Can any­one beat it? Thriller sales hit 30M

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - ARTS & LIFE - By An­thony McCart­ney

LOS AN­GE­LES — Michael Jackson’s Thriller is still scar­ing up sales and giv­ing the King of Pop’s legacy a new mile­stone.

The al­bum has sold 30 mil­lion copies in the United States, making Jackson the first artist to at­tain 30-time mul­ti­plat­inum sta­tus, the Record­ing In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica and Jackson’s es­tate an­nounced this week.

The al­bum has proved even more pop­u­lar over­seas, with a to­tal of 100 mil­lion copies sold world­wide since its 1982 release. It in­cludes some of Jackson’s most rec­og­niz­able hits, in­clud­ing Beat It, Bil­lie Jean, Wanna Be Startin’ Some­thin and the ti­tle track, which in­spired one of the most fa­mous mu­sic videos of all time.

Thriller con­tin­ues to be the yard­stick against which all other albums are mea­sured,” said John Branca, co-ex­ecu­tor of Jackson’s es­tate.

“What an ex­cep­tional achieve­ment and tes­ta­ment to Thriller’s en­dur­ing spot in our hearts and mu­si­cal history,” RIAA chair­man and CEO Cary Sher­man wrote in a state­ment. The group mon­i­tors mu­sic sales and be­stows gold sta­tus on albums that have sold 500,000 copies and plat­inum sta­tus if they reach one mil­lion sales.

Branca noted that Jackson wrote the al­bum to ap­peal to a broad au­di­ence, which helped fuel its pop­u­lar­ity abroad.

“He didn’t want to sell records to blacks or whites or Amer­i­cans,” Branca said. “He wanted to sell records to ev­ery­one — Africa, Asia, every­where. It’s just con­tin­ued to sell and sell and sell.”

Branca was cau­tious about declar­ing that Jackson and Thriller had set an un­break­able record.

“You can’t say never,” he said, not­ing Adele’s al­bum 21 has sold 11 mil­lion copies in the U.S. since 2011. “No­body saw that com­ing.”

But, he added, “You wouldn’t want to bet that there’s an­other one com­ing along. Not th­ese days.”

A great­est-hits col­lec­tion of songs by the Ea­gles is Jackson’s clos­est com­peti­tor at the mo­ment, with 29 mil­lion albums sold, ac­cord­ing to the RIAA.

Jackson’s mu­sic surged in pop­u­lar­ity af­ter his un­ex­pected death in June 2009 at age 50. His es­tate has re­leased new mu­sic, the film This is It that fea­tures footage of Jackson’s fi­nal re­hearsals for his come­back con­certs and a pair of Cirque du Soleil shows.


Jackson’s mu­sic surged in pop­u­lar­ity af­ter his death in 2009.

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