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Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' Becomes First 30-Times Multi-Platinum Album

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

All right, we're going to go from smalltime buskers in Malaysia to the best-selling album of all time.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We won't keep you guessing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL JACKSON SONG, "THRILLER")

SHAPIRO: Michael Jackson's "Thriller" - obviously. But here's why we're talking about it today.

LIZ KENNEDY: It became the first album to hit the 30-times multiplatinum threshold in nearly 58 years of gold and platinum awards.

CORNISH: That's Liz Kennedy of the Recording Industry Association of America. The trade organization certifies gold and platinum awards. Now, a record that goes gold sells half a million copies. Going platinum means you sold a million. So that means "Thriller" has sold more than 30 million copies in the U.S.

SHAPIRO: Michael Jackson made "Thriller" back in 1982 when he was just 24 years old. It came out on cassette tape, vinyl and a new technology at the time - the compact disk.

CORNISH: So what kind of competition does the best-selling album of all time have? Or put it another way - what album has the potential to...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEAT IT")

MICHAEL JACKSON: (Singing) Beat it, beat it, not one likes to be defeated...

SHAPIRO: Well, the nearest challenger right now is a greatest hits album by the Eagles. That has sold more than 29 million copies. But there may be a limit to how many copies that band may be able to sell, which was really just a way to queue up...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT")

EAGLES: (Singing) Take it to the limit, take it to the limit, take it to the limit one more time. Take it to the limit, take it to the limit, take it to the limit one more time. Take it to the limit... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.