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* compilation *

Recorded: 1979-2003
Released: Nov. 17, 2003

Rating: 4.267 (average of 12 ratings)

Genre: dance pop/ R&B

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
  2. Rock with You
  3. Billie Jean
  4. Beat It
  5. Thriller
  6. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You [w/ Siedah Garrett]
  7. Bad
  8. Smooth Criminal
  9. The Way You Make Me Feel
  10. Man in the Mirror
  11. Dirty Diana
  12. Black or White
  13. You Are Not Alone
  14. Earth Song
  15. You Rock My World
  16. Break of Dawn
  17. One More Chance
  18. Ben [live]

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only 3.77
sales in U.K. only - estimated 1.8
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. 3.0
sales worldwide - estimated 11.0


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 1 6*
peak on U.K. album chart 1 2

* see Notes

Singles/Hit Songs: *

  • Ben * (8/5/72) #1 US, #7 UK, #5 RB, #3 AC
  • Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (7/28/79) #1 US, #3 UK, #1 RB, sales: 1 m
  • Rock with You (11/3/79) #1 US, #7 UK, #1 RB, sales: 1 m
  • Billie Jean (1/22/83) #1 US, #1 RB, #9 AC, #1 UK, sales: 2 m
  • Beat It (2/26/83) #1 US, #1 RB, #14 AR, #3 UK, sales: 2 m
  • Thriller (11/19/83) #4 US, #3 RB, #24 AC, #42 AR, #10 UK, sales; 1 m
  • I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (8/8/87) #1 US, #1 UK, #1 RB, #1 AC, sales: 1 m
  • Bad (9/19/87) #1 US, #3 UK, #1 RB, #33 AC
  • The Way You Make Me Feel (11/21/87) #1 US, #3 UK, #1 RB, #9 AC, airplay: 1 m
  • Man in the Mirror (2/6/88) #1 US, #2 UK, #1 RB, #2 AC
  • Dirty Diana (5/7/88) #1 US, #4 UK, #2a RB
  • Smooth Criminal (11/12/88) #7 US, #8 UK, #2 RB
  • Black or White (11/23/91) #1 US, #1 UK, #3 RB, #23 AC, sales: 1 m
  • You Are Not Alone (8/12/95) #1 US, #1 UK, #1 RB, #7 AC, sales: 1 m
  • Earth Song (12/9/95) #1 UK
  • You Rock My World (9/8/01) #9a US, #2 UK, #11a RB
  • One More Chance (10/25/03) #83 US, #5 UK, #40 RB
* live version; chart figures are for original studio version

Notes: Number Ones initially peaked at #13 on The Billboard 200 album chart when released in 2003. After Jackson’s death in 2009, the album was the best-selling in the country for six weeks. However, due to Billboard’s rules regarding catalog albums, the album did not rechart on the Billboard 200. It did, however, top the Comprehensive chart, which lists all albums regardless of release date.


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more. American Music Awards – Album of the Year, pop/rock and R&B. Click to go to awards page.

Number Ones

Michael Jackson
Number Ones “was Jackson's first proper compilation album with Sony.” WK In 1995, he released HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I, but “botched [it] by pairing it with a new album of material in a double-disc set.” STE This made it “considerably less attractive for those legions of listeners who want just a single disc of hits” STE

Number Ones “was released in the wake of the 2000 blockbuster Beatles 1, which rewrote the rules of modern-day hits collections from major artists, since it not only contained a generous, representative cross section of hits, it had a specific focus and did gangbuster business. An avalanche of similar-minded compilations by other titans followed, notably Elvis’ 30 #1 Hits and the Rolling Stones’ Forty Licks.” STE

“For some artists, sticking to number one hits isn’t a bad way to make a collection – the Beatles are a perfect example, actually, since even if 1 didn’t contain such seminal items as ‘Strawberry Fields Forever,’ it still offered a full, representative portrait of their career.” STE “Jackson doesn’t fare so well by the number one rule,” even though “the number-one rule was extended besides the UK/US-restricted politics used for the Beatles and Elvis compilations” WK so that Number Ones “included Jackson singles that reportedly reached #1 in charts around the world.” WK

Even so, this collection leaves “behind the number one hit duet ‘Say Say Say’ with Paul McCartney, substituting a 1981 live version of Ben for the original hit, [and] adding Break of Dawn, an Invincible album cut never released as a single.” STE. “There is, of course, the requisite previously unreleased song, the OK slow jam One More Chance.” STE

When it does stick to the rule, it ends up “skew[ed] very heavily toward Bad.” STE Like its predecessor, Thriller, this album generated seven top 10 hits. However, while five cuts from Bad went to #1, it is hard to consider a song like Dirty Diana more pivotal in the MJ catalog than such “defining songs as ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,’ ‘Human Nature,’ ‘PYT (Pretty Young Thing),’ and ‘The Girl Is Mine,’” STE all top 10 hits from Thriller. After all, that album “changed the business, inaugurating the era of the blockbuster album that rode the charts for years, spinning off hit singles every quarter.” STE

Similarly, “the brilliant Off the Wall [the predecessor to Thriller] is granted only two songs, leaving behind such charting hits as ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘She’s Out of My Life’ (both gold singles, mind you)… These two albums are the core of Jackson's legacy, and it simply feels wrong that Number Ones gives them short shrift.” STEDangerous also is neglected, providing just one selection, when on the whole it had far more memorable songs than HIStory or Invincible.” STE

“But these problems are inherent with any collection that concentrates just on the charts, not the music that got the songs on the charts in the first place. And while Number Ones contains enough of the big songs to recommend it for those listeners who are looking just for a cross section of the biggest hits from Jackson's career, it is also true that the perfect Michael Jackson hits collection has yet to be assembled. Maybe next time, particularly if he’s granted an entry into Sony’s generally excellent The Essentials series.” STE

It should be noted that the hits portion of the HIStory album was re-released in 2001 as a single CD. When comparing it to Number Ones, it fixes some of the flaws noted above. HIStory “comprised fifteen singles (fourteen of them Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 hits) – three from Off the Wall, five from Thriller, four from Bad and three from Dangerous,” WK so it was a more balanced look at MJ’s solo output from 1979 to 1993. Additionally, “the versions of those songs were included exactly as they appeared on the original albums, whereas Number Ones included radio edits and single versions.” WK Of course, the Number Ones collection adds on another decade’s worth of work, but much of pales compared to classic MJ.

Regardless of its imperfections, “Number Ones was successful around the world, originally reaching #1 in the UK and #13 in the United States. It proved to be an enduring catalog seller, eventually returning to the top spot in the UK and US charts in 2009 after Jackson’s sudden death. It stayed as the number one selling album in the United States for six non consecutive weeks.” WK, making it “the best-selling album of 2009 in the United States.” WK However, “as a ‘catalog’ title, Number Ones was excluded from the Billboard 200 denying Jackson a seventh solo No.1 album on the chart. The rules preventing titles older than 18 months to chart in the Billboard 200 were subsequently changed in the fall of 2009 due to the posthumous success of Jackson and The Beatles re-mastered re-releases.” WK

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Links:

previous studio album: Invincible (2001) Michael Jackson’s DMDB page


One More Chance

Want more MJ videos? Check out these individual album pages
for more video posts:

Off the Wall (1979) Thriller (1982) Bad (1987) Dangerous (1991) HIStory (1995) Invincible (2001)

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Last updated August 29, 2010.