Ask Billboard

Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about Massive Attack, British acts and Janet Jackson.


Hi Keith,

Hi Keith

As you probably know Massive Attack is not only a very important group in the sense of artistic ability but are also quite commercially successful in Europe (especially in the United Kingdom where their album "Mezzanine" shifted more than a million copies). I was just wondering how many units they had sold in the United States during the Nielsen SoundScan era.


Marcus Keatinge

Hello Marcus,

Massive Attack's third Virgin album, 1998's "Mezzanine," has sold 453,000 units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It is by far the act's biggest selling set in America.

The group's 2003 set "100th Window" has moved 148,000 units Stateside, while 1994's "Protection" has shifted 270,000 and the group's 1991 debut, "Blue Lines," has sold 236,000.

In the U.K., Massive Attack recently released the soundtrack to the Luc Besson film "Danny the Dog." The film, which stars Jet Li and Morgan Freeman, will be titled "Unleashed" in the United States, where it has not yet been released.


Hi Keith,

Could you post a list of the highest selling British rock albums all time? For example, I know that Def Leppard's "Pyromania" and "Hysteria" are way up on that list but I don't know exactly where to date. I know that they are both diamond albums in the United States but where do they rank with other big British rock bands such as the Beatles?


Aaron Robbie

Hi Robbie,

Because Nielsen SoundScan's data only dates back to 1991, in order to have a more expansive picture of the biggest selling albums of all time in the United States, we must use figures from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which tracks music shipments to U.S. retailers.

Also, it is important to note that each disc in a multi-disc release is counted by the RIAA. Essentially, that means an album like Pink Floyd's "The Wall" is certified at 23 million units shipped by the RIAA, but because it is a double album, only 11.5 million copies of the title have been shipped.

Per the RIAA, below is a list of the biggest selling British rock albums of all time in America. Depending on how you slice up the data, the top selling British rock album in the U.S. is either "The Wall" or "Led Zeppelin IV."

Pink Floyd, "The Wall" (23 million units shipped - double album)
Led Zeppelin, "Led Zeppelin IV" (22 million)
Fleetwood Mac, "Rumours" (21 million)
The Beatles, "The Beatles" (19 million)
Elton John, "Greatest Hits" (16 million)
The Beatles, "1967-1970" (16 million - double album)
The Beatles, "1962-1966" (15 million - double album)
Pink Floyd, "The Dark Side of the Moon" (15 million)
Led Zeppelin, "Physical Graffiti" (15 million)
The Rolling Stones, "Hot Rocks" (12 million - double album)
Led Zeppelin, "Led Zeppelin II" (12 million)
The Beatles, "Abbey Road" (12 million)
Def Leppard, "Hysteria" (12 million)


Hi Keith,

How well has Janet Jackson's "Damita Jo" CD has sold thus far? Did the album have any Hot 100 hits on it? I have heard that all the singles have fizzled. Is this true?


M. Roberts


"Damita Jo" has sold 942,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 in April.

The disc only spawned two singles that charted on the Hot 100, "Just a Little While" (No. 45) and "I Want You" (No. 57). For a singles artist like Jackson, who has racked up 27 top 10 Hot 100 singles in her career, including 10 No. 1s, this could probably be considered a disappointment.