It’s no secret that TLC are the biggest selling female group of all time in the United States, and second only to Spice Girls worldwide. As diehard music fans, we always love to know the exact amount of sales our faves have achieved thus far.
Chartmasters.org specialise in this department and have carried out an extensive review of how popular our girls are and how their sales have fared over the years!
Through the entire 90s decade, they were unstoppable in the US. They’ve got 9 Top 10 singles, which combined lasted 123 weeks in this region. Among them, Creep, Waterfalls, No Scrubs, and Unpretty, were all #1 smashes that topped the Hot 100 for at least 3 weeks each.
The first pair came out of the classic album CrazySexyCool, quite simply the first US RIAA Diamond album ever by a girl group.
Obviously, urban music was nowhere near as global during the 90s as it is right now. TLC were no exception with no chart topper, nor single nor album, in either major market the UK, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan.
Their career was also ended abruptly in 2002 when the main creative force of the trio, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, died at 30 in a tragic car crash. The group then gained a cult aura, although the follow up albums 3D and TLC sold less.
TLC’s Album Sales
Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip was home to 3 Top 10 hits in the US, posting an impressive chart run thanks to them. In spite of never going higher than #14, it remained 51 weeks inside the Top 50 of the Billboard album list.
This success, added to later interest created by subsequent albums, led it to 4xPlatinum status in the US. It was hardly promoted elsewhere yet since R&B music was still prominently a US thing by 1992. A huge 91.5% of its 4.72 million sales to date thus come from North America alone.
Waterfalls broke several boundaries for the trio in 1995, catapulting CrazySexyCool to much better sales abroad. On top of selling a whopping 11.8 million copies in the US, it also shifted 4.1 million more units globally.
No Scrubs was even bigger in many places, although FanMail wasn’t as consistent as its predecessor. It is still an immense seller, breaking the 10 million threshold in worldwide sales.
Even if she participated in its recording, the absence of Lisa Lopes impacted strongly, and negatively, the reception of 3D. The album also lacked of a solid single, ultimately selling 1.38 million copies.
The attempt of the group to reform and release a new album in 2017 closed in 45,000 units.
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.
The string of US Top 10 hits in the US no doubt helped the TLC in amassing sizable physical singles sales during the 90s. By then, the format was still significant there, topping 100 million sales annually.
That’s how both Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg and Baby-Baby-Baby went on to surpass a million sales, almost exclusively from their native country where they got awarded Platinum.
What About Your Friends was a Gold recipient, selling less than the remaining pair of hits although it did well too. The era of their debut album was ended with a count of over 3.4 million physical singles sold.
Creep was already a huge smash, shifting nearly 1.5 million units in the US, plus residual sales in Europe and Oceania. It ended up selling well over 100,000 copies in the UK when it was newly issued after the success of Waterfalls.
In fact, we shouldn’t get it wrong, the biggest hit of this LP is the latter. A 7-weeks #1 in the US, Waterfalls was also the group’s first Top 10 hit in many countries, including the UK where it got to #4.
The song moved over 1.3 million units in the US, 725,000 in Europe and over 100,000 in Oceania. These numbers pushed it over 2 million in total.
Diggin’ On You and Red Light Special sold less but still fairly well, both a bit under a million.
The lead single of FanMail, No Scrubs, managed to become their biggest hit globally. Sales of physical singles were already going down in the US (a sharp drop of 35% from 1997 to 1999), but the song moved over 800,000 units anyway. It went Platinum in the UK, en route for more than 1.3 million sales in Europe.
The status of the group at that point led Unpretty to also move past a million units, but subsequent singles completely failed to gain traction. While No Scrubs looked like the kick off of TLC‘s best years, it happened to be instead their final true hit.
If early hits of the group sounded very fresh in 1992, R&B got polished and perfected so much in later years that it now feels quite dated.
We can see it easily with their sales in digital formats. Downloads of Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg, What About Your Friends and Baby-Baby-Baby all fail to hit 200,000 units.
Looking at these numbers, it seems hard to believe the latter was 6 weeks #2 in the US, blocked only by Boyz II Men‘s End Of The Road, the then longest running #1 hit of all-time.
The status of songs from CrazySexyCool is fully different. Waterfalls and Creep are R&B classics. They both crack a million combined sales of downloads and ringtones, with the former smashing at 1.77 million. It sold past a million downloads in the US alone.
No Scrubs, another US million seller, splashes out at 2.5 million units. It’s their top selling catalog hit virtually everywhere. Unpretty comes nowhere near and happens to be mostly forgotten nowadays.
There is still one recent song, from 2013, which sold good numbers. That’s J. Cole single Crooked Smile on which they are featured. It sold nearly a million to date. It helps them to top 8 million cumulatively.
