All 92 Diamond-Certified Albums Ranked From Worst to Best: Critic’s Take

It’s worth celebrating whenever we get a brand new, RIAA-certified diamond-selling album — indicating sales (and streaming equivalent sales) of ten million units — because for a while, it looked like we might never get another one again. For a half-decade after Usher’s Confessions was released in 2004, no album of new material was released that even got particularly close to diamond status, largely the result of a download-reeling music industry adjusting slowly to the decline of physical media.

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Then, Adele. In 2011, the singer/songwriter’s four-quadrant-appealing 21 was released, sparking sales unseen since the beginning of the millennium. The album stayed on top the Billboard 200 for 24 weeks, and was given the Diamond certification in November of 2012, eventually going 14x platinum. For her next act, Ms. Adkins demolished *NSYNC’s record for first-week sales with her follow-up effort, 25, moving an incomprehensible 3.38 million in its debut frame, according to Nielsen SoundScan. And on Sept. 22, 2016, Adele was awarded her second consecutive diamond plaque, for 25 — less than a year after the album’s release.

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To honor the exclusive club that Adele joined with her latest sales achievement, we’ve ranked every one of the RIAA-certified diamond albums. That’s not counting compilations — including greatest-hits collections, live albums, and certain soundtracks — unless the set is comprised mainly of contemporary material. (The Dirty Dancing soundtrack, for instance, includes seven contemporary songs and five old ones, so it’s in, but Garth Brooks’ The Ultimate Hits — itself certified diamond earlier this week — has only four new songs in 34 tracks, so it’s out.) It’s still a whopping 92 albums, though, ranging nearly 60 years back to Elvis Presley’s Elvis’ Christmas Album.

Read our list here, which now also welcomes REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity and Taylor Swift’s Fearless  — finally certified Diamond on Aug. 17 and Dec. 11 of 2017, respectively — to its ranks. (Each album’s year of release and most-recent platinum certification as of Dec. 2017 is included.)

92. Kenny G, Breathless (1992, 12x Platinum)

Some day, a smooth-jazz scholar will make the rounds informing us about why Kenny G was actually a genre innovator and stealth underground influence, shaming us for all the thoughtless jokes made at his expense over the years. Until then, all we can say about Breathless is that it’s not actively unpleasant to listen to.

91. Nickelback, All the Right Reasons (2005, 10x Platinum)

All the Right Reasons opens with the not-misleadingly titled “Follow You Home,” featuring singer Chad Kroeger’s promise that trying to murder him would merely slow down his stalking efforts, and follows that with “Fight for All the Wrong Reasons,” in which Kroeger testifies that he’d leave his toxic relationship of “favorable slavery” if only his girlfriend would stop going down on him. It gets better from there, but not, like, a lot. Good production, though.

90. Creed, Human Clay (1999, 11x Platinum)

Close, but not quite the nadir of post-grunge alt-rock it’s often made out to be – that’d probably be Weathered, the Creed album after this one. Human Clay at least has some riffs, and “Higher,” a bro hymn as righteous as the sun coming out five minutes before kickoff.

89. Garth Brooks, Sevens (1997, 10x Platinum)

Professional but slightly pandering, down to its definitively C&W magazine-pose of an album cover. “How You Ever Gonna Know” is one of his most pristine pop/rock efforts, though, and kudos to Garth for being the first country megastar to recognize the potential in swagger-jacking Jimmy Buffett (“Two Pina Coladas”), beating Alan Jackson to the punch by a half-decade.

88. Various Artists, Titanic Soundtrack (1997, 11x Platinum)

No better testament to the world-swallowing phenomenon that was Titanic than the score going Diamond: Celine Dion’s signature love theme “My Heart Will Go On” is the only song here not a James Horner instrumental, and you have to wait until the very end to get to it. Kudos to Horner & Co. for not even trying to fudge a “Songs From and Inspired By” collection, but unless you’re really never gonna let go of the late ‘90s, you don’t need this in your life.

87. Matchbox 20, Yourself or Someone Like You (1996, 12x Platinum)

When Matchbox 20 went supernova in the late ‘90s, it was obvious grunge’s moment was officially over, though what it was being replaced with wasn’t totally clear: Rob Thomas wrote pretty good singles, but what exactly they added up to remained ambiguous. “Real World” and “Back 2 Good” feel like personal statements in search of coherent theses, “3AM” is strangely lacking in urgency for a song with its title, and “Push” might be the most narratively confused song about domestic abuse ever released.

