The most successful album of 1985, according to Billboard, the record industry trade bible, was Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," released in August 1984. In second place was Bryan Adams' "Reckless," followed closely by Madonna's "Like a Virgin." Madonna, however, was deemed the year's most successful pop artist, because of Billboard's complex system of tabulating chart positions week by week rather than on a long-term basis. The eligibility period runs from Nov. 17, 1984, to Nov. 16, 1985.

The Boss probably doesn't mind, though. His album, which has sold more than 10 million copies in the United States, has been in the top 10 for 81 weeks now. It's the biggest selling album since Prince's "Purple Rain," though it still trails Michael Jackson's "Thriller" by a good 20 million copies. Springsteen also had the highest grossing tour of the year, including a six-night stand at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., that took in $6.9 million, and a four-night stand at Los Angeles' Memorial Coliseum that brought in another $5.7 million. The Jacksons took third place with a $4.2 million gross for three nights at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (and that with a $28 ticket price, versus $17.50 for Springsteen's).

Overall, Springsteen had 13 of the top 40 grosses, including the Aug. 5 concert at RFK Stadium, which provided some basic pocket change: $925,155. Prince had nine entries of his own, including the seven sellouts at Capital Centre ($2 million, good for No. 12).

Billboard's year-end survey is based on its own charts, but unlike the movie industry, which reports its grosses on a weekly basis, the record industry seems unwilling to report anything more specific than what's necessary to earn gold or platinum status. Figures like those attributed to the Springsteen or Jackson albums tend to be provided more for bragging rights than anything else; hard figures for any other top 200 albums are much harder to come by. Still, in the absence of any other grading system, Billboard's charts provide some welcome commercial overview.

Madonna's top pop artist compatriots, chosen on the basis of combined albums and singles and seeded Nos. 2 through 10: Springsteen, Prince, Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Wham!, Tears for Fears, Tina Turner, Billy Ocean and the Pointer Sisters. Not surprisingly there was some carry-over in the album chart with (Nos. 4 through 10) Wham!, Turner, Collins, the "Beverly Hills Cop" soundtrack, Ocean, Prince and Tears for Fears.

The top black artists: Kool and the Gang, New Edition, Prince and the Revolution, Whitney Houston and Freddie Jackson. Houston also was named top new pop and black artist, and placed two singles in the top five black music singles ("You Give Good Love" and "Saving All My Love for You"), while Jackson's "Rock Me Tonight" earned him both the top black single honors, second place as new black artist and fourth as new pop artist. The most popular black albums were Kool and the Gang's "Emergency," Tina Turner's "Private Dancer," "New Edition," Houston's eponymous debut and Luther Vandross' "The Night I Fell in Love."

The top country artists were Alabama, George Strait, Hank Williams Jr., the Judds and Willie Nelson. Top album honors went to Alabama's "40 Hour Week," the Judds' "Why Not Me," Strait's "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind," Ricky Skaggs' "Country Boy" and Ray Charles' "Friendship."

The top 10 pop singles, in order: Wham!'s "Careless Whisper," Madonna's "Like a Virgin," Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is," Chaka Khan's "I Feel for You," Hall and Oates' "Out of Touch," Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," Madonna's "Crazy for You" and A-Ha's "Take on Me." USA for Africa's "We Are the World" finished No. 20.

The top jazz albums were Wynton Marsalis' "Hot House Flowers," Stanley Jordan's "Magic Touch," Pat Metheny Group's "First Circle," David Sanborn's "Straight to the Heart" and George Benson's "20/20."

The top classical albums were "Amadeus" (Neville Marriner), "Mozart: Requiem" (Academy of Ancient Music), "Webber: Requiem" (Domingo, Brightman, Maazel), "Bernstein: West Side Story" (Te Kanawa, Carreras, Bernstein) and "Haydn/Humeel/L. Mozart: Trumpet Concertos" (Wynton Marsalis, National Philharmonic Orchestra). As was his dual Grammy triumph a few years back, Marsalis' jazz-classical double-header is a first.