Streaming is made up of audio and video streams. Our CSPC methodology now includes both to better reflect the real popularity of each track. The main source of data for each avenue is respectively Spotify and YouTube. As detailed in the Fixing Log article, Spotify represents 157 million of the 272 million users of streaming platforms, while YouTube is pretty much the only video platform generating some revenue for the industry. Below is the equivalence set on the aforementioned article:
Audio Stream – 1500 plays equal 1 album unit
Video Stream – 11,750 views equal 1 album unit
If the classic album of the TLC is CrazySexyCool, singles wise their catalog is led by 1999’s smash No Scrubs. The song is a modern day favorite with a massive 333 million streams on Spotify while also flying high on YouTube. It has now moved past 400,000 EAS in this format.
Waterfalls is a distant but still very solid runner up. It breaks 100 million streams with ease on both platforms. The recent single Crooked Smile does too.
The issue comes behind with scores going down at fast pace. Creep does undoubtedly well with around 75 million on both sides, but Unpretty is already very fair from the top songs.
It sounds fairly logical to add together weighted sales of one era – studio album, physical singles, downloads, streams – to get the full picture of an album’s popularity. For older releases though, they also generate sales of various live, music videos and compilation albums.
All those packaging-only records do not create value, they exploit the value originating from the parent studio album of each of its tracks instead. Inevitably, when such compilations are issued, this downgrades catalog sales of the original LP. Thus, to perfectly gauge the worth of these releases, we need to re-assign sales proportionally to its contribution of all the compilations which feature its songs. The following table explains this method.
The distribution process
How to understand this table? In the example of Now and Forever: The Hits, these figures mean it sold 1,290,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 804,384 equivalent album sales from streams of all types.
The second part on the right of the table shows how many equivalent streams are coming from each original album, plus the share it represents on the overall package. Thus, streaming figures tell us songs from the FanMail album are responsible for 55% of the Now and Forever: The Hitstrack list attractiveness. This means it generated 715,000 of its 1,290,000 album sales and so forth for the other records. We then apply this process to all compilations present on below table.
Full Length related records Sales – Summary
Here is the most underestimated indicator of an album’s success – the amount of compilation sales of all kinds it generated. Due to the dependency of sales of the original studio albums on these releases, they are a key piece of the jigsaw. These numbers are obtained by applying the method from the section The distribution process to all packages listed under Compilation sales figures listing category.
Unsurprisingly, their near 2 million sales of compilations and music videos are almost entirely powered by their big albums, CrazySexyCool and FanMail. They are each responsible for nearly a million sales of compilations.
Please note country-specific numbers may miss sales of a few minor releases, although totals are complete.
TLC Career CSPC Results
So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Bryan Adams achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!
Albums CSPC results
In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, singles from CrazySexyCool released in digital format sold the equivalent of 549,000 albums – 3,660,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.
As a reminder:
Studio Album: sales of the original album
Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/11750 for Video stream)
Nearly 20 million! CrazySexyCool was close to reach the level which separates strong sellers with super sellers. It may be a matter of time though. At 19.3 million EAS, that will take a few years, but the ongoing appeal of both the album and its primary singles will continue to bring in sales.
These huge sales imply that FanMail has to settle for number 2 even if it moved an impressive 13 million EAS on its own.
It’s important to note that back then it was very difficult to create a following with urban music outside of the US. In spite of the success of its predecessor, FanMail debuted at #25 in the UK, #13 in Germany, #32 in France, #39 in Austria, #16 in Australia, etc.
It re-peaked afterwards in all these countries thanks to No Scrubs. To go on and sell again so many copies with a near non-existent fan base and general public interest is stunning.
This also means that once you fail to get a hit, you are in trouble. That’s what happened with the last two albums which add next to nothing to their legacy.
In total, the TLC stand on 40.34 million equivalent album sales. That puts them a few millions below remaining super selling girl groups, but it’s definitely a very worthy total, especially since it has been made on the back of almost exclusively 3 albums.
Singles CSPC results
The list is compiled in album equivalent sales generated by each song. Therefore, these figures are not merged units of singles formats. Instead, it includes weighted sales of the song’s physical single, download, ringtone and streaming as well as its share among sales of all albums on which it is featured.
1. 1999 – TLC – No Scrubs [FanMail] – 11,130,000
2. 1994 – TLC – Waterfalls [CrazySexyCool] – 10,210,000
3. 1994 – TLC – Creep [CrazySexyCool] – 5,420,000
4. 1992 – TLC – What About Your Friends [Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip] – 2,090,000
5. 1992 – TLC – Baby-Baby-Baby [Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip] – 1,900,000
6. 1999 – TLC – Unpretty [FanMail] – 1,450,000
7. 1994 – TLC – Red Light Special [CrazySexyCool] – 1,420,000
8. 1992 – TLC – Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg [Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip] – 1,350,000
“Said I got an email today, kinda thought that you forgot about me”. Emotionally charged lines from TLC‘s classic track “FanMail“. We definitely haven’t forgotten about one of the greatest highlights on their 1999 comeback album of the same name.
Nor have we forgotten that the futuristic, anthemic track was covered by the then up-and-coming Toronto singer/rapper Drake in 2010, in the form of “I Get Lonely“, for his mixtape, ‘It’s Never Enough’. Back then it was strictly only available on Soundcloud and various uploads on YouTube — until now.