86. Celine Dion, Let’s Talk About Love (1997, 10x Platinum)

An expert collection of Adult Contemporary super-competence, its 65-degree placidness is broken only by the mega-ballad you already knew from Titanic and the song where Celine tries her hand at dancehall for some reason. Carl Wilson wrote a great book about it; that and the Bee Gees and Babs duets may be all you really need to take away from this one.

85. Santana, Supernatural (1999, 15x Platinum)

The least-likely blockbuster LP of the TRL era, with a then-52-year-old Carlos Santana riding two Hot 100-topping, big-name-featuring smashes to sales that not even Britney and Backstreet could match. This one isn’t all smiles and Rob Thomases, though: A surprising amount of Supernatural is comprised of the kind of somberly atmospheric noodling found in the worst Pink Floyd albums.

84. Britney Spears. …Baby One More Time (1999, 14x Platinum)

Britney’s chips-half-in debut effort has aged about as well as an album with a Sonny & Cher cover, special guest appearances from Mikey Bassie and Don Phillip, and a climactic slow song called “E-Mail My Heart” could be expected to. But “Crazy” still goes – if not as hard as in its Melissa Joan Hart-approved remix – and we’ll know the aliens come in peace if they make first contact via the title track’s three-note piano hook.

83. MC Hammer, Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em (1990, 10x Platinum)

It takes a village to raise rap’s first-ever Diamond-seller, and to help send his breakout album into eight digits, Hammer enlisted (via sample and interpolation): Rick James, Marvin Gaye, The Chi-Lites, The Jackson 5, Earth, Wind & Fire, Sly & the Family Stone, James Brown (twice) and Prince (three times). Even with all that, the MC’s teaching-and-preaching efforts get mildly tiresome by album’s end, but as the ‘90s would say, it’s a history lesson that makes learning fun — ring the bell, school’s in, sucker.

82. *NSYNC, ‘N Sync (1998, 10x Platinum)

The singles are imprinted on the DNA of anyone who grew up with Carson Daly narrating their late afternoons, even though “Tearin’ Up My Heart” is the only one whose existence anyone actively bothers to remember. The rest is predictably negligible, minus a surprisingly yacht-worthy cover of Christopher Cross’ “Sailing.”

81. Elvis Presley, Elvis’ Christmas Album (1957, 10x Platinum)

A perennial best-seller that ultimately became The King’s only diamond-certified album, Elvis’ Christmas Album generally delivers the combination of fireplace intimacy and profound melancholy you want from the best holiday music, before getting a little gospel-heavy in the last third. “Blue Christmas” is the classic, and as timeless as that other-colored Xmas tune — which Elvis also does here, in a relatively innocuous cover Irving Berlin nonetheless dubbed a “profane parody” of his standard.

80. Backstreet Boys, Backstreet Boys (1997, 14x Platinum)

Kicking off the second (possibly third?) golden age of the boy band in earnest, the five hits on Backstreet’s U.S. debut were likeable enough — the world probably wasn’t ready for the Full Max Martin yet, but lukewarm pop/rock trifles like “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” and “As Long As You Love Me” were already mildly entrancing. The PM Dawn cover shows how relaxed the early part of this era was; a 1998 reissue added frenetic crowd-pleaser “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” and by millennium’s end, most pop songs sounded like they were recorded inside a pinball machine.

79. Various Artists, Dirty Dancing Soundtrack (1987, 11x Platinum)

Established AM classics from a generation earlier awkwardly mingle with polished contemporary pop from the late ‘80s, a mixer that made marginally more sense in the movie than it does on record. When the Ronettes and Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs are butting up against new smashes from Eric Carmen and, yes, Patrick Swayze himself, it works well enough; when it’s over-caffeinated synth-pop from Merry Clayton and Alfie Zappacosta getting in the way of “Hey! Baby” and “Love Is Strange,” less so.

