To put the debates to rest, once and for all, Guinness World Records has confirmed what we have all known for decades: who the REAL queen of music is:
Madonna (USA, b. Madonna Ciccone) has sold more than 300 million albums in her career since debuting with her self-titled release in 1983.
As of October 2013, Madonna had sold an estimated 305,600,000 albums. Her best-sellers are The Immaculate Collection (1990, 30 million copies sold) and True Blue (1986, 25 million copies sold).
Although precise sales figures are difficult to obtain and are often disputed, it is acknowledged that only The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson have conclusively sold more albums worldwide than Madonna.
Among female artists, Mariah Carey (USA), Celine Dion (Canada) and Whitney Houston (USA, 1963-2012) all have total worldwide album sales estimated at 200 million units.
In addition to her phenomenal album sales, Madonna's earnings of $125 m (£82 m) for the period from June 2012 to June 2013 were the highest annual earnings ever for a female pop star, dwarfing those of previous record holder Celine Dion, whose earnings amounted to $56 m ($80 m, or £49 m, today) in 1998.