Drake has decided to release a 17-song compilation of his previously unofficially released classics, titled ‘Care Package‘, giving an official platform for the songs to be purchased and streamed commercially. “Some of our most important moments together available in one place,” he stated in an Instagram post.
“I’m envious of friends of mine that have great committed relationships,” Drizzy told MTV in 2010, regarding his feelings towards the subject of feeling lonely. “When people call home to check on their girl or they say, ‘I’m not going to go out tonight. I’m just going to spend the night with my girl.’ That hits me, man. I just don’t have that. You could be lonely with a bunch of people around you.”
With everybody releasing ‘unreleased’ tracks on new projects from Drake to Nas (‘The Lost Tapes 2‘), let’s hope TLC can follow suit and drop an album of their greatest unreleased tracks, something fans are craving for, worldwide.
TLC is not only the biggest-selling female group in the United States, but their tour stats go unmatched, too. 2000’s ‘Fanmail Tour‘ remains as the highest-grossing tour by a girl group in history, ever.
Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas are ensuring they remain as one of the world’s greatest live acts. Ever since returning to the concert circuit in 2013 after a lengthy hiatus, they have been touring consistently, doing a mixture of spot dates and major tours, both nationally and overseas.
Their current major tour, sponsored by Live Nation, is their fourth tour in five years, and see’s them on the road with rappers Flo Rida and co-headliner, Nelly. The tour kicked off on July 23 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Their home town Atlanta was the second spot on the summer amphitheater tour on July 24.
TLC’s return to Atlanta was long overdue. The girls last performed in the city at the tail-end of 2017, to celebrate the New Year at the city’s annual Peach Drop celebration at Woodruff Park .
T-Boz and Chilli had promised fans that this tour would be something fresh and exciting to experience, and they kept their word. Everything has been updated and refreshed, from the choreography and stage production, to updated mixes of their hits and additions to the set list with some fan favorites. Proving that they are listening to the feedback from the fans.
Flo Rida opened the night in true Flo Rida style, cranking through his 50-minute set, performing his ever popular hits, “Whistle”, “Right Round”, “Club Can’t Handle Me”, “Wild One“, new track, “Snack“, and his debut hit, “Low“.
Nelly, who alternates the closing spot with TLC on different nights, took the second spot at the Atlanta gig at Cellairis Amphitheater at Lakewood. Nelly blazed through his energetic 75-minute with his classics, “E.I”, “Country Grammar”, “Ride Wit Me”, “Hot In Herre”, “Just A Dream” and “Dilemma“.
Nelly has a few surprise guests during his set, in the form of some of Atlanta’s greatest rappers of his era. Jermaine Dupri joined Nelly to perform his 2005 smash, “Grillz“. Big Boi also came out to perform “Kryptonite” with him. T.I. even made an appearance, performing his own smashes, “Whatever You Like” and “What You Know“. Nelly’s cousin, J-Kwon, performed his infectious single, “Tipsy“.
TLC, the night’s main attraction, graced the stage at 9:45PM, delivering a solid 75-minute set of nostalgia and some recent bops from their latest release. T-Boz and Chilli, along with Left Eye‘s presence in her original vocal playbacks, kept the majority of the audience on their feet.
The show opened with the classic, “What About Your Friends?“, which featured a new, energetic dance break in the middle. “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” followed shortly after, before taking things down a notch with the smooth, “Diggin’ On You“.
Things got straight back up with the club anthem, “Silly Ho“, and the “Baby-Baby-Baby” remix. After a moment of thanking fans for their loyalty and support, they launch into “FanMail” and “Joy Ride“, both tracks solely dedicated to the fans.
For the first time in their live shows they sing the hook from “Crooked Smile“, their 2013 collaboration with J. Cole. They have only ever performed the song once before at the iHeart Music Awards that same year. T-Boz gave a few words about her struggles as a young girl before launching into “Unpretty”.
The ladies take a short break, allowing their four talented dancers to do their thing and show the best of their talents.
The medley came next, consisting of a mix of classics and rarely performed tracks that the fans adore, giving each album some appreciation. Starting with “Hat 2 Da Back“, followed by the amazing “Kick Your Game” and “Come Get Some“, concluding with the superb hook to “Girl Talk” from the 3D album.
The girls kept the momentum flowing with performances of the seductive “Red Light Special“, the uplifting “It’s Sunny“, the summery vibes of “Way Back“, and then T-Boz and Chilli talk about a deadbeat guy who is hanging on the passengers side of a car next to them at the traffic lights, before launching into the worldwide anthem, “No Scrubs“.
As they get halfway through their mega smash, “Waterfalls“, the ladies stop and ask the audience to honor their sister, Left Eye, and put the lights on their phone’s up in the air (dubbed as ‘Lights For Left Eye’), as they played her rap in full and danced the classic choreography while her video played out to the crowd.
A great start to a phenomenal joint tour with 3 top acts, sharing 12 #1 singles amongst them. Stay tuned for more surprises that may pop-up along the way! The tour concludes on August 31 in Irvine, CA.