The Fame Monster, the expanded version of Lady Gaga's blockbuster debut album The Fame, reached a milestone this week. The digital tracks from the album have sold a combined total of more than 25 million units. No other album has rung up such a hefty total in sales of its digital tracks.
I dug into the Nielsen/SoundScan site and found the 20 albums whose tracks have sold the most digital copies. (Again, this is not a ranking of album sales, but of the tracks from those albums.) Pop and dance music dominates the list, with Gaga joined by the Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, Fergie, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Timbaland, P!nk, Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson.
Rap holds down four of the 20 slots, thanks to T.I., Lil Wayne, Jay-Z and Flo Rida. Contemporary R&B accounts for three: Beyonce, Chris Brown and Akon. Country has two, both by Taylor Swift. Rock, surprisingly, has just one: Nickelback.
Expanded or deluxe editions have been released on most of these albums. In two cases, a song that was added to the deluxe edition of the album wound up as the best-selling song on the album. Rihanna's "Disturbia," which was added to Good Girl Gone Bad, has outsold even "Umbrella," her 2007 smash with Jay-Z. Likewise, Chris Brown's "Forever," which was added to Exclusive, has outsold "Kiss, Kiss," his 2007 hit with T-Pain.
("Bad Romance," which was added to The Fame, hasn't outsold Gaga's monster hits "Just Dance" and "Poker Face," but it has sold more than 4 million copies, which is good even for Gaga.)
The oldest album on the list is Michael Jackson's Thriller, which was released in December 1982. All of the other albums were released within the last five years, which makes sense because this is in the period in which digital song sales have exploded.
Here are the 20 albums whose tracks have sold the most combined copies. I show the month of release of the original version of the album. I also show all the tracks from the album that are included on Nielsen/SoundScan's running list of the 200 best-selling songs in digital history, along with their sales tallies as of this week. I hope some of your favorites made the list.
1. Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster, 25,054,000. Gaga's debut album was released in October 2008. It was a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year for 2009. "Bad Romance" and "Telephone" were added to the deluxe edition. Top songs: "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis) (5,583,000), "Poker Face" (5,409,000), "Bad Romance" (4,111,000), "Paparazzi" (2,616,000), "Telephone" (featuring Beyonce) (2,384,000) and "Lovegame" (2,199,000).
2. The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D., 18,112,000. This was the Peas' fifth album; their third featuring their current line-up. It's the album by a group that has spurred the most digital track sales. It was released in June 2009 and was a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year. Top songs: "I Gotta Feeling" (5,990,000), "Boom Boom Pow" (5,491,000), "Imma Be" (2,999,000), "Meet Me Halfway" (2,267,000).
3. Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, 17,081,000. This album, Rihanna's third, was released in June 2007. "Disturbia" and "Take A Bow" were added to the deluxe edition. Top songs: "Disturbia" (3,949,000), "Umbrella" (featuring Jay-Z) (3,612,000), "Don't Stop The Music" (3,017,000), "Take A Bow" (2,369,000).
4. Taylor Swift, Fearless: Platinum Edition, 14,762,000. Swift's second studio album, released in November 2008, won the Grammy for Album of the Year for 2009. It's the country album that has spurred the most digital track sales. Top songs: "Love Story" (4,638,000), "You Belong With Me (3,335,000).
5. Fergie, The Dutchess: Deluxe, 13,214,000. Five songs from Fergie's solo debut album have sold more than 2 million digital copies each. Is, to this day, the only album that, in its originally released form, spawned five 2-million digital sellers. The album was released in September 2006. Top songs: "Big Girls Don't Cry" (3,549,000), "Fergalicious" (featuring will.i.am) (2,883,000), "Glamorous" (featuring Ludacris) (2,802,000), "Clumsy" (2,138,000) and "London Bridge" (2,115,000).
6. Nickelback, All The Right Reasons, 12,634,000. The Canadian pop/rock band's fifth album is the rock album that has spurred the most digital track sales. It was released in October 2005. Top songs: "Rockstar" (3,454,000), "Photograph" (2,427,000), "Far Away" (2,069,000).
