’s fourth #1 album.

17. Omarion, O, 758,000. This was the R&B artist’s solo debut album, following a pair of top 10 albums with the teen group B2K. O charted in February 2005. The title song reached #27 on the Hot 100. Omarion is the only artist with two albums on this list. (There’s another dubious distinction.)

18. Nas, Hip Hop Is Dead, 764,000. This was the rapper’s third #1 album, following It Was Written in 1996 and I Am… in 1999. But it has sold only about a third of what those albums have sold. Hip Hop Is Dead charted in December 2006, with first-week sales of 355,000. That’s a whopping 46% of its total. The title track, featuring will.i.am, peaked at #41 on the Hot 100, lower than such earlier Nas hits as “Street Dreams” and “I Can.”

19. Incubus, Light Grenades, 773,000. This was the hard rock group’s sixth album, but its first to reach #1. It charted in December 2006. The key track, “Anna-Molly,” peaked at #66 on the Hot 100, a far cry from the top 10 showing of the band’s “Drive” in 2001.

20. Godsmack, IV, 815,000. This was the hard rock group’s second consecutive full-length album to reach #1, following Faceless. But this has sold about half of what that 2003 album has sold. IV charted in May 2006 with first-week sales of 211,000. The key track, “Speak,” reached #85 on the Hot 100.

21. The Isley Brothers featuring Ronald Isley, Body Kiss, 815,000. This was the veteran R&B group’s second #1 album; its first since The Heat Is On in 1975. Body Kiss charted in May 2003. R. Kelly wrote and produced the key track, “What Would You Do?,” which stalled at #49 on the Hot 100.

22. Led Zeppelin, How The West Was Won, 818,000. This live, three-disk compilation charted in June 2003. (It’s the only album on this list that comprises more than a single disk.) This was the legendary hard-rock band’s seventh #1 album; its first since 1979’s In Through The Out Door.

23. LL Cool J, G.O.A.T. Featuring James T. Smith The Greatest Of All Time, 822,000. This was the rap superstar’s ninth album, but his first to hit #1. G.O.A.T. charted in July 2000 with first-week sales of 209,000. It was that boom year’s lowest-selling #1 album. “Imagine That” was the only song from the album to make the Hot 100. It peaked at #98.

24. Various Artists, The Neptunes Present…Clones, 827,000. Pharrell Williams was featured on six tracks on this hip-hop collection. One of them, “Frontin'” (featuring Jay-Z), went top five on the Hot 100. The album charted in August 2003 with first-week sales of 249,000.

25. A Tribe Called Quest, Beats, Rhymes And Life, 828,000. This charted in August 1996, making it the oldest album on this list. It was the lowest-selling #1 album of 1996-and the lowest-selling chart-topper of the Nielsen/SoundScan era to that point. (It took the unwelcome title from Depeche Mode’s 1993 album, Songs Of Faith And Devotion.) Beats, Rhymes And Life was the New York-based rap trio’s fourth album, but its first to hit #1. No songs from the album made the Hot 100.

Granted some of the names/releases on the list have stories behind the poor sales, it’s still pretty compelling stuff all the same.

Your thoughts

Comments 21

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  1. Anonymous November 25, 2008

    I ain’t listening to what they saying cause some of those names ( like letoya) had to stop promo and they stopped the money cause of the merger. Hell she did better than most cause in the industry sometimes you don’t get second chances.

    I don’t know what the reason was for this article cause sometimes you don’t always come with the big sales and since then they albums have sold more than that so whatever to them.

  2. Anonymous November 25, 2008

    Thanks for posting Sam.

    I was shocked to see some do so bad. Poor Omari LOL LOL

  3. Frederick November 25, 2008

    this list seems to be based on statistics… and, it’s kind of boring.

  4. Anonymous November 25, 2008

    well letoya cd did go number one. better than kelly and michele cd. And letoya sold more cd as well.

