The Most Popular Vinyl Records Of All Time
Posted on April 07 2023
What Defines A Popular Record?
People’s music tastes are as diverse as the types of musical genres in existence. But there are a handful of records that have proved to remain highly popular for generations. Read on to learn about some of the most beloved vinyl records ever to have been released.
This brief list of the most popular vinyl records is in no particular order but includes some incredibly well-recorded, well-produced records of the past few decades.
Kate Bush, “The Hounds Of Love”
Many consider Kate Bush’s “The Hounds Of Love” a masterpiece. On it, she utilized new recording techniques of the time, merging electronics with analog, all while staying heavily connected to an emotional narrative. Her work is considered timeless and relevant to this day, which also makes her sound both classic and complex.
This album has two distinct halves, with side A being more pop-oriented, while side B focuses on a more avant-garde conceptual take on songwriting and production. Another testament to the fact this record is one of the top vinyl records of all time is that while the record was released in 1985, the re-release of the single “Running Up That Hill” was used in the recent hit TV show Stranger Things and shot up to over 400 million streams.
Pink Floyd, “Dark Side Of The Moon”
From its iconic album cover to its mesmerizing instrumentation, this is considered one of the most popular records ever made. This album has sold 45 million copies worldwide and spent a remarkable fourteen years on the Billboard charts. Collectors continue to pick up copies of this classic experimental masterpiece, which continues to make it one of the top vinyl records of all time. This record appeals to both the casual listener and the seasoned musician as it explores new dimensions of rock, pop, soul, and funk. It was released on March 1, 1973, and its popularity today is as strong, if not stronger today, than the day it came out.
This record explores the human condition through various subject matter such as greed, mental illness, death, conflict, and the passage of time. Roger Waters’ unique velvet, dulcet voice overlays much of the music completing the atmospheric vibe. For any record collector lucky enough to have an original pressing, they are sure to take extra care of their copy, as its value will only increase over time.
Miles Davis, “Kind Of Blue”
Jazz music and some of the most popular vinyl records go together like hot cocoa and snowy winter nights. Miles Davis is not only one of the most respected jazz artists of the century but also the creator of one of the top vinyl records of all time. The musicianship, tone, arrangements, and overall vibe of “Kind Of Blue” are considered by many to be groundbreaking.
Miles Davis is a master improviser and virtuoso, and his songs reflect the highly complex nature of his musicality. As a person, he was also considered somewhat of an enigma but also revered by his musical peers and fans across the globe. Many record collectors fortunate enough to own a first pressing of this album most likely have a very special place they store this precious recording.
Kendrick Lamar, “Damn”
In 2018, Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize for music. This was the first time in history a non-jazz or classical record won this prestigious global award. This marked a monumental milestone for the genre of hip-hop. This was Kendrick’s fourth record, and it won numerous awards, including the Grammy for Best Rap Album of 2018. But never in the Pulitzer’s 100-year history had such a record ever even been considered. The Pulitzer board called the album “A virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity…capturing the complexity of modern African-American life."
Further, the album went on to go triple platinum and spent almost five years on the Billboard 200 chart. This sophisticated, dynamic record has earned its place in history and is considered by many to be one of the most popular vinyl records of the 2000s and beyond. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the vinyl pressing yet, make sure to do so, as the listening experience is like no other.
The Doors, “The Doors”
The Doors' eponymous debut album pushed new boundaries, bent and opened minds, and discussed universal themes of self-expression. It is considered by many in the rock world to be one of the top vinyl records of all time. It, too, like many of the records on this list, has a timelessness to it that is still relevant to this day. Recently there was a re-issue that includes a clear vinyl copy of the single “Light My Fire.”
Frontman, Jim Morrison, was known for his ultra-emotional performances and outspoken nature, both in and out of the recording studio. His pushback to the status quo was embraced by audiences as they were captivated by his auditory journey of self-discovery. This sound was emblematic of a generation and is why this record is still considered one of the most popular vinyl records ever produced.
Michael Jackson, “Thriller”
This record has been embraced by generation after generation making it not only one of the top vinyl records of all time but also a masterful piece of pop art that has influenced the world. It is still the biggest-selling album of all time, with over 70 million copies sold worldwide. Fans cherish their copies of this record because not only is the production one-of-a-kind, blending funk, pop, rock, soul, and R&B, but because, for many, it marks a special time in their lives.
Michael Jackson also ushered in the era of music videos. As one of the most popular vinyl records, “Thriller” owed a portion of its phenomenal success to the cinematic videos that accompanied each of the singles. Whether it was the hip-thrusting disco moves of “Billie Jean” or the iconic zombie dance of “Thriller,” fans around the globe emulated these moves en mass back in the 80s and still do to this day. This combination has codified MJ’s music and “Thriller” in pop history forever.
Taking Care Of Your Favorite Records
While this is just a sampling of the most popular vinyl records, they are indeed some of the best and most loved. So if you’re inspired to go hunt through a record bin and discover your favorite vinyl to add to this list, go ahead. Just remember to take extra care with our cleaning supplies, so you’ll be able to enjoy them for years to come!