Which Country Has The Worst Taste In Music?

Senior Pop Culture Editor
05.07.12 11 Comments

Last week, Adele’s 21, which has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide since being released in January last year, leapfrogged Michael Jackson’s Thriller to become the fifth selling album in U.K. history. You would have thought every daughter without a better idea would have bought her mom the record for last year’s Mother’s Day, but I guess not.

The U.K. all-time album sales now look like this: Queen’s Greatest Hits, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, ABBA’s Gold: Greatest Hits, Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, and Adele’s 21, a rather respectful top-five. But where does it rank against the best selling albums in other countries?

I took a look at the highest sellers for 10 countries, including the U.S., and ranked them from best taste in music to worst. Get ready to hate France even more than you already do.

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Greatest Hits by Queen (5x million)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles (5x million)
Gold: Greatest Hits by ABBA (4x million)
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis (4x million)
21 by Adele (4x million)

Not a single dud in the bunch. They really like Oasis in the land of bad teeth and telly.

First Love by Hikaru Utada (7x million)
B’z The Best “Pleasure” by B’z (5x million)
Review by Glay (4x million)
Distance by Hikaru Utada (4x million)
B’z The Best “Treasure” by B’z (4x million)

B’z, who play a synth-heavy combination of hard rock and pop, aren’t a household name in America, but they’re HUGE in Japan. Even bigger than that Tom Waits song. They’ve released 46 straight #1 hits and have sold more than 80 million albums — just in Japan. As for Hikaru Utada, she’s best known in the West for her contribution to the Kingdom Hearts video game soundtrack, “Hikari,” or as its known here, “Simple and Clean.”

Thriller by Michael Jackson (29x million)
Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) by the Eagles (29x million)
Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin (23x million)
The Wall by Pink Floyd (23x million)
Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II by Billy Joel (23x million)

U-S-A U-S-A U-S-A really loves Michael Jackson, soft rock, and the British.

Whispering Jack by John Farnham (1x million)
Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf (1x million)
The Best of ABBA by ABBA (1x million)
Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits (1x million)
Thriller by Michael Jackson (1x million)

Between John Farnham and Meat Loaf, Australians have a kangaroo-sized boner for bloated operatic singers. And, um, Dire Straits.

Still holds up. (Via)

Mensch by Herbert Grönemeyer (3x million)
…But Seriously by Phil Collins (3x million)
Bochum by Herbert Grönemeyer (2x million)
ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits by ABBA (2x million)
Tracy Chapman by Tracy Chapman (2x million)

But seriously, why do the Germans love Phil Collins so much? Are they compensating for being a terrifying culture by listening to soft rock, or is there a secret message in Collins’ music that only Germans can understand? Oh sh*t: Phil Collins is going to kill us all.

Come On Over by Shania Twain (2x million)
Let’s Talk About Love by Celine Dion (1x million)
Big Shiny Tunes 2 by Various Artists (1x million)
Romanza by Andrea Bocelli (1x million)
1 by the Beatles (1x million)

No amount of Beatles albums can make up for a one-two of Shania Twain and Celine Dion.

Thriller by Michael Jackson (3x million)
Músicas para Louvar ao Senhor by Father Marcelo Rossi (3x million)
Xou da Xuxa 3 by Xuxa (3x million)
Leandro & Leonardo (Pense em Mim) by Leandro & Leonardo (3x million)
Só pra Contrariar (Depois do Prazer) by Só Pra Contrariar (2x million)

Father Marcelo Rossi is a priest who uses music to get his message across. He’s massively popular in Brazil, though not as much as Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which appears in the top-ten highest selling albums for pretty much every country on the globe.

D’eux by Celine Dion (4x million)
Samedi soir sur la terre by Francis Cabrel (3x million)
Breakfast in America by Supertramp (3x million)
Alors Regarde by Patrick Bruel (2x million)
The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd (2x million)

It’s “logical” that France would love Celine Dion, but British poppy prog-rock group Supertramp, whose biggest hit was an album called Breakfast in America? That I don’t get. And if you’ve never heard of Francis Cabrel, check out his oddly detailed Wikipedia page, which includes such tidbits as, “By now Francis Cabrel had become one of the most popular recording stars on the French music scene and his life was one busy whirl of TV and radio interviews, autograph signing, and promotion.” I enjoy when Wikipedia entries include phrases like, “One busy whirl.” Makes learning fun.

Christmas in Our Hearts by Jose Mari Chan (800,000)
Constant Change by Jose Mari Chan (800,000)
Westlife by Westlife (500,000)
Cutterpillow by Eraserheads (400,000)
Jaya by Jaya (360,000)

Ugh, Christmas.

The Goodbye Kiss by Jacky Cheung (1x million)
Bad Boy by A-mei (1x million)
True Love by Jacky Cheung (1x million)
The Words After Drunk by Jody Chiang (1x million)
Titanic by James Horner (1x million)

The top-four are so bland and overproduced and maudlin that they’re easier to ignore than hate, and then you get to the Titanic soundtrack, which includes not only “My Heart Will Go On,” but also such high-school-poetry score titles as “Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave” and “An Ocean of Memories.” That’s as deep as…the ocean.


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