The 89th Academy Awards

Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' Extends Reign as Highest Certified Album in U.S. History

Kevin Mazur
Doug Morris, Rob Stringer, John Branca, Richard Story, L.A. Reid and Karen Langford.

The seminal 1982 album passes the 33-times platinum mark.

Michael Jackson’s blockbuster album Thriller just keeps on getting bigger. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has certified the set at 33-times platinum in the U.S., extending Thriller’s record as the highest certified album in history.

That means Thriller -- released in 1982 -- has earned 33 million equivalent album units in the U.S. That sum blends traditional album sales (one album sale equals one unit), tracks sold from an album (10 tracks sold equals one unit) and on-demand audio and/or video streams (1,500 streams equals one unit).

A plaque commemorating the milestone was presented at the home of Epic Records chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid over Grammy weekend, where Sony Music CEO Doug Morris, Columbia Records chairman and incoming Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer, Sony president, commercial group Richard Story, attorneys Karen Langford and John Branca toasted the certification.

The RIAA revamped its Gold & Platinum Awards Program on Feb. 1, 2016, growing from a pure album sales certification process to one that includes tracks and streams. That same day, Thriller’s certification was raised from 30 million to 32 million.

Thriller continues to maintain its place as the highest-certified album ever, ahead of EaglesTheir Greatest Hits 1971-1975, with 29 million. (It was last certified on Jan. 30, 2006.)

Thriller was released through Sony Music Entertainment’s Epic Records and spent 37 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The mega-successful set was the first to generate a record seven top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including two No. 1s: “Billie Jean” (No. 1 for seven weeks) and “Beat It” (No. 1 for three weeks). In 2015, Thriller was named the biggest album of all time by a male artist on the Billboard 200 chart, and the No. 3 title overall.

Simultaneous with Thriller’s raised certification, its follow-up, Bad, climbs to 10-times platinum (the RIAA’s Diamond award). Jackson is one of just 22 acts with more than one Diamond-certified album.

Representatives for Sony and Jackson’s estate say that Thriller has sold 105 million copies globally.