78. Celine Dion, Falling Into You (1996, 11x Platinum)

Gets soggy in the latter half, and covers of “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman” and “River Deep, Mountain High” can’t help coming off a little stilted. Her “All By Myself” redo fares far better, though, “Seduces Me” is as sensual as it should be, and “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” reaches heights of Jim Steinman-conducted melodrama that even Meat Loaf would only scale with extreme trepidation.

77. OutKast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003, 11x Platinum)

A diamond-selling double-album that won both the Album of the Year Grammy and the Pazz & Jop critics poll, and boasts one of the most popular songs of all-time… but does anyone actually still listen to it? OutKast empirically proved they were more than the sum of their parts by segregating the contributions of Big Boi and Andre 3000 to their own discs, and while the results were rapturously received at the time, S/TLB’s rep sags farther every year since, as fans realize how critical the balance and interplay the duo provided one another was to their overall alchemy.

76. Garth Brooks, Ropin’ the Wind (1991, 14x Platinum)

“Must be rebel blood just flowin’ through my veins,” Brooks sings on “Against the Grain,” the opener to his third diamond-selling album in three tries. Maybe not, but Garth’s winning streak was certainly extended here by classics like the blithely sordid “Papa Loved Mama,” the serenely anthemic “The River” and the soaring “Shameless,” which proved Billy Joel really needed to get better advice about his single choices.

75. Backstreet Boys, Millennium (1999, 13x Platinum)

Only four singles were pulled from Millennium, partly because those that were released lasted forever: “I Want It That Way” somehow only peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100, but those of us who lived through it can testify to it being the most popular American song since “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Not many missed hits here anyway: Of the ceaseless ballads that comprise the album’s post-singles portion, only closer “The Perfect Fan” stands out — Backstreet’s very own “A Song for Mama.”

74. Jewel, Pieces of You (1997, 12x Platinum)

Closer to Tori Amos territory than you might remember, as excoriating missives like “Daddy” and the title track (which repeats the word “f—-t” until it can see you physically squirming) are just as vicious and bruised — albeit a tad more clumsy — as anything on Little Earthquakes. What really hurts here are the love songs, though: Breakup lament “You Were Meant for Me” easily justifies its tear-choked vocals, and “Morning Song” makes leaving bed in the a.m. an act of true betrayal.

73. Shania Twain, Up! (2002, 11x Platinum)

Sort of a cheap diamond, since Shania notched double-album sales for a multi-disc set that was really the same album twice, just in “Red” (pop), “Green” (country) and occasionally “Blue” (world/dance) editions. Up! failed to produce the monster U.S. hits that Come On Over tossed off like complimentary mints, and the incongruous self-righteousness of “Ka-Ching!” and “What a Way to Be!” are a strange look for Shania, but weaponized country-pop blasts like “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” and “Nah!” are exuberant enough to earn their Elaine Benes-like exclamation mark usage.

72. Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet (1986, 12x Platinum)

Metal sans metal, far more enamored with Bruce Springsteen than Bruce Dickinson, and much better (and muuuuch more successful) for it. Aside from young-and-restless closer “Wild in the Streets,” not much of the rest stands up to the big singles, but those three are titanic enough that karaoke bartenders are still tearing out the “Bo-” pages from their songbooks for temporary relief three decades later.

71. Hootie and the Blowfish, Cracked Rear View (1994, 16x Platinum)

A solid power-pop album — just one whose genial frat-rock veneer blankets any underlying urgency or desperation. Underestimate “Hannah Jane” at your own peril, and don’t forget the surprisingly powerful black-man-in-the-south lament “Drowning,” proof that Darius & Co. had more on their minds than just baseball caps.

70. Boyz II Men, II (1994, 12x Platinum)

Actually a pretty chill album, until a handful of asteroid-sized power ballads come crashing down to spoil all the vibin’. “I’ll Make Love to You” is the stuff of countless middle-school-dance dreams and nightmares, but “Water Runs Dry” is the one that endures: a slow-burner of such exquisite stillness that the Five Satins would beam with pride.

69. Mariah Carey, Daydream (1995, 10x Platinum)

The “Open Arms” cover is a pretty good call, “Always Be My Baby” is forever (way moreso than “Forever”) and Boyz II Men duet “One Sweet Day” is the ‘90s pop equivalent of Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen swapping guitar solos. But Daydream commits the cardinal sin of following “Fantasy” with 11 songs that are not “Fantasy,” and that we cannot forgive — not even Kanye would try to get away with that shit.

