Thursday, February 1, 2018

The World's All-Time Best-Selling Songs

This list was originally posted 12/29/2011. Revised 2/1/2018.

image from dreamstime.com

This list is a compiled from a variety of sources for sales figures (see complete source list here), but they are generally estimates since there is no official agency to track worldwide sales. As such, it is highly possible that some of these sales figures have been inflated by record companies or other vested parties, but this list does at least offer some idea of the world’s best-selling songs.

If you have your doubts about some of these songs belonging on this list, you’re not alone. I realize my knowledge of music beyond U.S. shores is limited, but if songs like Thelma Aoyama’s “Soba ni lur ne”, Utada Hikaru’s “Flavor of Life”, Kiseki’s “Greeeen”, Andre Brasseur’s “Early Bird”, and Machiko Soga’s “Oba-Q Ondo” are truly that monstrous in sales, shouldn’t I have at least heard of them? Oh well. I just report the lists. I don’t make these figures up (even if someone else does).

Note: in the event of ties, songs are ranked according to overall DMDB points.

20+ million:

  • Bing Crosby…White Christmas (1942) 56 million
  • Elton John…Candle in the Wind 1997 (Goodbye England’s Rose) (1997) 37 m
  • Bing Crosby…Silent Night (1935) 30 m
  • Bill Haley & His Comets…We’re Gonna Rock Around the Clock (1954) 25 m
  • The Harry Simeone Chorale…The Little Drummer Boy (1958) 25 m
  • Elvis Presley…It’s Now or Never (1960) 22 m
  • Whitney Houston…I Will Always Love You (1992) 20 m
  • U.S.A. for Africa…We Are the World (1985) 20 m
  • Paul Anka…Diana (1957) 20 m
  • The Old Folks at Home (Swanee River) (1892) 20 m *
  • Listen to the Mocking Bird (aka “The Mocking Bird”) (1891) 20 m *

    14 to 19 million:

  • The Ink Spots…If I Didn’t Care (1939) 19 m
  • Gene Autry…Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1949) 18 m
  • Ed Sheeran…Shape of You (2017) 17 m
  • Kenny Rogers…Lady (1980) 16 m
  • Mariah Carey…All I Want for Christmas Is You (1994) 16 m
  • Baccara…Yes Sir, I Can Boogie (1977) 16 m
  • Luis Fonsi with Daddy Yankee & Justin Bieber…Despacito (2017) 15.62 m
  • Carly Rae Jepsen…Call Me Maybe (2011) 15.45 m
  • Celine Dion…My Heart Will Go On (1997) 15 m
  • Black Eyed Peas…I Gotta Feeling (2009) 15 m
  • Kaoma…Lambada (1989) 15 m
  • Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta…You’re the One That I Want (1978)
  • Mark Ronson with Bruno Mars…Uptown Funk! (2014) 14.71 m
  • Ke$ha…Tik Tok (2009) 14.2 m
  • Gloria Gaynor…I Will Survive (1978) 14 m
  • Adele…Rolling in the Deep (2010) 14 m
  • Lady Gaga…Poker Face (2009) 14 m
  • LMFAO with Lauren Bennett & GoonRock…Party Rock Anthem (2011) 14 m
  • The Scorpions…Wind of Change (1991) 14 m

    11+ to 13.9 million:

