10 Most-Awarded Albums Of All Time

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If you’re looking for critically-acclaimed records, this list of the most-awarded albums of all time will point you in the right direction.

Music industry awards are a solid indicator of an album’s overall quality, critical success, and potential to stand the test of time. Many of these most-honoured albums are remembered as legendary works.

Grammy award-winning albums in particular are a testament to the excellence of artists who make significant and masterful albums. The ‘Grammys’ are perhaps considered by most as the highest honour in the world of music, and recognise exceptional artistry across a variety of different genres.

When an album claims multiple Grammy awards it is a monumental achievement that highlights the exceptional talent and dedication behind its creation. There are a handful of albums throughout history deemed not only a commercial success by selling millions of copies worldwide, but that have also been numerously awarded for their lasting impact on the music industry and wider culture.

Let’s find out about ten legendary records that became the most-awarded albums of all time.

10. Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970) – Simon and Garfunkel

bridge over troubled water

6 Grammy Awards
25 million sales

American folk rock duo Simon and Garfunkel released their fifth and final studio album Bridge Over Troubled Water in January 1970. The EP is widely regarded as their masterpiece and is often considered amongst the greatest albums of all time. The title track ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ has since become a classic. Other hit songs on its tracklist include ‘The Boxer’ and ‘Cecilia.’

The album highlights Simon and Garfunkel’s diverse musical approach with the duo incorporating elements of gospel, rock, folk and even classical music. Their vocal harmonies provide memorable moments with Garfunkel’s angelic tenor complementing Simon’s distinct voice. Bridge Over Troubled Water was a commercial win, and marvelled by critics as it won six Grammy Awards including Album of the Year. 

9. Back On The Block (1989) – Quincy Jones 

Back On The Block - Quincy Jones 

7 Grammy Awards
1.2 million sales

Back On The Block is a 1989 album by legendary producer and musician Quincy Jones. The album cleverly incorporates a fusion of R&B, hip hop, jazz and pop. Jones collaborated with an innovative range of artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, and Ice-T.

The album’s title track ‘Back On The Block’ is particularly catchy with a chorus that celebrates the contributions of African American musicians to contemporary music. The album’s other notable tracks include ‘Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)’ featuring vocals by Tevin Campbell, and ‘The Secret Garden.’

8. 24K Magic (2016) – Bruno Mars

7 Grammy Awards
4.1 million sales

Following the global phenomenon that was mega single ‘Uptown Funk,’ American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars released his third studio album 24K Magic back in 2016. The EP instantly highlights Mars’ impressive performance level with aspects of R&B, funk and pop all fused together into one spectacular package.

The album’s title track in particular ’24K Magic’ is a real party anthem that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the record. Other standout tracks include smooth R&B jam ‘That’s What I Like’ and slow-burning ballad ‘Versace on the Floor.’ 24K Magic is an infectious album with retro vibes and irresistible hooks which ultimately won Album of the Year at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

7. All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) – U2

7 Grammy Awards
12 million sales

U2’s tenth studio album All That You Can’t Leave Behind marked a return to the band’s simpler sound that focused on themes of growth and spirituality. The EP is fondly remembered for a ream of successful mainstream hits including ‘Beautiful Day,’ ‘Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,’ and ‘Elevation.’

The album received huge critical acclaim, praised for its cohesive and consistent sound, which showcases U2’s musical prowess and Bono’s epic vocal delivery. The record also features contributions from legendary producer Daniel Lanois and frequent collaborator Brian Eno that adds to its sonic depth and emotional drive.

All That You Can’t Leave Behind has been certified multi-platinum in numerous countries and is an enduring legacy to one of the most iconic rock bands of all time.

6. Come Away With Me (2002) – Norah Jones

7 Grammy Awards
27 million sales

Norah Jones’ 2002 debut album Come Away with Me is thought of by many as a modern masterpiece. The album transcends the idea of a single genre and beautifully blends jazz, blues and folk influences. Her work has an elegance and soulfulness whilst feeling both classic and contemporary.

