This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Hitless Hit Album

A very popular album goes gold, platinum, or even double platinum, without containing any hit songs on the singles chart. Songs may appear on genre-specific radio charts, but otherwise the album sells itself.

In The Fifties and The '60s, albums were often perceived as secondary to hit singles. This began to change when groups like The Beatles and The Beach Boys started to produce albums which tried to avoid Album Filler and make every song count. The British Invasion helped, thanks to the then-common practice of excluding hit singles from albums.

The trope came into its own during the predominance of "album-oriented" rock during the 1970s, when albums making a unified musical statement had become more common. Some Hard Rock and Heavy Metal groups active at this time, such as Led Zeppelin, did their best to avoid releasing singles at all. Similarly, while they did manage to score some hits, the most successful Progressive Rock artists active in this period, including Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Yes, were well-known for producing songs which were simply too long to be feasible for release as a single or were much more effective as part of an album.

Also an obvious trend in the career of a Long Runner artist. Consider discography pages on The Other Wiki; album sales are usually consistent or improve with time while hit singles eventually trail off as more airtime is given to new performers.

See also No Hit Wonder.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Alternative Rock 
  • Alabama Shakes' Sound & Color debut at #1 on the albums chart and sold over 700,000 copies. Its highest charting single "Don't Wanna Fight" only peaked at #13 — on the alternative charts.
  • Arcade Fire's 2007 album Neon Bible reached number 2 on the Billboard 200. The Suburbs reached number 1 three years later and won "Album of the Year" at the Grammy Awards. Neither of the two albums had any songs enter the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Despite not having an official single, Radiohead's Kid A was their first album to reach number one on the US Billboard 200, and was also number one in the UK, Canada, France, Ireland and New Zealand. Several songs from the album were sent out as promos to radio stations though, and of these, "Optimistic" received enough radio play to get to number 10 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart.
  • Vampire Weekend has had three Gold albums, two of which debuted atop the Billboard 200, but none of their singles have ever entered the Hot 100.

     Country 
  • Jamey Johnson's The Guitar Song went to #1 on Top Country Albums and was certified gold despite two singles stalling out in the 50s and a third only reaching #39. Before that, he went platinum with That Lonesome Song despite "In Color" being the only hit from it.
  • Pistol Annies, a supergroup comprising Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley, got a #1 with their album Hell on Heels even though country radio never touched the single it got to #55 on the Hot 100 entirely from downloads. Even more impresively, Hell on Heels was a digital-only release until the CD was released in stores a few months later.
  • Aaron Lewis of alt-rock band Staind went country with the single "Country Boy" from the EP Town Line. The song only got to #87 pop and #55 country (although it also got enough downloads to certify gold), but the EP was #1 on Top Country Albums.
  • Extremely common in bluegrass, since it was never really in fashion on country radio. Alison Krauss & Union Station is a prime example, with impressive album sales despite nothing remotely resembling a hit. (In fact, Krauss is tied with Quincy Jones as the artist with the second-highest number of Grammys.)
    • The "Red Dirt" music of Texas is in a similar situation. Many bands and artists spend years, even decades, gaining massive fanbases in Texas, but never strike it big elsewhere. It's to the point where Billboard publishes a separate country singles chart just for Texas.
  • Nearly everything Ray Stevens released for MCA in the late 1980s. Most notably, I Have Returned (1985) was a #1 on Top Country Albums and went gold despite neither of its singles reaching Top 40 in an era where a country album going gold was nearly unheard of due to heavily skewed sales charts.
  • Cledus T. Judd's I Stoled This Record (1996) went gold even though none of its singles charted.
  • Jennifer Nettles' 2014 album That Girl was the Top Country Album for two weeks, despite its lead single barely making Top 40 and its second single not even coming close.
  • The albums released by the stars of the TV series Nashville have mostly been commercially successful, and the singles often get good downloads despite Hayden Panettiere's "Telescope" being literally the only single from the series that got any airplay.
  • This happened to Randy Travis after he switched from country to gospel in the 2000s. Notably, 2003's Worship & Faith (covers of traditional spiritual songs and hymns) went gold without a single being released from it, and 2008's Around the Bend went to #3 on Top Country Albums, his highest showing there since 1991.
  • Most of Lyle Lovett's discography is this. Of his first seven albums, only his self-titled debut the only one to produce a Top 10 country hit is not certified gold. Also, his albums have consistently hit the Top 10 on Top Country Albums since 1996 even though he hasn't charted a single since then.
  • Kenny Chesney has his 2005 disc Be as You Are: Songs from an Old Blue Chair, a Concept Album full of slow, introspective, beachy songs. He deliberately didn't release any singles from it, but it was still #1 on Top Country Albums and went platinum.
  • Kacey Musgraves' second album, Pageant Material, was a #1 on Top Country Albums even though its lead single only got to #41 and second single didn't even chart.