  • Maroon 5 with Christina Aguilera…Moves Like Jagger (2011) 13.9 m
  • Bruno Mars…Just the Way You Are (Amazing) (2010) 13.2 m
  • Gotye with Kimbra…Somebody That I Used to Know (2012) 13 m
  • Kyu Sakamoto…Sukiyaki (1963) 13 m
  • Trio…Da Da Da (1982) 13 m
  • Eminem with Rihanna…Love the Way You Lie (2010) 12.78 m
  • Justin Bieber with Ludacris…Baby (2010) 12.58 m
  • Lady Gaga…Bad Romance (2009) 12.48 m
  • Katy Perry…Firework (2010) 12.31 m
  • Adele…Hello (2015) 12.3 m
  • Robin Thicke with T.I. & Pharrell Williams…Blurred Lines (2013) 12.25 m
  • Jason Mraz…I’m Yours (2008) 12.2 m
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with Wanz…Thrift Shop (2012) 12.2 m
  • Pharrell Williams…Happy (2013) 12.13 m
  • The Beatles…I Want to Hold Your Hand (1963) 12 m
  • Village People…Y.M.C.A. (1978) 12 m
  • Flo Rida with T-Pain…Low (2007) 12 m
  • Andrea Bocelli with Sarah Brightman…Time to Say Goodbye (1998) 12 m
  • Psy…Gangnam Style (2012) 11.75 m
  • Band Aid…Do They Know It’s Christmas (1984) 11.7 m
  • Terry Jacks…Seasons in the Sun (1974) 11.5 m
  • Katy Perry…Roar (2013) 11.45 m
  • Idina Menzel…Let It Go (2013) 11.25 m

    11 million:

  • Mills Brothers…Paper Doll (1943)
  • Cher…Believe (1998)
  • Los Del Rio…Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix) (1995)
  • George McCrae…Rock Your Baby (1974)
  • Carl Douglas…Kung Fu Fighting (1974)
  • Patrick Hernandez…Born to Be Alive (1979)
  • Roger Whittaker…The Last Farewell (1975)

    10 + million:

  • Katy Perry with Juicy J…Dark Horse (2013) 10.99 m
  • Imagine Dragons…Radioactive (2012) 10.98 m
  • Black Eyed Peas…Boom Boom Pow (2009) 10.8 m
  • John Legend…All of Me (2013) 10.8 m
  • Bruno Mars…Grenade (2010) 10.6 m
  • Lady Gaga with Colby O’Donis…Just Dance (2008) 10.1 m

    10 million:

  • The Beatles…Hey Jude (1968)
  • Led Zeppelin…Stairway to Heaven (1971)
  • Bryan Adams…(Everything I Do) I Do It for You (1991)
  • Elvis Presley…Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog (1956)
  • Bryan Adams…(Everything I Do) I Do It for You (1991)
  • Procol Harum…A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)
  • Joan Jett & the Blackhearts…I Love Rock and Roll (1981)
  • Patti Page…Tennessee Waltz (1950)
  • The Monkees…I’m a Believer (1966)
  • Britney Spears…Baby One More Time (1998)
  • The Penguins…Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine) (1954)
  • Roy Acuff & the Smoky Mountain Boys…Wabash Cannonball (1938)
  • Shakira with Wyclef Jean…Hips Don’t Lie (2006)
  • Toni Braxton…Un-Break My Heart (1996)
  • One Republic with Timbaland…Apologize (2007)
  • Van McCoy…The Hustle (1975)
  • Mungo Jerry…In the Summertime (1970)
  • Abba…Fernando (1976)
  • The Brotherhood of Man…Save Your Kisses for Me (1976)
  • Middle of the Road…Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (1971)
  • Goombay Dance Band…Sun of Jamaica (1982)
  • Panjabi MC…Mundian To Bach Ke (1998)

    9 + million:

  • Fun. & Janelle Monáe…We Are Young (2012) 9.6 m
  • Taio Cruz…Dynamite (2010) 9.59 m
  • The Chainsmokers with Halsey…Closer (2016) 9.55 m
  • Survivor…Eye of the Tiger (1982) 9.4 m
  • Adele…Someone Like You (2011) 9.4 m
  • Journey…Don’t Stop Believin’ (1981) 9.2 m
  • Maroon 5 with Wiz Khalifa…Payphone (2012) 9.1 m
  • Lil Wayne with Static Major…Lollipop (2008) 9.1 m

    9 million:

  • Elvis Presley…Jailhouse Rock (1957)
  • Rihanna with Jay-Z…Umbrella (2007)
  • Elvis Presley…Are You Lonesome Tonight? (1960)
  • Paul McCartney & Wings…Mull of Kintyre (1977)
  • Shakira…Whenever, Wherever (2001)
  • Nick Straker Band…A Walk in the Park (1980)

