Taylor Swift and her album 1989 continued to make history last week as it became only the ninth album to ever spend each of its first 24 weeks in the Top 5 of the Billboard 200. That makes it the country/pop star's most consistent album to date in terms of chart placement. So what other hot acts have gotten to at least 24 weeks? Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and the Backstreet Boys number among them.
07/08 (TIE): Some Gave All by Billy Ray Cyrus and Millennium by The Backstreet Boys (24 weeks)
It's easier for twentysomething listeners of today to appreciate just how huge Miley Cyrus's dad was upon his debut when you compare the Billboard 200 success of his Some Gave All with that of Millennium, the biggest album released by The Backstreet Boys, one of the pillars of the boy-band movement (we'll go ahead and let you know that no other boy band album beat Millennium for weeks in the Top 5). You want a comparison for how big Billy Ray was? Millennium debuted at no. 1 during 1999 and managed to grab 10 non-consecutive weeks at the top spot. We admit, that's no small accomplishment, but we're going to give the tiebreaker between the three 24-week placers thus far to Cyrus: Some Gave All debuted at no. 1 and stayed there for 16 more weeks. That's 17 weeks at no. 1 without anyone interrupting his run. That's the longest run at no. 1 in the Nielsen Soundscan era, and also the longest amount of time for any debut act ever at no. 1. Swift does beat the Backstreet Boys however, with 11 nonconsecutive weeks at no. 1 with 1989. She could pass both acts if she manages to stay in the Top 5 for just one more week however.
06) Hotel California by The Eagles (26 weeks)
Hotel California is considered by nearly all to be the best album by The Eagles, and by many to be among the best albums ever recorded (no. 37 all time, according to Rolling Stone). The only thing better than creating a masterpiece is creating a masterpiece that sells, and The Eagles were successful on this front: The album spent 26 weeks in the Top 5 of the Billboard 200, going on to sell 16 million copies in the United States. It's somewhat interesting and ironic to note that one of the biggest sales successes of the '70s was a concept album about materialism in American society. It's also interesting to note that this wasn't the band's biggest sales smash: Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) is the fifth highest-selling album of all time, moving up to 42 million units altogether (although it spend far fewer weeks amid the Top 5).
05) Ropin' The Wind by Garth Brooks (29 weeks)
One might consider the accomplishments of Billy Ray Cyrus as listed above when considering the most successful (in terms of sales) album in country music history, but Garth Brooks makes an argument for himself with Ropin' The Wind, the smash that he had released less than a year prior to Some Gave All. Brooks and Ropin' The Wind actually trumps Cyrus and Some Gave All for number of weeks at no. 1. Brooks' effort roped 18 total weeks at the peak of the charts although you don't hear about it as much because they weren't consecutive. His release was also more consistent in terms of total sales, not only trumping Cyrus for weeks in the Top 5 (by five weeks) but also for weeks in the Top 10.
04) The Bodyguard Soundtrack (30 weeks)
The soundtrack of The Bodyguard wasn't the first album in history to spend more than 30 weeks in the Top 5 but it did come the closest to not making it, just barely getting to the mark. You don't need us to tell you that although it was listed as a "various artists" affair, everyone was coming to hear Whitney Houston and her smash "I Will Always Love You," which spent 14 weeks at no. 1 on the Hot 100 (which was at that point the most ever). Even if Houston and company come in at no. 4 on this list, they can take solace in knowing that The Bodyguard was the bestselling album featured on this list...and one of the bestselling albums of all time. The compilation is believed to be the third-bestselling album of all time—placing after only Michael Jackson's Thriller and Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of The Moon—with more than 44 million copies sold.
03) Songs in The Key of Life by Stevie Wonder (32 weeks)
He might be no. 3 overall for the time being, but Stevie Wonder held the record for the longest time in the Top 5 for 11 years before any other performer caught him. It's appropriate, as many consider Songs in The Key of Life to be the pianist's greatest album (although, unlike The Eagles and Hotel California, he has many more potential nominees). It's interesting to note that Wonder also had quite a run at no. 1, spending the first 13 weeks of release in the top spot. The album to finally dethrone Songs? The Eagles' Hotel California. The drop off in sales came relatively quick and hard compared to the rest of the albums on this list however: Although Songs in The Key of Life spent its first 32 weeks within the Top 5, it would only spend three more weeks within the Top 10.
02) Bad by Michael Jackson (38 weeks)
The performer to end Wonder's 11-year run with the record? None other than Michael Jackson. Although everyone knows that Thriller is Jackson's—and the music world's—high point for total sales, it's interesting to note that Bad, the album he released five years later, had the longer run among the Top 5 of the Billboard 200. Of further interest, despite the hype that surrounded the follow-up to the now bestselling album of all time, Bad "only" managed to spend six weeks at no. 1. That sort of thing led some in the press to label Bad as a "failure," which only goes to prove that when you create the bestselling album of all time, just retire because it will be impossible to meet anyone's expectations ever again. For those wondering: Bad has been certified nine-times platinum in the United States by the RIAA, and its 38 weeks in the Top 5 would be the best all time for another 24 years.
01) 21 by Adele (39 weeks)
The more astute among you have probably noticed that every qualifying record on the list so far was released prior to the 21st Century, and have perhaps made a mental connection between that fact and the continuing downward trend of album sales. It's certainly an argument worth making but in truth the album with the longest Top 5 streak in history was released after 2010: Adele's 21. The 2011 behemoth of an album does less to provide a counterpoint to the decrease in overall record sales than it does to promote itself as a great record that millions wanted to own—after all, 21 is the bestselling digital album of all time, with more than 2 million mp3 copies moved. The vocalist spent her first 23 weeks in the Top 3 before spending another 16 in the Top 5 to just nip Jackson for the all-time record. One has to wonder if she feels any disappointment in knowing that she came up that short of becoming the first performer ever to stay in the region for 40 weeks.