  5. jonnyhco November 25, 2008

    well damn

  6. Anonymous November 25, 2008

    letoya no way in hell sold more than kelly…
    kelly’s simply deep sold over 2.5 million and ms.kelly sold over 1.5 million and that’s not even in units.
    and michelle gospel cd sold more than letoya so shut your ass up

  7. Kenn November 25, 2008

    hahahahaha

    poor letoya 😀

  8. Anonymous November 26, 2008

    Yeah last I checked Letoya’s album sold more than 1 million copies. Her album went Plat. So, I don’t know what this article is talking about. Of course 1 million copies doesn’t compare to what the Destiny’s Child album did in terms of album sales. No on has, not even Beyonce. Letoya’s album was a commercial success by all standards, plus she was and is a song writer. So, i’m paying this article no mind!

  9. Anonymous November 26, 2008

    Anyone interested in learning about your favorite artist. Check out their stats at http://www.riaa.com

    You can check their database to see what their albums were certified.

    First
    Artist
    LETOYA Title
    LETOYA Certification Date
    08/31/2006 Label
    CAPITOL
    Award Description
    GOLD Format
    ALBUM Category
    SOLO Type
    ST

    ——————————————————————————–

    Artist
    LETOYA Title
    LETOYA Certification Date
    12/11/2006 Label
    CAPITOL
    Award Description
    PLATINUM Format
    ALBUM Category
    SOLO Type
    ST

  10. Anonymous November 26, 2008

    letoya aint nothing special she has an annoying as voice like michelle’s but she is pretty though even better looking than beyonce but her and kelly are some hot chicas!!!

  11. Anonymous November 26, 2008

    i don’t know what the purpose of the article was. last time i checked, going gold is pretty damn decent.

  12. Anonymous November 26, 2008

    “kelly’s simply deep sold over 2.5 million and ms.kelly sold over 1.5 million and that’s not even in units.”

    You mean albums or albums AND singles, because Ms Kelly didn’t sell 1.5 million albums. On her forum someone kept us updated and she got to 500,000 worldwide a few months ago.

  13. Anonymous November 26, 2008

    How can they say the Juvenile’s Reality Check was garbage . . . that cd is the s*** . . . he is a serious lyricist . . . he sick wit it . . . Sam, why the wack ass pic of Omari . . . to remind us of what not to do on national t.v. . . . LMAO!

  14. Anonymous November 26, 2008

    Latoya album wasn’t certified platinum it shipped 1 million units and to try to up artist they sometimes put that out while not telling people shipping and actually selling is two different ball games. Latoya is cool but all that hype sometimes is actually that HYPE same thing goes for others.

  15. Anonymous November 26, 2008

    mmmm Sorry to correct you about Letoya’s album, but it was indeed certified Platnum. Go to the Recording Industry Association of America’s website. It is the ONLY American site that cerifies albums gold, plat, or multi plat. Check their database. http://www.riaa.com

    Her album was certified plat. Sorry!

  16. Fernie November 26, 2008

    @ anonymous 5:52

    do some got damn homework CORRECT
    you actually believe these sites?
    ms.kelly sold over 1.5 million end of story

  17. Anonymous November 26, 2008

    yeah i checked and ms.kelly has sold more than a million copies!!!
    not including singles just the album
    WOW im really amazed

  18. Anonymous November 26, 2008

    botton line is kelly and Michelle need a new Manger. Michelle new cd came out last month.How much press has she done? Compare to Solange.Don’t forget beyonce has been on every show their is to on last month.How many cd has Michelle sold ?Her new cd?

  19. Anonymous November 27, 2008

    Kelly is trash. Get over it!

  20. Anonymous November 30, 2008

    This list was pointless. A list of worst #1 albums is pretty dumb. If an album is successful who cares if wasn’t as successful as millions of others. The main goal is to get a good sales period and these sales are good. Many albums on that list are nice also. (India.Arie, Prince, Nas, LeToya, LL Cool J, ATCQ). If they went number 1 on the charts that’s still an accomplishment and those sales aren’t anything to snicker or frown at. They still are either certified gold are platinum. A lot of singers wish they could get those sales, especially in today’s economy.

  21. Anonymous November 30, 2008

    letoya is trash. Get over it!

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