    8+ million:

  • LMFAO…Sexy and I Know It (2011) 8.91 m
  • Justin Timberlake…Can’t Stop the Feeling! (2016) 8.86 m
  • Lady Gaga…Born This Way (2011) 8.75 m
  • Rihanna & Calvin Harris…We Found Love (2011) 8.71 m
  • Katy Perry with Kanye West…E.T. (2010) 8.68 m
  • Avicii with Aloe Blacc…Wake Me Up! (2012) 8.62 m
  • Meghan Trainor…All About That Bass (2014) 8.54 m
  • Lorde…Royals (2013) 8.53 m
  • Ben Selvin…Dardanella (1920) 8.5 m **
  • Train…Hey, Soul Sister (2009) 8.5 m
  • Taylor Swift…Shake It Off (2014) 8.45 m
  • Katy Perry…I Kissed a Girl (2008) 8.4 m
  • Jennifer Lopez with Pitbull…On the Floor (2011) 8.4 m
  • Daft Punk with Pharrell Williams…Get Lucky (2013) 8.22 m
  • Pitbull with Ne-Yo, Afrojack, & Nayer…Give Me Everything (2011) 8.2 m
  • Thelma Aoyama…Soba ni lur ne (2009) 8.2 m

    8 million:

  • Nirvana…Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)
  • The Animals…The House of the Rising Sun (1964)
  • The Kingsmen…Louie Louie (1963)
  • Vernon Dalhart.. The Prisoner’s Song (1925) **
  • Beyonce with Jay-Z…Crazy in Love (2003)
  • The Sugarhill Gang…Rapper’s Delight (1979)
  • Puff Daddy, Faith Evans & 112…I’ll Be Missing You (1997)
  • Whitney Houston…I Wanna Dance with Somebody (1987)
  • Mahalia Jackson…Move on Up a Little Higher (1948)
  • Ricky Martin…Livin’ La Vida Loca (1999)
  • Enrique Iglesias…Hero (2001)
  • Taylor Swift…Love Story (2008)
  • Mary Hopkin…Those Were the Days (1968)
  • Shocking Blue…Venus (1969)
  • Paul Hardcastle…19 (1985)
  • Black Eyed Peas…My Humps (2005)
  • Aqua…Barbie Girl (1997)
  • Georgie Fame…The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  • Rocco Granata…Marina (1959)
  • Modern Talking…You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul (1985)
  • O-Zone…Dragostea din tei (2003)
  • Boney M…Ma Baker (1978)
  • Freddy Quinn…Heimweh (1956)
  • Richard Sanderson…Reality (1980)
  • Utada Hikaru…Flavor of Life (2007)

    7+ million:

  • Sam Smith…Stay with Me (2014) 7.94 m
  • Pink…So What (2008) 7.8 m
  • Katy Perry with Snoop Dogg…California Gurls (2010) 7.78 m
  • Cee-Lo Green…Fuck You (2010) 7.73 m
  • Beyonce…Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) (2008) 7.7 m
  • Leona Lewis…Bleeding Love (2007) 7.7 m
  • Eminem…Lose Yourself (2002) 7.6 m
  • Bruno Mars…Locked Out of Heaven (2012) 7.6 m
  • Nelly & Kelly Rowland…Dilemma (2002) 7.6 m
  • One Republic…Counting Stars (2013) 7.56 m
  • Katy Perry…Teenage Dream (2010) 7.53 m
  • Rihanna…Diamonds (2012) 7.5 m
  • Maroon 5…Sugar (2014) 7.42 m
  • Lady Gaga with Beyonce…Telephone (2009) 7.4 m
  • Avril Lavigne…Girlfriend (2007) 7.3 m
  • Black Eyed Peas…The Time (Dirty Bit) (2010) 7.3 m
  • Katy Perry…Hot N Cold (2008) 7.27 m
  • Ashanti with Ja Rule…Foolish (2002) 7.2 m
  • Nicki Minaj…Starships (2012) 7.2 m
  • Michel Telo…Ai Se Eu Te Pego (2011) 7.2 m
  • Ed Sheeran…Thinking Out Loud (2014) 7.02 m