The album’s signature track ‘Don’t Know Why’ became an instant hit and in itself earned Jones multiple Grammy Awards. Other wonderful moments of note include the melancholic ‘Shoot the Moon’ and playful tune ‘Feelin’ the Same Way.’ Jones’ vocals are undoubtedly the album’s centrepiece. Her effortless performance and the record’s emotional depth is simply breathtaking.

5. 21 (2011) – Adele

7 Grammy Awards
31 million sales

21 is the second studio album by English singer-songwriter Adele. Released in 2011, her masterful work was largely adored by critics and a huge commercial success, reaching the top of the charts in several countries and becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time.

The album introduced a host of powerhouse singles to the masses such as ‘Rolling in the Deep,’ ‘Someone Like You,’ and ‘Set Fire to the Rain.’ 21 features an eclectic mix of soul, blues and pop styles – largely inspired by Adele’s experiences of heartbreak, loss, and even forgiveness.

Her honest and often raw lyrical content resonated with millions of listeners around the world and made 21 nothing short of a cultural phenomenon.

4. Genius Loves Company (2004) – Ray Charles

8 Grammy Awards
4.4 million sales

Released in 2004, shortly after his death, Genius Loves Company is Ray Charles’ final posthumous studio album. It features numerous collaborations with a wide range of high profile artists such as B.B. King, Norah Jones, and Elton John.

The album displays Charles’ unparalleled and apparently effortless musical ability. Genius Loves Company was an undoubted success amongst fans and critics alike, winning multiple Grammy Awards including Album of the Year, and also reacheing the top of the Billboard 200 chart.

The record’s tracklist includes a poignant collaboration with Elton John on a version of ‘Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.’ There is also a rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’ which was Charles’ last recorded performance. The album will forever remain a fitting tribute to his musical legacy.

3. Thriller (1982) – Michael Jackson 

michael jackson thriller

8 Grammy Awards
70 million sales

“King of Pop” Michael Jackson released his sixth studio album Thriller in 1982. The album is widely regarded as a pop music masterpiece and went on to become one of the most successful albums of all time, selling over 70 million copies worldwide.

The album combines a diverse range of musical styles from soulful ballads such as ‘Human Nature’ to the high tempo funk of ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.’ Thriller also introduced a handful of cult hit singles to the world including ‘Beat It’ and ‘Billie Jean.’

The record was inducted into the prestigious National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. Its overall lasting impact on popular music and wider culture cannot be overlooked or underestimated.

2. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004) – U2

How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb - U2

9 Grammy Awards
10 million sales

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb by Irish rock band U2 continued the band’s twenty-first century re-exploration of their rock roots with a guitar-driven sound. They also unleashed an array of politically fuelled lyrics that addressed war, terrorism, and social justice. The album’s lead single ‘Vertigo’ became an instant mainstream behemoth with its catchy guitar riff and Bono’s massive vocal performance. 

The album swept up a host of Grammy Awards including Best Rock Album and Song of the Year for ‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own’ which Bono revealed was a heartfelt tribute to his late father. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, with its adventurous themes and explosive sound, cemented U2’s reputation as one of the most accomplished rock bands of all time.

1. Supernatural (1999) – Santana

9 Grammy Awards
25 million sales

Santana’s seventeenth studio offering Supernatural is amongst the most awarded albums of all time, holding the joint record for number of Grammy accolades and selling over 25 million copies in the process. It reached the top of the Billboard 200 chart, also securing Record of the Year and Song of the Year titles too. The album features ambitious collaborations with artists including Eric Clapton and Lauryn Hill. 

Supernatural lead single ‘Smooth,’ featuring Matchbox Twenty’s frontman Rob Thomas on vocals, became a mainstream phenomenon that would dominate radio airplay for large portions of 1999. The album also includes other successful singles such as ‘Maria Maria’ and ‘Put Your Lights On.’

The record’s fusion of Latin rhythms along with its pop-rock influences helped to revive Santana’s career and introduced the band’s work to a new generation of music fans.

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