Apparently, the album that is second only to Jackson’s Thriller, with more than 55 million copies sold, is a 2006 release titled Aap Kaa Surroor by Indian actor/singer Himesh Reshammiya. It seems just about every one of those 55 million copies was sold in India, which explains why this is news to me. The album was Reshammiya’s first, and was followed up by his debut acting performance in a film of the same name.
If you look up tracks from Aap Kaa Surroor on YouTube, you’ll find legions of Indian music fans reminiscing about how ubiquitous this album was in the mid-2000’s. But you won’t find much devotion to Reshammiya as an artist. Commenters poke fun at his nasal vocals and almost apologize for liking the songs.
Still, there is an undercurrent of nostalgic appreciation for the work, a shared memory of a pop culture moment that united the country in song.
If you consider that India has more than 1.4 billion people, I guess 55 million album sales isn’t an astronomical amount. That’s 4 percent of the country’s population. It’s the equivalent of an album selling 14 million copies in the U.S.
That said, only 23 albums have sold 14+ million copies in the U.S., and only one in this millennium (Adele’s 2011 21). So by any measure, Reshammiya is in rarefied air.