    7 million:

  • The Beatles…Let It Be (1970)
  • Roy Orbison…(Oh) Pretty Woman (1964)
  • Elvis Presley…Suspicious Minds (1969)
  • Elvis Presley…All Shook Up (1957)
  • Chic…Le Freak (1978)
  • Spice Girls…Wannabe (1996)
  • a-ha…Take on Me (1985)
  • Queen…Another One Bites the Dust (1980)
  • Green Day…Boulevard of Broken Dreams (2004)
  • The Beatles…Can’t Buy Me Love (1964)
  • R. Kelly…I Believe I Can Fly (1996)
  • Iggy Azalea with Charli XCX…Fancy (2014)
  • Bobby Goldsboro…Honey (1968)
  • Tony Orlando & Dawn…Knock Three Times (1970)
  • Christina Aguilera…Genie in a Bottle (1999)
  • Scott McKenzie…San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) (1967)
  • Morris Albert…Feelings (1975)
  • Usher with will.i.am…OMG (2010)
  • David Seville & The Chipmunks…The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) (1958)
  • Royal Scots Dragoon Guards…Amazing Grace (1972)
  • The Beatles…Do You Want to Know a Secret? (1963)
  • Charlie Gracie…Butterfly (1957)
  • Las Ketchup…Aserejé (The Ketchup Song) (2002)
  • Julie Rogers…The Wedding (La Novia) (1964)
  • Pussycat…Mississippi (1976)
  • Ricky Valance…Tell Laura I Love Her (1960)
  • Danyel Gerard…Butterfly (1971)
  • Adamo…Tombe Le Neige (1965)
  • Andrea Bocelli…Con te Partiro (1997)
  • Exile…Lovers Again (2007)

    6+ million:

  • Florida Georgia Line…Cruise (2012) 6.92 m
  • Coldplay…Viva La Vida (2008) 6.91 m
  • Maroon 5…One More Night (2012) 6.9 m
  • The Weeknd…The Hills (2015) 6.9 m
  • Lady Antebellum…Need You Now (2009) 6.84 m
  • Taylor Swift…Blank Space (2014) 6.75 m
  • Bruno Mars…That’s What I Like (2016) 6.74 m
  • Queen…Bohemian Rhapsody (1975) 6.72 m
  • Beyonce…Irreplaceable (2006) 6.7 m
  • Taylor Swift…I Knew You Were Trouble (2012) 6.7 m
  • Flo Rida…Whistle (2012) 6.6 m
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with Ray Dalton…Can’t Hold Us (2011) 6.56 m
  • Culture Club…Do You Really Want to Hurt Me (1982) 6.5 m
  • Britney Spears…Toxic (2004) 6.5 m
  • Bruno Mars…The Lazy Song (2010) 6.5 m
  • Flo Rida with Sia…Wild Ones (2011) 6.5 m
  • Britney Spears…Womanizer (2008) 6.5 m
  • Flo Rida with Ke$ha…Right Round (2009) 6.46 m
  • Michael Jackson…Billie Jean (1983) 6.43 m
  • Jay-Z with Alicia Keys…Empire State of Mind (2009) 6.42 m
  • Foster the People…Pumped Up Kicks (2010) 6.42 m
  • Snow Patrol…Chasing Cars (2006) 6.41 m
  • T.I….Whatever You Like (2008) 6.33 m
  • Michael Jackson…Thriller (1982) 6.3 m
  • Rihanna…Only Girl in the World (2010) 6.2 m
  • Kiseki…Greeeen (2009) 6.2 m
  • The Jackson 5…I’ll Be There (1970) 6.1 m
  • Paramore…Crushcrushcrush (2007) 6.08 m
  • The Lumineers…Ho Hey (2012) 6.01 m
  • Taylor Swift…We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (2012) 6.01 m

