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Ask Billboard: One Direction’s Career Sales

A rundown of 1D's best-selling albums & songs, albums with the most top 10 longevity & a Max Martin tribute.

Submit questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, tweet @gthot20


@gthot20 Hi Gary, can you add up the U.S. sales of One Direction in your next #AskBillboard? Thank you!


Here you go, Directioners! The boy band’s U.S. album sales and best-selling songs, according to Nielsen Music:

2,095,000, Up All Night (2012)
2,043,000, Take Me Home (2012)
1,552,000, Midnight Memories (2013)
1,064,000, Four (2014)
853,000, Made in the A.M. (2015)
17,000, iTunes Festival: London 2012 EP (2012)

One Direction has sold 7.6 million total albums in the U.S.

And …

Best-Selling Songs
4,888,000, “What Makes You Beautiful”
2,860,000, “Story of My Life”
1,637,000, “One Thing”
1,383,000, “Live While We’re Young”
1,275,000, “Best Song Ever”
1,208,000, “Drag Me Down”
1,138,000, “Little Things”
1,010,000, “Night Changes”
959,000, “Kiss You”
817,000, “Perfect”

Following the March 2015 departure of Zayn Malik and the release of Made in the A.M. in December, One Direction’s future appears undecided. “I don’t know if it’s a hiatus or a breakup, to be honest,” 1D mentor/creator Simon Cowell said in his April Billboard cover story.

“In a weird way, I don’t want to know. I don’t think they’ve had enough time to experience what it’s like not being in the group to really answer that.”


Hi Gary,

Keith Caulfield’s recent Billboard 200 chart moves column mentioned that Adele’s album 25 logged its 24th week in the chart’s top 10; her previous album, 21, spent 84 weeks in the region; and the record (since the chart became a combined mono/stereo  survey in 1963), is held by the soundtrack to The Sound of Music: 109 weeks in the top 10.

Very few albums demonstrate that level of high-charting longevity. Can you please run down the albums with the most weeks in the Billboard 200’s top 10?

Jesse Rifkin
Washington, D.C.

Hi Jesse,

Add another week for 25 in the Billboard 200’s top 10, making for an appropriate 25 weeks so far (through the chart dated June 25).

Still, the set has a long ways to go to hit record territory for top 10 longevity. In fact, an elite 20 albums have spent at least a year, 52 weeks, in the Billboard 200’s top tier since 1963. Here’s the list:

Weeks in Top 10, Title, Artist, Peak Year
109, The Sound of Music, soundtrack, 1965
84, 21, Adele, 2011
84, Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen, 1984
78, Hysteria, Def Leppard, 1988
78, Thriller, Michael Jackson, 1983
72, Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette, 1995
71, Doctor Zhivago, soundtrack, 1966
64, Forever Your Girl, Paula Abdul, 1989
61, Falling Into You, Celine Dion, 1996
61, Whipped Cream & Other Delights, Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, 1965
59, 1989, Taylor Swift, 2014
59, Can’t Slow Down, Lionel Richie, 1983
58, Fearless, Taylor Swift, 2008
55, Cracked Rear View, Hootie & the Blowfish, 1995
53, Come On Over, Shania Twain, 1997
52, Wilson Phillips, Wilson Phillips, 1990
52, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, M.C. Hammer, 1990
52, Appetite for Destruction, Guns N’ Roses, 1988
52, Rumours, Fleetwood Mac, 1977
52, Frampton Comes Alive, Peter Frampton, 1976

Three takeaways (and a question):

1, The ranking above somewhat mirrors the Greatest of All Time Billboard 200 chart unveiled last October. The top five on that tally, in order from No. 1 to No. 5: 21, The Sound of Music, Thriller, Fearless and Born in the U.S.A. That reinforces that amassing a large amount of weeks in the top 10 was key to titles securing high placements on the all-time chart.

2, Perhaps unsurprisingly, multiple hit singles can spark longevity for an album in the Billboard 200’s top 10. 21 yielded three Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s; Born in the U.S.A. and Thriller each generated a record seven Hot 100 top 10s; Hysteria boasted six top 20 Hot 100 hits; and, Jagged Little Pill produced six Alternative Songs hits, including three No. 1s and another top 10.

3, Did you notice the only act with two albums on the list above? Thanks to 1989 and Fearless, Taylor Swift is the only artist with two albums that have each spent a year in the Billboard 200’s top 10. 1989 also became just the fifth set to spend its first year in the top 10 (eventually staying in the bracket for its first 53 frames).

Vote: Who Could Replace Drake Atop the Billboard 200?

Looking ahead, is it too early to wonder if Drake’s Views could be a contender to spend at least 52 weeks in the Billboard 200’s top 10? It’s only six weeks old so far, having spent all its time on the chart at No. 1, but given the set’s astronomical record streaming numbers, it should continue to chart high for the foreseeable future.


Hi Gary,

My name is Samuel Lundell. I am a full scholar student at Berklee College of Music and my friends and I made a tribute to Max Martin to celebrate his winning the Polar Music Prize. It contains 27 Martin-written songs, 13 of which became Hot 100 No. 1s!

Hope you like it. It’s a concentrated lesson in the work that Max Martin has done!

Best regards,
Samuel Lundell 

Hi Samuel,

Amazing job! And, not surprising given Berklee’s esteemed reputation.

On Thursday (June 16), Martin was awarded the Polar Music Prize, an international award begun in 1989 by Stig Anderson, known for his role as manager of ABBA. Martin shared the honors with Cecilia Bartoli, as one contemporary and one classical musician receive the award annually.

Max Martin Receives Polar Music Prize: Here’s How He’s Stayed on Top All These Years

Martin’s appearance in Stockholm to accept the prize made for a rare moment in the spotlight for him, as he appears much more content to let his hit songs, including 22 Hot 100 No. 1s, speak for him. As for the mysterious man (aka, Martin Karl Sandberg) behind the songs? “He doesn’t take himself too seriously,” says Adam Lambert, who hit the Hot 100’s top 10 in 2010 with the Martin (and P!nk and Shellback) co-write, “Whataya Want From Me.”

“He’s not an egomaniac. Someone with that kind of success could definitely be arrogant, but he’s not. He’s cool. He’s got a really dry sense of humor, and I think he genuinely loves making music.”

Plus: A Boy Band ‘Expert’ Talks One Direction