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Hitless Hit Album

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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 '50s and early '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.


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    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.
  • Tame Impala's 2015 album Currents debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 and eventually went platinum, a rare achievement for an album from The New '10s that got minimal airplay, even on the alternative stations (though "The Less I Know the Better" became a hit four years on TikTok).
  • 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.

     Children's Music 
  • The Barney & Friends album Barney's Favorites, Volume 1, which was in the top 5 children's albums on Billboard's Kid Audio chart for 5 years, went triple platinum in 1998, selling over 3 million copies.

  • 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 impressively, 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. This was due in part to heavy music video rotation on CMT.
  • 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 has had three different albums do this, largely because of her Periphery Demographic and her lack of play on country radio. Same Trailer Different Park, Pageant Material, and Golden Hour are all #1 on Top Country Albums and top-five peaks on the Billboard 200. Meanwhile her only major airplay hit was her debut single "Merry Go Round".
  • In 1992, Ricky Van Shelton released a gospel album titled Don't Overlook Salvation, which certified gold despite producing no singles.
  • The Mavericks' What a Crying Shame and Music for All Occasions were certified double-platinum and platinum, respectively, even though no major singles charted from them.
  • Joey + Rory's final album Hymns That Are Important to Us went to #1 on Top Country Albums and was certified gold despite being a Christian album that produced no radio singles. Part of this was due to the publicity of Joey Feek's death from cancer around the time of the album's release.
  • Tyler Childers' 2019 album Country Squire went to #1 on Top Country Albums despite none of its singles getting any airplay on country radio.
  • Jason Isbell's The Nashville Sound (2017) and Reunions (2020) both were #1 country albums despite charting no singles between them.
  • Julie Roberts' 2004 self-titled debut went gold entirely off her only hit single "Break Down Here".

  • 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. "Redbone" from Awaken, My Love! finally broke the trend and hit the top 40.
  • 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.
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot's first album, Swass, went platinum. This was an impressive achievement, considering that hip-hop was a fairly new genre at the time and Sir-Mix-A-Lot was on an independent label. However, the only song from it to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 was "Posse on Broadway", which peaked at #70.
  • Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly peaked at #1 on the album charts and is considered to be one of the best albums of all time, but none of the singles made it to the top 40, with "King Kunta" getting the closest, peaking at #55. Given that it's a very politically-charged Concept Album, this isn't particularly surprising.
  • A Tribe Called Quest, despite having multiple gold and platinum-selling albums, never had a top 40 pop hit. The closest they got was "Award Tour" from Midnight Marauders, but it fizzled out at #47.

  • 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.
    • Averted in America where the American counterparts of their albums featured altered tracklists to feature the hit singles, only for the Beatles to demand Capitol Records to not do this beginning with Sgt. Pepper when this trope was played straight from that point on. They would, however, put out a compilation of singles from the post-Magical Mystery Tour era after their breakup called Hey Jude.
      • A notable exception is Magical Mystery Tour. It started in England as a double-EP, but when it came time to release it in America, Capitol decided to add all of the singles from the Sgt. Pepper era on the B-side, while the A-side featured the original EP with an altered tracklist. However, this was widely regarded as a smart move and became the preferred version for many, even in the band's native UK.
  • Three of British indie pop group Blossoms' studio albums reached #1 in their homeland but none of their singles have cracked the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart.
  • 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 Come Away with Me (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.
  • Taylor Swift's surprise album folklore (2020) has a variant - it was the best-selling album of 2020, yet lead single "Cardigan" couldn't crack the year-end Hot 100, even though it opened at #1.
  • Jamie XX released In Colour to major critical acclaim, including Mercury Prize and Grammy nominations, as well as peaking at #3 and #2 on the UK and Australian charts, respectively. Despite this, the album's only hits were on the UK Indie charts, and none of them ever reached the UK Top 40. They have Spotify listens in the hundreds of millions, however.