7. Beyonce, I Am...Sasha Fierce: Deluxe Edition, 12,305,000. Beyonce's third solo studio album, released in November 2008, was a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year for 2009. It's the contemporary R&B album that has spurred the most digital track sales. Top songs: "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" (4,142,000), "Halo" (2,518,000), "If I Were A Boy" (2,393,000).
8. T.I., Paper Trail, 11,936,000. The rapper's sixth album was released in September 2008. It's the rap album that has spurred the most digital track sales. It's also the album by a male solo artist that has spurred the most track sales. Top songs: "Live Your Life" (featuring Rihanna) (3,900,000), "Whatever You Like" (3,716,000), "Dead And Gone" (featuring Justin Timberlake) (2,833,000).
9. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III, 11,674,000. The rapper's sixth solo album, released in June 2008, was a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year. Top songs: "Lollipop" (featuring Static Major) (3,928,000), "A Milli" (1,847,000).
10. Katy Perry, One Of The Boys, 11,487,000. Perry's breakthrough album was released in June 2008. Top songs: "Hot N Cold" (4,440,000), "I Kissed A Girl" (3,828,000).
11. Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift, 10,591,000. Swift's debut album was released in October 2006. Top songs: "Our Song" (2,635,000), "Teardrops On My Guitar" (2,495,000).
12. Ke$ha, Animal, 10,340,000. Ke$ha's debut album was released in January 2010, making it the newest album on this list. Top songs: "TiK ToK" (5,028,000), "Your Love Is My Drug" (2,157,000), "Blah Blah Blah" (featuring 3OH!3) (1,870,000).
13. Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3, 9,865,000. This album, Jay-Z's 11th regular solo studio set, was released in September 2009. Top songs: "Empire State Of Mind" (with Alicia Keys) (3,832,000), "Run This Town" (with Rihanna and Kanye West) (2,500,000), "Young Forever" (with Mr. Hudson) (2,047,000).
14. Chris Brown, Exclusive-The Forever Edition, 9,820,000. Brown's sophomore album was released in November 2007. "Forever" was added to the deluxe edition. Top songs: "Forever" (3,077,000), "Kiss Kiss" (featuring T-Pain) (2,702,000), "With You" (2,250,000).
15. Timbaland, Timbaland Presents Shock Value, 9,146,000. Timbaland's second solo album was released in April 2007. Top songs: "Apologize" (featuring OneRepublic) (4,735,000), "The Way I Are (featuring Keri Hilson) (2,804,000), "Give It To Me" (featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake) (1,880,000).
16. Akon, Konvicted: Platinum Edition, 8,975,000. Akon's second album was released in November 2006. Top songs: "Smack That" (featuring Eminem) (2,987,000), "Don't Matter" (2,298,000), "I Wanna Love You" (featuring Snoop Dogg) (2,119,000).
17. Flo Rida, Mail On Sunday, 8,842,000. Flo Rida's debut album was released in March 2008. Top songs: "Low" (featuring T-Pain) (5,627,000), "In The Ayer" (featuring will.i.am) (1,894,000).
18. P!nk, Funhouse, 8,640,000. P!nk's fifth album was released in October 2008. Top songs: "So What" (3,937,000), "Sober" (1,860,000).
19. Justin Timberlake, FutureSex/LoveSounds: Deluxe Edition, 8,576,000. Timberlake's second solo album, released in September 2006, was a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year. Top songs: "Sexyback" (featuring Timbaland) (3,468,000), "What Goes Around...Comes Around" (1,992,000), "My Love" (featuring T.I.) (1,935,000).
20. Michael Jackson, Thriller 25, 8,525,000. Jackson's classic album, released in December 1982, won the Grammy for Album of the Year for 1983. It was the former child star's second solo album as an adult. Top songs: "Thriller" (2,391,000), "Billie Jean" (1,925,000).
What albums just missed the cut? Here are the top five runners-up: Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster EP (8,470,000), Kanye West's Graduation (8,195,000), West's 808s & Heartbreak (7,886,000), Jason Mraz's We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. (7,736,000), and Britney Spears' Circus (7,721,000).
I didn't include greatest hits albums because they'd have an unfair advantage. Here are two high-profile examples. The tracks on the double-disk The Essential Michael Jackson have sold 15,842,000 copies. The tracks on Eminem's Curtain Call: The Hits have sold 12,383,000 copies.