     Hip-Hop/Rap 
  • Bone Thugs-n-Harmony had TWO such albums, Btnhresurrection which went platinum, with little to no video or radio airplay. The second one being The Art of War, quadruple platinum and no official hit song.
  • Wu-Tang Clan: Their first three albums.
  • Childish Gambino's debut studio album, Camp, debuted at number 11, with its singles barely charting. Similarly, his second album because the internet peaked at number 7 while its singles ("3005" and "Crawl") were barely in the top 100.
  • Slick Rick, with the exception of "Behind Bars", never had any of his singles hit the top 100.note  Despite this, three out of his four albums made the top 40 of the Billboard 200.

     Pop 
  • The Beatles are the Trope Maker. In England in the 1960s singles were distinct from albums. Most of the Beatles' big radio hits were released as singles only and did not appear on album tracks. With the Beatles, Beatles for Sale, Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and The Beatles ("The White Album") were all hitless hit albums.
  • Headquarters by The Monkees debuted at #1 (and then sat at #2 for a very long time after Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band came out the next week), despite having no American singles released from it whatsoever, and thus no officially-charting individual songs. "Shades of Gray" and "Randy Scouse Git" have made it as Greatest Hits Album material, though, the latter having been a top-5 single in the UK.
  • Since coming second in Britain's Got Talent, Susan Boyle has enjoyed two albums which have achieved multi-platinum sales worldwide. In America, the first (I Dreamed A Dream) was the best selling album of the year in spite of being released in the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, she didn't get any singles in the Top 40 from either record.
  • All of Norah Jones' albums have gone platinum, and she has won multiple Grammys, but in the USA only one (her Diamond-selling debut album) has spawned anything that could be called a hit ("Don't Know Why", which only scraped the Top 40).
  • Before Stunt, Barenaked Ladies' most popular release in the US was the live album Rock Spectacle. It's still considered one of their best albums, and was rated platinum (over 1 million copies sold) in the United States, but only one song from the album charted at all ("Brian Wilson", at #68).
  • Saint Dominic's Preview by Van Morrison hit #15 in the US in 1972 even though none of its three singles could manage to crawl past #61.
  • Ellie Goulding's second album Halcyon debuted in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200, and achieved Gold status. Its lead single "Anything Could Happen" fizzled out at #47, while its second single "Figure 8" wasn't even released in the US. Its third single "Explosions" entered the Hot 100 peaking at literally only #100. It should be noted though that its Updated Re-release Halcyon Days included "Burn", which went Top 20 in the US.

     Progressive Rock 
  • Rush had a couple of these.
    • A couple sounds about right. 1984's Grace Under Pressure hit #10 on the Billboard 200, though only one single (The Body Electric) charted...at #105. 2007's Snakes and Arrows debuted at #1 on the Billboard Rock and Internet Album charts, though none of the four singles broke the Top 10.
    • 2112 is generally recognized as their "breakout" album. It was their first album to crack the Billboard Top 100 and has gone on to sell over 3 million copies. The kicker is that the album itself became such a success even though all three singles they released from it failed to chart.
    • Overall, 28 Gold or better albums. Only one Top 40 song ever - New World Man which peaked at #21. 13 other singles that did make it on the charts, and 70 that didn't. Though quite a few of those did much better on the rock specific chart.
  • Pink Floyd defines this trope. Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, Wish You Were Here and Animals. All either gold or (multi-)platinum, none have a US top-100 single. For the first half of their career, Roger Waters certainly seemed to prefer it this way; when "Money" became their first significant hit single in America, he quickly became exhausted of hearing the new fans it won the band yelling for them to play it.
  • King Crimson's first two albums, including In the Court of the Crimson King, broke into the Top 5 in Britain, yet the potential hits were either not released as singles (e.g. "21st Century Schizoid Man") or flopped upon release (e.g "Cat Food").
  • Many albums featuring Epic Rocking taken to its extreme (albums with side-length album tracks throughout, or are one (or two) continuous album-length composition(s) interrupted only by album sides like Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play, or Yes' two-record-set Tales From Topographic Oceans, have reached the #1 position on the album charts (or Top 10) with absolutely no commercial considerations, can be considered this.
  • Frank Zappa's albums weren't particularly best sellers, but some albums were well known in certain circles, despite not having any airplay whatsover on the radio or hit singles for that matter. A particular example is Freak Out that got some notoriety with intellectuals, eccentrics and other progressive bands in the 1960s, without having any hit singles. Another example is Hot Rats, which became a huge success in the UK and the Netherlands, again without having any hits released. And Zappa's albums were particularly succesful in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, despite being forbidden or frowned upon by many of the regimes.

     R&B 
  • Janelle Mone's albums have all been on the Top 200 for albums (peaking at 5) but not one of her singles was in the top 200 singles until 2015 (5 years after her debut album) with "Yoga". This is probably because her albums are all Concept Albums and suffer from Critical Dissonance.

     Reggae 
  • Technically Bob Marley is this in the United States. While his albums made it to the top 10, only one or two singles scraped the bottom of the charts. Additionally, much of his album sales occurred after his death in 1981.

