We Need to Unpack the Best-Selling Vinyl Records of the Decade

The vinyl revival of the 2010s reminds us that what’s old is still new if you’re young enough.

For years, the news of any vinyl resurgence felt greatly exaggerated, even among the diehard record-buying public. As the ’10s drew to a close, however, the vinyl comeback started to feel real.

The newly released Nielsen Music/MRC Data’s 2019 Year-End Music Report reveals the final vinyl sales numbers of the decade, and there’s a few things that need unpacking.

RELATED: What’s the Big Deal About Record Store Day, Anyway?

Record Store Day is working

The numbers find that that the two RSD events of 2019 resulted in the third, fourth, and fifth best vinyl-sales days in the history of Nielsen measuring such things, which started in 1991. All of the joy and pain that came from waiting in line, hoping to get your hands on a yellow 7-inch copy of Led Zeppelin’s Celebration Day, might not have panned out—but your enthusiasm for record-shopping was infectious.

The Beatles are still number 1 (and number 7) 

The best-selling vinyl album of both 2019 and the entire decade is the same: The Beatles’ Abbey Road. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band comes in at number seven. Is it time to start the “OK Millennial” meme yet?

Kids are still smoking weed and listening to Pink Floyd

The popular rite of passage—along with bong hits, midnight Laserium shows, and dorm room black light posters—lives on. Dark Side of the Moon was the second-best selling vinyl album of the past ten years. I wonder how many came with the OG poster and sticker inserts, though?

Kids are still smoking weed and listening to Bob Marley

See above.

Now that’s what I call a movie soundtrack

With a new generation discovering classic rock, the first Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack was a slam-dunk. Compiling deep cuts and novelty hits into one release, songs like The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” and Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” are relevant all over again. The collection also did big business on another revived format: cassette.

Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey are the new classics 

With the best-selling albums of the decade list being mostly populated by vintage sounds, the two most recent studio efforts on the chart are female artists: Amy Winehouse (Back to Black at number five) and, even newer, Lana Del Rey (Born to Die, number 10).

Rumours will outlive us all 

Fleetwood Mac has become a rite-of-passage act, much like The Beatles and Pink Floyd. The dramatic melodies of Rumours will never cease to fascinate generation after generation of listeners.

Jazz is not dead

Mixed in among the classic rock and pop of the top ten was one genuine jazz classic: Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, home to his signature composition, “So What.” It was the ninth best-selling album of the ’10s.

See the complete list below.

Top 10 Vinyl Albums Of The Decade (Rank, Artist, Title, Sales)

1 Beatles Abbey Road 558,000
2 Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon 376,000
3 Soundtrack Guardians Of The Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 367,000
4 Bob Marley & The Wailers Legend 364,000
5 Amy Winehouse Back To Black 351,000
6 Michael Jackson Thriller 334,0000
7 Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 313,000
8 Fleetwood Mac Rumours 304,000
9 Miles Davis Kind Of Blue 286,000
10 Lana Del Rey Born To Die 283,000


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