Trivia

Hard

The Best Selling Debut Album In History Belongs To Which Of These Musical Acts?

Boston
Hootie & The Blowfish
Guns N' Roses
The Beatles
The cover artwork for Guns N' Roses' debut album.
Guns N’ Roses/Geffen Records/Vivendi SE

Answer: Guns N’ Roses

Looking at Guns N’ Roses debut album, Appetite for Destruction (1987), through the lens of the present, it’s impossible to think of it as anything but an astounding success. Not only has the album sold over 30 million copies worldwide, but it is widely considered one of the greatest rock and roll albums of all time, packed with hits like “Paradise City”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Mr. Brownstone”, and “Sweet Child o’ Mine”—songs that would go on to become staples of the band’s discography and touring routines.

With all that in mind, it’s surprising to think that the album, what would go on to become the best selling debut album of all time in the U.S. (and remains so), got off to a slow start. The album debuted on the Billboard charts at a straggling #182 and hung out in the background for just shy of a year. It wasn’t until some of the aforementioned songs like “Paradise City” received heavy radio and music video airplay that the album suddenly skyrocketed in popularity and spent four non-consecutive weeks at the top of the charts (and a total of 147 weeks on the Billboard Top 200).

Despite the popularity at the time, the contemporary critical response to the album was mixed and many critics complained that the album was popular simply because it was a flashy sex, drugs, and rock & roll roller coaster ride. In the ensuing decades, however, critical view of the album has shifted significantly and the album is held in very high esteem.

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