     Rock 
  • Marilyn Manson had several albums that were certified either gold or platinum in America, but they've never had a song in the Top 40 and even on the Modern Rock charts they've not had as many hits as other groups with similar popularity. This may be a result of the controversy that they accrued during their peak in the mid-late '90s (especially after the Columbine massacre); radio stations likely didn't want to face boycotts by Moral Guardians for playing "those Satanists" on the air.
  • Led Zeppelin famously refused to release singles from their albums in the UK, and in America (where they're one of five rock bands to have more than one studio album certified Diamond) they had one Top 10 hit ("Whole Lotta Love") and a handful of releases that just about made it into the Top 40. Like a lot of classic rock groups, their popularity was based on very extensive radio airplay before charts to measure that were widespread.
  • Metallica's Master of Puppets did not have any singles released from it, but is one of the most popular and bestselling metal albums ever. (in fact, the band only started to chart with "One", from the following album)
  • In spite of Nine Inch Nails having released 3 multi-platinum albums in the USA, they have had only top 20 single, "The Day The Whole World Went Away", which isn't even one of their more well-known songs.
  • Judas Priest have 11 albums rated Gold or Platinum in the U.S., but only "You've Got Another Thing Coming" charted at #67, also making the band a No Hit Wonder.
  • Colton Dixon reached the top 20 on the Billboard Charts, but his highest single was Never Gone at 113. However, he did reach the top of the Christian Charts with Never Gone
  • Iron Maiden has had an interesting history with this trope. They never got much support from the mainstream, and have only ever had #1 single ever, "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter", which ironically comes from what is often considered their worst album No Prayer For the Dying (at least from people tolerant of the Blaze era). Powerslave and Somewhere in Time we're blazingly popular despite not having any really huge hits (the closest thing to a hit from that era was "Wasted Years"). Fear of the Dark, the 1992 last album before Bruce Dickinson's temporary departure was a huge hit, but there was not a single song that could remotely be considered a hit. Much of the same can be said about their post-2000 tenure, with 2010's The Final Frontier having no hit singles yet debuting at #1 in a whopping 29 countries.
  • Nickelback's seventh studio album, "Here and Now", peaked at #2 on Billboard, but the highest charting song, "When We Stand Together", only peaked at number 49.
  • Five Finger Death Punch's first four albums have gone gold in the USA (with the second through fifth albums peaking in the top 10), yet their only entry in the Hot 100 is 2011's "Under and Over It", a #77 hit. They do, however, have fourteen top 10 hits on the Mainstream Rock charts.
  • Korn more-or-less defines this trope.
    • Their debut album Korn takes it to an extreme. None of its single charted anywhere in the US, yet it went quadruple platinum and sold over ten million copies worldwide. More importantly, it spawned an an entire genre that would later take over the rock music world in the late '90s and early '00s.
    • Life is Peachy debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts and sold over six million copies. Not only did it not produce a charting single on the Hot 100, all of its singles failed to even blip on the rock charts.
    • Follow the Leader produced their first radio hit on rock with "Freak on a Leash", and debuted at #1, selling over 14 million albums worldwide. However, not one song off the album even charted on the Hot 100.
    • Issues became their second album to debut at #1, and sold over 13 million copies. It's sole Hot 100 entry was "Falling Away from Me", which peaked at #99.
    • Overall, they've sold over 40 million records, yet have only managed to scrape one Top 40 song with "Did My Time", and only had six entries on the bottom of the Hot 100. They do however, have numerous hits on rock radio, but in a twist, much of those hits came after their peak in the late-'90s/early-'00s.
  • System of a Down's Toxicity went triple platinum, selling over 15 million copies, but none of the singles (the band's Signature Song "Chop Suey!", the crossover hit "Aerials", or the Title Track "Toxicity") even graced the Top 40 chart. The band's first (and so far only) single to hit the chart was "B.Y.O.B." from Mezmerize/Hypnotize, even though both sides of the double album debuted at #1 months apart.

    Unsorted 
  • Artists with #1 albums on the Billboard 200 but no top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 include Josh Groban, Jill Scott, the Decemberists, Amos Lee, Vampire Weekend, and India.Arie.
  • Fairport Convention's seminal 1969 album "Liege and Lief" effectively invented the British folk-rock movement, although the album peaked at only #17 in the UK and did not contain any breakout singles.
  • Sony's Super Hits albums are sometimes literal examples. Depending on the artist, the title can be Blatant Lies most of them seemingly had their 9 or 10 tracks picked by throwing darts at a list of the artist's songs. For instance, Kenny Chesney's Super Hits disc was released in 2007, but the newest song on it is "What I Need to Do" from 2000. The biggest hit on it is the #2 "Me and You" from 1996, and 2 of the tracks weren't even singles.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic was destined to have a few examples, considering he's had six platinum and three gold albums while having only three top 40 hits in the US. The crowning example would be 1999's Running With Scissors for going platinum and not having anything chart in the top 100.
  • Nearly any Christmas release by a mainstream artist will be a commercial success despite poor chart showing. This is because of the seasonal nature of Christmas single releases, which don't really get enough of a window of time to scale the charts (with the occasional exception on the Adult Contemporary charts, where some Christmas releases even manage to get to #1).

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