    6 million:

  • Simon & Garfunkel…Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
  • Gene Austin…My Blue Heaven (1927) **
  • Abba…Dancing Queen (1976)
  • Peerless Quartet…Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1911) *
  • The Beatles…She Loves You (1963)
  • The Jackson 5…I Want You Back (1969)
  • Jerry Lee Lewis…Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (1957)
  • George Michael…Careless Whisper (1984)
  • Harry MacDonough…Down by the Old Mill Stream (1911) *
  • The Archies…Sugar, Sugar (1969)
  • Debby Boone…You Light Up My Life (1977)
  • Tony Orlando & Dawn…Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree (1973)
  • Madonna…Vogue (1990)
  • Bonnie Tyler…Total Eclipse of the Heart (1983)
  • The Champs…Tequila (1958)
  • The Tokens…The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) (1961)
  • Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters…Jingle Bells (1943)
  • Pussycat Dolls with Busta Rhymes…Don’t Cha (2005)
  • Lou Bega…Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…) (1999)
  • Jeannie C. Riley…Harper Valley P.T.A. (1968)
  • Beyonce…Halo (2008)
  • Rihanna…Disturbia (2008)
  • SSgt Barry Sadler…The Ballad of the Green Berets (1966)
  • Britney Spears…Oops! I Did It Again (2000)
  • Neil Diamond…Cracklin’ Rosie (1970)
  • Abba…Waterloo (1974)
  • Jay Sean with Lil Wayne…Down (2009)
  • Bonnie Tyler…It’s a Heartache (1977)
  • Miley Cyrus…Party in the U.S.A. (2009)
  • The Band Perry…If I Die Young (2010)
  • Elvis Presley…Surrender/Lonely Man (1961)
  • Janet Jackson…Together Again (1997)
  • New Seekers…I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (1971)
  • George Baker Selection…Una Paloma Blanca (1975)
  • AWOL Nation…Sail (2011)
  • Andre Brasseur…Early Bird (1965)
  • Machiko Soga…Oba-Q Ondo (1966)
  • Tee Set…Ma Belle Amie (1969)

    * Sales exclusively from sheet music sales. No particular artist identified.
    ** Includes sheet music sales


    Resources and Related Links:
  • 7 comments:

    1. This is wonderful.

      In this age of instant information, one rarely finds lists like these that were personally complied by someone instead of just copy-pasted off of Wikipedia or some other site.

      ReplyDelete
    2. To the compiler of this list,
      I recommend he or she visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_singles_worldwide, where I have added and continue to add songs.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. The Wikipedia link was one of my sources (see the link in the first paragraph to go to all the sources), but I had last looked at it in 2010. As a result of your comment, though, I revisited the link and have updated this post. Thanks!

        Delete
    3. Great list. But...
      I've read somewhere that 'A perfect day' by Carrie Jacobs-Bond (1910) sold 25 million copies of sheet music, and i could imagine that a largish number of recordings have been sold during the subsequent hundred-odd years. What say you?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hmm. Had to do some research on this. I found an NPR article (https://www.npr.org/2009/08/29/112348069/remembering-composer-carrie-jacobs-bond) that said all 200 songs by Carrie Jacobs-Bond sold a combined 20 million in sheet music. In my database I have "A Perfect Day" noted as selling 3 million in sheet music. The Wikipedia page for "A Perfect Day" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Perfect_Day_(song)) does say it sold 25 million in sheet music, but the link it cites is broken. Finally, a Britannica.com entry (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Carrie-Jacobs-Bond) says "A Perfect Day" had sold 5 million copies of sheet music by the early 1920s. I'm thinking the 5 million seems to be the most accurate figure, but trying to figure out sales for old songs is no easy task. Thanks for the question! - Dave

        Delete
      2. And thank you Dave for the reply. The figure I asked you about did seem excessive, and even five M is an amazing number. The market for sheet music must be quite a bit smaller now than in the olden days...

        Delete