68. Kid Rock, Devil Without a Cause (1999, 11x Platinum)

Regardless of your feelings about young Robert James Ritchie, how many artists can say they were instrumental in the rise of both nu-metal and Auto-Tune? He wasn’t always graceful about it, but Kid Rock innovated almost by accident, effortlessly mixing genres and signifiers that he’d never thought to keep discrete, and occasionally ending up with a tour de force of hybridized id like “Cowboy.”

67. Various Artists, The Lion King Soundtrack (10x Platinum, 1994)

The tunes from the movie itself are undeniable – international pizzazz-pop like “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Hakuna Matata” and sweeping theatrical pieces like “Be Prepared” and “Circle of Life” – and the trio of Elton John versions rightly brought the soundtrack to top 40. Making you sit through four Hans Zimmer instrumentals in between the two sets is pretty low, though.

66. Def Leppard, Pyromania (1983, 10x Platinum)

Making Union Jack short shorts and the phrase “Gunter glieben glauchen globen” inextricable parts of ‘80s pop culture, Pyromania was as dead-on a shot at the American mainstream as the incinerated building on its album cover. Can’t pretend cuts like “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)” and “Billy’s Got a Gun” have aged brilliantly, but the list of pop-metal songs more flawless than “Photograph” doesn’t even need a full hand to count.

65. Britney Spears, Oops!… I Did It Again (2000, 10x Platinum)

Packs the edge Spears’ debut sorely lacked: the title track establishes that not-that-innocent Britney would be taking over from here, “Don’t Let Me Be the Last to Know” proved her capable of post-puppy-love balladry (rightly enduring as a fan and artist favorite), and even the Stones cover is impressively nervy. Doesn’t last the whole way, unfortunately: Once Lucky accepts her Academy Award, feel free to FF through the rest.

64. REO Speedwagon, Hi Infidelity (1980, 10x Platinum)

Strewn with AOR classics, no doubt, but for a band who’s become close to synonymous with overblown stadium rock, you might be surprised by how frisky this set is — whether REO is mixing power pop with Bo Diddley on “Don’t Let Him Go,” or throwing back to the girl group era (with falsetto to match!) on “In Your Letter.” The songs have endured, too: Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias revived the undeniable “Take It on the Run” hook in 2015, the same year that Cigarettes After Sex proved that archetypal power ballad “Keep on Lovin’ You” actually worked better as a dream-pop seduction lullaby.

63. Lionel Richie, Can’t Slow Down (1983, 10x Platinum)

The ex-Commodore’s own mini-Thriller, with five top 10 hits, though a significantly lesser musical reach. Regardless, “All Night Long” is as wedding-classic as they come, “Hello” remains an unkillable ‘80s touchstone even without its famously bizarre video, and the fizzy title track could’ve been a sixth top-tenner if anyone had bothered to release it as a single.

62. Dixie Chicks, Wide Open Spaces (1998, 12x Platinum)

Appropriate to its appellation, The Dixie Chicks’ major-label debut — and first album with the fiery Natalie Maines at the forefront — sounds like the universe opening up to the trio’s expansive brand of tinderbox country. “I’ll Take Care of You” has nothing to do with Drake or Gil Scott-Heron but lends the same tenderness, “Tonight the Heartache’s on Me” manages to export a ska skank to a honky-tonk throwdown, and the title track still sounds like the last scene of Six Feet Under, minus all the death.

61. *NSYNC, No Strings Attached (2000, 11x Platinum)

A major leap forward from the boy band’s self-titled debut, leading with a pair of instant-K.O. singles that raised the bar for all of Orlando-based pop music at the turn of the century. The rest is a more mixed bag, with eye-rollers “Digital Get Down” and “Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay)” likely expediting Justin Timberlake’s search for the exit. “It Makes Me Ill” began the venting that’d consume the group on Celebrity, and closer “I Thought She Knew” is a thankfully stripped-down moment of emotional calm and clarity.

60. Norah Jones, Come Away With Me (2002, 10x Platinum)

Jazzy enough to be released on Blue Note records, Come Away With Me hardly fits the usual bill as a Diamond album, but became enough of a sensation for its smooth sailing that it swept the Grammys and sold eight digits. Fourteen years later, it’s hard to imagine many of those customers having their lives changed by the album, but equally tough to picture many regretting the purchase — even Jones’ cover of Hank Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart” feels like a ticket to the tropics.

