Music History The 10 Most Expensive Albums Ever Made  

Sean Kelly
72.3k views 10 items

There's no rushing art. The perfect album can take a long time and that time comes with a steep bill. Production budgets for major albums are often high but add a major artist with a knack for perfection and an expensive studio and the cost can quickly spiral.

With some artists, perfectionism takes over and deadlines are blown causing longer delays and more money spent. In other cases, major production expenses can be chalked up to the luxury of experimentation and creative freedom. Whatever the case, there have been some unbelievably expensive recordings in recent years that yielded a variety of results commercially and critically. 

Let's take a look at the tab.

 

Invincible is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 10 Most Expensive Albums Ever Made
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Michael Jackson's final album, Invincible, is known as the most expensive album ever made - and for good reason. The album, which was released in 2001, was recorded over a four-year period, and dozens of songs were tracked in the process. With a $30 million price tag upon completion, the album was released to critical acclaim.

"Invincible doesn't just sound like they spent a huge amount of money on the latest producers. It sounds very much like Jackson, but contemporary Jackson," one reviewer wrote

Invincible hit number one in twelve countries and was certified platinum in the US within weeks. The album was certified double platinum for two million in sales by January 2002. 

Artist: Michael Jackson

Release Date: 2001

see more on Invincible
Chinese Democracy is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 10 Most Expensive Albums Ever Made
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

With costs totaling $13 million, Guns n' Roses' fabled Chinese Democracy was meant to be Axl Rose's great comeback. Recording took 10 years and the release was stalled numerous times in the process. Expenses were so high that Geffen Records attempted to release a greatest hits compilation to offset costs, and Rose responded by filing a lawsuit in 2004. 

Rose lost the suit, and the label went ahead with the greatest hits project - due in part to the fact that Rose had gone bck on his continued promise that the album was complete and ready for release.

"Every year there's been a new reason why Axl is not done with the record," a source said at the time of the lawsuit. "Had he delivered this record like he promised seven years ago, this would not be happening right now."

Finally released in November 2008, the album received mixed reviews. It debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 but was certified platinum for one million in sales in February 2009. 

Artist: Guns N' Roses

Release Date: 2008

Also Ranked

#27 on Which Delayed Albums Were Actually Worth the Wait?

see more on Chinese Democracy
In... the Life of Chris Gaines is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 10 Most Expensive Albums Ever Made
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Garth Brooks spent $5 million on a failed attempt to recreate himself as Chris Gaines, a now-legendary rock singer who was originally intended to be the lead in a scrapped movie starring the country superstar. Brooks released his alter-ego's album as Garth Brooks In...The Life Of Chris Gaines to much confusion and the experiment cost much more than money.

The album reportedly cost then-Capitol Records head Pat Quigley his job, after Quigley went to bat for Brooks and allowed the project to come together. The album was considered a flop despite selling two million copies. Compared to Brooks' standard at the time of between six and seven million copies per album, it certainly didn't live up to expectations. 

Artist: Garth Brooks, Chris Gaines

Release Date: 1999

see more on In... the Life of Chris Gaines
Hysteria is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 10 Most Expensive Albums Ever Made
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Def Leppard's fourth album Hysteria is famous for being loaded with hits and for being extremely expensive. With costs totaling close to $5 million, the albums was considered one of the most expensive projects of its time. 

"We'd spent so much money making the record that for it to fail would have been disastrous for this band," drummer Rick Allen said. The British brand felt increasing pressure when early singles from the album didn't perform well until the song "Pour Some Sugar On Me" skyrocketed the band and album to enormous success.

"I mean, we've got a one-armed drummer, took a ludicrous amount of time and money on [the album] – and we're still here. So we have this attitude that nothing's impossible – except, maybe, making a six-week album," singer Joe Elliott said of the aftermath of the album's release.

To date, the album has sold over 25 million copies worldwide.

Artist: Def Leppard

Release Date: 1987

Also Ranked

#21 on Albums You're Guaranteed To Find In Every Parent's CD Collection

#7 on What Are the Best Diamond Certified Albums of All Time?

#1 on Which Delayed Albums Were Actually Worth the Wait?

see more on Hysteria