2012 Special Report: Dissecting KISS' Nielsen SoundScan Totals

Crunching numbers and tossin' and turnin' the sales of the KISS catalog in the Nielsen SoundScan era
By Tim McPhate

In conjunction with KissFAQ's interview with Paul Grein, below is an analysis of KISS' up-to-date Nielsen SoundScan figures. Once again, this information reflects sales of the KISS catalog dating back to when Nielsen SoundScan was implemented in 1991.

With this analysis, we dug deeper to see which titles have sold best in the last 20-plus years, while grouping together albums and making some fun comparisons. For example, which "Alive" album has sold the most? Which original member has the best selling recent solo album? How does the non-makeup era stack up against the makeup era? How about "Double Platinum" vs. "Smashes"? Which album is the poorest seller in the Nielsen SoundScan era? Find out below ...

Let's Put The P In Platinum
At 830,000 units, "Smashes, Thrashes & HIts" is the best-selling KISS album of the Nielsen SoundScan era, period. "Smashes" was certified double-platinum in 1996, and looks like it may be on its way to triple-platinum status. Is it the fact that the album contains [1]"Let's Put The X In Sex," or because there are 13 KISS classics featured? You decide ...

Makeup Era vs. Non-Makeup Era
No surprise here. Sales of the studio albums from the classic makeup era (1974-1982) have easily surpassed those of the non-makeup era:
Classic Makeup era ("KISS" - "Creatures Of The Night," 10 albums): 2.4 million
Non-Makeup era ("Lick It Up" - "Carnival Of Souls," 7 albums): 1.3 million

Originals vs. Originals II
The second trio of albums in the "classic six" has outsold the first three at nearly a 2:1 ratio, mainly on the strength of "Destroyer." It's interesting to note that the poorest selling album of the second trio ("Rock And Roll Over") has sold more than the best selling album of the first trio ("KISS"):
"Destroyer," "Rock And Roll Over," "Love Gun": 1.2 million
"KISS," "Hotter Than Hell," "Dressed To Kill": 616,000

KISS S/T vs. "Lick It Up"
"Lick It Up" is considered a "debut" album of sorts for the non-makeup era. When paired against "KISS," the 1974 debut album has outsold it at more than a 2:1 ratio.
"KISS": 217,000
"Lick It Up": 101,000

"Dynasty" Or "Unmasked"?
Surprisingly, "Unmasked" has a ever so slight edge over "Dynasty":
"Unmasked": 177,000
"Dynasty": 167,000

The "Alive!" Albums
Given "Alive III" was released in the heart of the Nielsen SoundScan era, it's not surprising that it is the leading seller in this series. However, it may be considered surprising that "Alive II" has outperformed "Alive!":
"Alive III": 558,000
"Alive II": 304,000
"Alive!": 274,000
"Symphony: Alive IV": 156,000 (reflects double-disc and single-disc sales)

The '78 Solo Albums
True to fans' collective preferences, it's hardly a surprise to see that "Ace Frehley" is comfortably the best-selling 1978 solo album. "Paul Stanley" and "Gene Simmons" are nearly neck-and-neck, though Gene has a slight 4K edge. In breaking down the albums according to the two predictable sides of the KISS founders circle, it is interesting to note that Ace and Peter's total tops Paul and Gene's total:
"Ace Frehley": 142,000
"Gene Simmons": 93,000
"Paul Stanley": 89,000
"Peter Criss": 71,000

The Originals' Recent Solo Albums
Again, Ace Frehley has the edge, by 3,000 over Paul Stanley. Still, Paul's album was released in 2006, while Ace's was released in 2009. Totaling sales of all four of these albums, we get 153,000, which constitutes a little more than half of what "Sonic Boom" has sold.
"Anomaly": 56,000
"Live to Win: 53,000
"A**hole": 36,000
"One For All": 8,000
Total: 153,000
"Sonic Boom": 294,000
Also, with "BK3" selling 9,000 units, Bruce Kulick edged Peter Criss' "One For All" by 1K.

The Invasion vs. The Comet
In terms of the first two studio albums from Vinnie Vincent and Ace Frehley as solo artists, the two guitarists are nearly even (Ace holds a small 1K edge):
"Frehley's Comet": 38,000
"Second Sighting": 4,000
"Vinnie Vincent Invasion:" 15,000
"All Systems Go": 26,000

The Big Compilations
In the clash of the big compilations representing the makeup and non-makeup eras, the latter gets the nod:
"Smashes, Thrashes & Hits": 830,000
"Double Platinum": 522,000
Nestled in the middle is the more recent "The Very Best Of KISS": 739,000

Studio Albums: Highest Seller/Lowest Seller
In terms of studio albums (and excluding the '78 solo albums), "Destroyer" reigns supreme In the Nielsen SoundScan era. (Deluxe edition, anyone?) And the poorest selling studio album? That'd be "Asylum."
"Destroyer": 726,000
"Asylum": 88,000