59. Phil Collins, No Jacket Required (1985, 12x Platinum)

If not the least-likely megastar of MTV’s first decade then certainly the baldest, Phil Collins had perfected his brand of turbo-pop by 1985, leading to his most successful album with or without Genesis. “Sussudio” and “Who Said I Would” sound like they’re from a Motown record sped up to 45 RPM, while “Take Me Home” is a power ballad as inspired by Casio drum auto-play – pop classicism for ‘80s attention spans that may have sounded natural at the time, but seems intriguingly alien three decades later.

58. Mariah Carey, Music Box (1993, 10x Platinum)

Like most ‘90s Mariah albums, there’s one narcotic pop single and one world-beating power ballad – though in the case of Music Box, “Hero” was cast in the latter role when it actually should’ve gone to “Anytime You Need a Friend.” The deep cuts here are better than on Daydream, with a couple C+C-produced bangers: “Now That I Know,” a skronking jam that should’ve been a club-killer and “I’ve Been Thinking About You,” a frisky dance-pop wink that one-ups Londonbeat.

57. Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory (2000, 11x Platinum)

For all the skeptics who view Linkin Park as a bunch of whiny, repetitive, dull, uncreative mooks: No, you’re thinking of every other popular band from that time. LP were guilty of the first two, but not the last three — few bands of any genre put as much care into their songcraft and soundscapes, resulting in spellbindingly Reznorian productions like “Papercut,” “Points of Authority” and “In the End,” the “Bad Vibrations” of the early ‘00s.

56. Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell (1977, 14x Platinum)

A stirred-up cauldron of Wagner, Spector and Andrew Lloyd Webber whose brew was potent enough to make an overweight, overzealous theater kid a rock god for at least one album. Meat Loaf and songwriter Jim Steinman were smart to keep it to seven mini-epics — even at 46 minutes, the thing risks being laughably overwhelming — but “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth” and the title track are all still recommended for stretching your dollar as far as it’ll go at the bar jukebox.

55. ZZ Top, Eliminator (1983, 10x Platinum)

Largely thanks to a combination of beards (theirs), legs (not theirs) and “Legs” (definitely theirs), ZZ Top underwent the most successful MTV makeover of the early ‘80s, reinvented as a sleek new-wave killing machine and selling more than ever. To be honest, Eliminator could’ve gotten most of the way there even without the videos — their brand of synth-rock was a shockingly natural, alluring hybrid that made TV Dinners sound seductive and even turned the trio’s friggin’ car into a sex symbol.

54. Adele, 25 (2015, 11x Platinum)

25 managed to put up Wilt Chamberlain numbers in a depressed sales era mostly by giving the people what they wanted: Big ballads based around Adele’s generational pipes and down-to-earth glamour. “Hello” is as successful a comeback single as pop has managed this decade, and Max Martin collab “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” offered hope of a more spritely direction for her grand drama, though 25 leaves it as something of a tease, instead submerging in a stately sorrow until the show-stopping climax of “All I Ask.”

53. Various Artists, The Bodyguard Soundtrack (1992, 18x Platinum)

Bump up about 25 spots if you see fit to cut this one off at the end of Whitney’s all-classic A-side, but sadly, the back end weighs this down with less-enjoyably overwrought Joe Cocker balladry and two (!!) Kenny G songs. The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. track is fun post-P.M. Dawn hip(pie)-hop, though, and can’t be mad that the inclusion of Curtis Stigers’ “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” cover ensures that Nick Lowe eats for life.

52. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (I) (1969, 10x Platinum)

The blown-out blues covers are hardly as essential as early Zeppelin got, but the mind-melting “Dazed & Confused” and road-tripping “Good Times Bad Times” were close, while acoustic instrumental “Black Mountain Side’ and closing extendo-jam “How Many More Times” pointed towards how much more the band would soon have to offer. A staggering amount of the next 40 years of rock music can be traced back here in some way.

