Moving records off the shelves isn’t the be-all and end-all of what makes an artist successful. But it sure does help… just ask Carrie Underwood.
For almost 70 years, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been tracking domestic album sales with their glistening designations: Gold (500,000 units), Platinum (1 million units), Multi-Platinum (2 million units and more), and Diamond (10 million units and more).
We’re breaking down the Top 20 Best-Selling Country Artists of All Time in 20 installments. Sure, there’s going to be a bit of cross-genre appeal when we talk about some of these movers and shakers, but they’ve all got country roots—or branches. So don’t be giving us any flak about John Denver, newjack.
Let’s get going.
No. 20: Carrie Underwood
- 21 Million Units Sold
- 4 Multi-Platinum Albums
- 3 Platinum Albums
Carrie Underwood may be No. 20 right now, but she won’t stay there. Perhaps only one artist in the Top 20 has a bigger upside than Carrie, but you’ll have to wait to see who that is. And at only 37 years of age, Carrie is the second-youngest artist in the Top 20.
She’s going to be making music—and selling it—for a long, long, long time.
Best-Selling Album: ‘Some Hearts’
Since bursting onto the scene in 2005 as the winner of American Idol, Carrie has released seven studio albums and a greatest hits collection. Her 2005 debut album, Some Hearts, has been certified 8X Multi-Platinum for sales in excess of 8 million units. Some Hearts is the sixth best-selling country album of all time. Let that sink in for a second. Only Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift have dropped albums that moved more units. Of course, Garth has four of those.
In addition, Carrie can claim Multi-Platinum albums Carnival Ride (4X), Play On (3X), and Blown Away (3X), as well as Platinum albums Storyteller, Cry Pretty, and Greatest Hits: Decade #1.
To think, it all started with a little audition on American Idol.
Best-Selling Single: ‘Before He Cheats’
Carrie’s “Before He Cheats” has been certified 6X Multi-Platinum for moving more than 6 million units. Penned by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins, “Before He Cheats” is featured on Some Hearts. The tune reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and took home more blue ribbons than Miss Clara’s pickles at the county fair, including Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song.
In addition, Carrie has released more than 20 Multi-Platinum or Platinum singles, including “Blown Away” (4X), “Jesus, Take the Wheel” (3X), “Cowboy Casanova” (3X), and more.
Carrie’s “Before He Cheats” did more for Louisville Sluggers than the Sultan of Swat.
In Defense of Carrie Underwood
In the words of Stewie Griffin, “I don’t have to defend Carrie Underwood to you . . . she is doing just fine without you.”