     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") #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 US Top 40 song ever— "New World Man", from Signals, 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 (1975) and Animals. All either gold or (multi-)platinum, none have a US top-100 single. Animals in fact didn't have any singles (though every one of its tracks did see either a promotional or unauthorized release in various parts of Europe). 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. The band's album tracks did get plenty of airplay on FM radio and still do on classic rock stations, despite never being released as singles. In their native UK, the earliest, Syd Barrett-fronted incarnation of the band had a Top 20 hit with their (standalone) debut single "Arnold Layne" in spring 1967, followed it with a Top 10 a couple of months later in "See Emily Play"... then charted precisely 0 singles in the next 12 years while they were having ten hitless Top 10 albums. They did not return to the singles chart until The Wall produced a huge Number One hit at the turn of the Eighties with "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)".
  • 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 whatsoever 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 successful in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, despite being forbidden or frowned upon by many of the regimes.

  • Janelle Monáe'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.
  • Since Beyoncé's Self-Titled Album came out in 2013, she’s yet to have a single hit #1 on Billboard. Drunk in Love from that album got to #2 but nothing else got anywhere near the top ten despite the album #2 on the Billboard charts in 2014. Only Formation and Sorry from Lemonade (2016) did well on the singles charts at #10 and #11 respectively. It was the third best selling album of 2016. Likely due to the former being pretty overtly sexual in nature and the latter being a Concept Album.

  • 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.

  • 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
  • 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 they only have two Hot 100 entries. They do, however, have ten #1 hits on the Mainstream Rock charts.
  • The only Green Day albums to have their songs reach the Billboard Top 40 are American Idiot (which produced three Top 20 singles) and 21st Century Breakdown (which had "21 Guns" and "Know Your Enemy" both reach the Top 40) despite the fact that almost all of their albums have sold extremely well. Particularly notable is Dookie, which went Diamond (ten million copies sold) and never had any of its songs hit the Hot 100, largely due to most of the songs being ineligible at the time to enter without a single release. Despite this, Green Day has had plenty of #1 hits on rock radio.
  • 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 were 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 ("Be Quick or Be Dead" reached #2 in the UK charts, but the most enduring song was the title track, which only charted in a live version). 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.
  • 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.
  • Korn more-or-less defines this trope.
    • Their debut album Korn takes it to an extreme. None of its singles 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, but all of its singles also 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.
  • 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.
  • Linkin Park's 2014 album The Hunting Party went platinum in spite of none of its singles touching the Hot 100, due to the band going towards a less mainstream-friendly Hard Rock sound after two electronically-driven albums, though several songs were hits on the rock charts. Though notably it was their first album since their debut not to top the charts.
  • 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.
  • 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). The Title Track would become a hit decades after its release after a Colbert Bump from Stranger Things.
  • 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.
  • In spite of Nine Inch Nails having released 3 multi-platinum albums in the USA, they have had only one top 20 single, "The Day The World Went Away", which isn't even one of their more well-known songs.
  • 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.
  • Van Halen had a few of these early in their career.
    • Their first album from 1978 spent a whopping 173 weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart, peaking at #19, and was eventually certified Diamond; nowadays it's widely considered one of the greatest debut albums in rock history. Of the four singles released from the album, just one (the band's cover version of "You Really Got Me") managed to sneak into the lower reaches of the top 40, peaking at #36. Only one of the other three singles charted at all, and that one only made it to #84.
    • Their third and fourth albums, Women and Children First and Fair Warning, both peaked in the top ten of the Billboard 200 and went triple-platinum and double-platinum respectively, despite having no significant hits. The band only released one single in the US from each album, with "And the Cradle Will Rock" stalling out at #55 on the Hot 100 and "So This is Love?" failing to chart.

  • 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.
  • Bjork's first two albums Debut and Post both went platinum in the US, but none of their singles charted on the Hot 100 except "Big Time Sensuality" from Debut which only peaked at #88. Several singles were hits on the dance charts, though.
  • 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 has had six platinum albums and three gold albums despite having only four top 40 hits in the US. The crowning example would be 1999's Running With Scissors for going platinum despite not having any singles chart in the Hot 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).