51. Nelly, Country Grammar (2000, 10x Platinum)

At the onset of the 21st century, Nelly shook up the map of American hip-hop until its center finally landed in the country’s actual center – and he did it wearing a St. Louis Blues hat. Country Grammar was indeed the hot shit, a whooping set of homespun bangers that crossed over without needing to try that hard — only closer “Luven Me” points the way to the sappiness the St. Lunatic would eventually resort to — instead banking on its leading man’s affability, and some of rap’s most undeniable chorus hooks since Naughty By Nature.

50. Usher, Confessions (2004, 10x Platinum)

Unjustly overshadowed in the public memory by fellow triple-threat Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, an album that sold less and had fewer No. 1s. FS/LS gets the edge just for the superbad sonic coherence offered by Timbaland and Danja doing his full album, but JT was always too perfectly-coiffed to match Usher’s rawness in emotional live-wires like “Throwback” or “Confessions, Pt. 2,” and he never had a Big Three team-up as star-powered as the ’11 Miami Heat-worthy crunk anthem “Yeah!”

49. Garth Brooks, Garth Brooks (1989, 10x Platinum)

Good as Garth’s first LP is, you wouldn’t likely have predicted the seven diamond albums to follow from it – a clever, unassuming debut from a performer who sees himself falling somewhere between Dave Loggins and Chris LeDoux, and who seems strangely fatalistic (“If Tomorrow Never Comes,” “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”) for a dude about to take over the world. He does leave us one clue: closer and eternal heartstring-tugger “The Dance,” which goes ten rounds with Diane Warren while maintaining an unlikely grace.

48. Billy Joel, The Stranger (1977, 10x Platinum)

Call it Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Vol. 0.5 — you have to get to the second side, maybe all the way to the penultimate track, to reach a song you won’t already know by heart just by living in the world. That’s fine: Joel’s McCartney-as-Lennon songcraft is strong and familiar enough that hearing about the sagas of Anthony and Mama Leone or Brenda and Eddy for the millionth time is as comforting as hearing an uncle tell a joke the entire room already knows the punchline to.

47. Pearl Jam, Ten (1991, 13x Platinum)

Ten was the sound of a grunge-era Seattle band that actually wanted to still be around a quarter-century later, and was willing to create the songs to merit such longevity. “Alive” and “Even Flow” snuck complex personal and social issues into chest-beaters that instantly earned the band their stadium stripes, and the brutal “Black” is an anti-lighter-waver, a “Tuesday’s Gone” for when you’re absolutely crippled by Wednesday.

46. Shania Twain, The Woman In Me (1994, 12x Platinum)

Impressive that Come On Over essentially reduced this to album-before-the-album status, considering how massive this was: Four country number-ones, including her first Top 40 hit crossover, the stadium-rocking reverse-double-standard anthem “Any Man of Mine.” Smart, seductive, and impressively worldly – the title track’s video was even shot in Egypt — the whole thing sounds like a million bucks; if only its younger sibling hadn’t sounded like half a billion.

45. Eagles, Hotel California (1976, 16x Platinum)

The least fun that becoming the biggest band in the world has ever sounded, a mess of existential banality, contorted metaphors and vaguely hellish riffs. There’s a reason it sold enough copies to bridge the Atlantic, though: No other band ever made emptiness sound as much like an essential part of the human condition, and certainly no band did it with dueling guitars and Mexican stand-off harmonies like these.

44. Dixie Chicks, Fly (1999, 10x Platinum)

Somehow both tighter and looser than Wide Open Spaces, 1999’s Fly packs a supergroup’s worth of fun into the trio’s sophomore effort, so much so that even the song about domestic abuse and mariticidal vengeance was a rollicking corker (and the biggest single). Surprisingly, it was the less-murdery “Sin Wagon” that inspired the first of the group’s many showdowns with country radio over its “mattress dancing” lyric; undoubtedly, DJs were just salty they didn’t think of the phrase first.

43. No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom (10x Platinum, 1996)

The national introduction of spunk-punk superstar Gwen Stefani could do with 10 percent less bloat and 20 percent less self-seriousness, certainly. But the diversity of singles predicts the later musical twists and turns band and singer would take in their careers: “Just a Girl” is the Alternative Nation’s own “Kids in America,” “Spiderwebs” nudged the mainstream ever closer to embracing a ska revival, and “Don’t Speak” could’ve been a Peter Cetera power ballad a decade earlier.