10 Best-Selling Songs of All Time

Songs are the ultimate product of making music. They are a product of art, but at the end of the day also big business. The most famous songs are known all over the world. Not only are they constantly played on the radio, hummed under the shower, or sung in karaoke bars, they are or were also being bought millions upon millions of times.

The following ranks the Top 10 songs by the number of records sold worldwide. The ranking of the Top 10 songs includes both physical as well as digital record sales.

The Top 10 Best-Selling Songs of All Time

1. “White Christmas”

Copies sold: 52 million

Released in: 1942

Written by: Irving Berlin

Main genre: Classic Christmas Pop

Most successful version sung by: Harry Crosby (a.k.a. Bing Crosby)

“White Christmas” is a song by Irving Berlin that evokes an old-fashioned Christmas spirit. The song was written by Berlin for the musical film Holiday Inn, released in 1942. The composition won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 15th Academy Awards.

Since its release, “White Christmas” has been covered by many artists, with the version sung by Bing Crosby being the best-selling single worldwide (in terms of physical record sales), with an estimated sales of more than 50 million copies. If the numbers of the other versions of the song are added to those of Crosby, the sale of the song exceeds 100 million.

2. “Shape of You”

Copies sold: 42 million

Released in: 2017

Written by: Ed Sheeran, Steve Mac & Johnny McDaid

Main genre: Pop

Most successful version sung by: Ed Sheeran

“Shape of You” is a song by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. It was released on January 6, 2017 as one of the double lead singles from his third studio album ÷ (2017), along with “Castle on the Hill”. The dancehall-tinged pop song was written by Ed Sheeran, Steve Mac, and Johnny McDaid. Due to the interpolation of “No Scrubs” from TLC, Kandi Burruss, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle and Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs are also credited as writers. The song was produced by Sheeran and Mac.

“Shape of You” reached #1 on the singles chart in 34 countries, including the US Billboard Hot 100 (and later became the most successful song of 2017), as well as the UK, Australian and Canadian singles charts. The song held the number one spot on the Canadian Hot 100 for a record-breaking 16 consecutive weeks, 14 weeks on the UK Singles Chart, and 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. 

On December 10, 2018, the song became the first song to reach 2 billion streams on Spotify and is currently the most-streamed song on the service since September 21, 2017, when it overtook “One Dance” by Drake as the most streamed song on Spotify. 

It was also the most-streamed song of the decade on Spotify with 2.4 billion streams in December 2019. It was the best-selling song of 2017 and the decade in the UK. “Shape of You” was the best-selling song of 2017 and the second-best-selling digital song worldwide, with combined sales and track-equivalent streams of 26.6 million units, according to the IFPI. 

In 2018, it sold an additional 14.9 million copies, making it one of the best-selling digital singles of all time, selling a total of 41.5 million copies worldwide. It also appeared on Billboard’s annual chart for a second time in 2018, at No. 71, and was named the number-one song on Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 chart of the 2010 decade in 2019.

“Shape of You” was nominated for British Single of the Year and British Video of the Year at the 2018 Brit Awards. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. In 2018, Billboard ranked “Shape of You” as the ninth most successful song of all time as the magazine celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Hot 100.

3. “Despacito”

Copies sold: 38 million

Released in: 2017

Written by: Luis Rodriguez, Ramon Ayala & Erika Ender

Main genre: Latin Pop

“Despacito” (American Spanish: [despa’sito]; “Slow down”) is a song by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi featuring Puerto Rican rapper and singer Daddy Yankee as the lead single from Fonsi’s 2019 studio album Vida. It was released on January 12, 2017, written by Fonsi, Erika Ender and Daddy Yankee, and produced by Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. Justin Bieber’s remix of the song was released on April 17, 2017, and it helped boost its performance in a number of countries, including several number ones.

The song reached the top of the charts in 47 countries and the top 10 in six others. In the United States, it was the first primarily Spanish-language song to top the Billboard Hot 100 since “Macarena” by Los del Río in 1996, and was subsequently the longest-running number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 with 16 weeks, as well as the longest-running number one song on the Hot Latin Songs chart with 56 weeks.

From August 2017 to November 2020, it was the most-viewed YouTube video of all time and was the first video on the site to reach the milestones of three, four, five, six and seven billion views.

4. “Candle in the Wind”

Copies sold: 33 million

Released in: 1997

Written by: Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Main genre: Pop

Most successful version sung by: Elton John

“Candle in the Wind” is a threnody composed by English musician Elton John and songwriter Bernie Taupin, and performed by John. The song was originally written in 1973, in honor of Marilyn Monroe, who had died 11 years earlier.

John performed a rewritten version of “Candle in the Wind 1997” as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the original version of the song as No. 347 among its 500 greatest songs of all time in 2004.

5. “In the Summertime”

Copies sold: 31 million

Released in: 1970

Written by: Raymond Dorset

Main genre: Skiffle

Most successful version sung by: Mungo Jerry (band)

“In the Summertime” is the debut single of the British rock band Mungo Jerry. Written and composed by their lead singer Ray Dorset, it celebrates the carefree days of summer. 

In 1970, it reached number one on the charts worldwide, including seven weeks on the UK singles chart, two weeks on one of the Canadian charts and number three on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the US. It became one of the best-selling singles of all time, eventually selling 30 million copies.

6. “Silent Night”

Copies sold: 30 million

Released in: 1818

Written by: Joseph Mohr

Main genre: Christmas Carol

Most successful version sung by: Harry Crosby (a.k.a. Bing Crosby)

“Silent Night” (German: “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht”) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011. 

Many singers have recorded the song across many music genres. Bing Crosby’s 1935 version sold 10 million copies as a single.

7. “Rock Around the Clock”

Copies sold: 25 million 

Released in: 1954

Written by: Maxamus Freedman & James Myers

Main genre: Rock ‘n Roll

Most successful version sung by: Bill Haley & His Comets (band)

“Rock Around the Clock” is a rock and roll song in 12-bar blues format written by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers (the latter under the pseudonym “Jimmy De Knight”) in 1952. 

The most famous and successful version was recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets for American Decca in 1954. The song was number one on the British charts for two months. The recording was again on the British singles charts in the 1960s and 1970s.

8. “I Will Always Love You”

Copies sold: 24 million

Released in: 1982

Written by: Dolly Parton

Main genre: Country Pop

Most successful version sung by: Whitney Houston

“I Will Always Love You” is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton in 1973. The song was written as a farewell song for her business partner and mentor Porter Wagoner, and expressed Parton’s decision to pursue a solo career. 

The country single was released in 1974. The song was a commercial success for Parton, twice reaching the top position on the Billboard Hot Country Songs: first in June 1974 and then again in October 1982 with a re-recording for the soundtrack of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Whitney Houston recorded a soul ballad arrangement of the song for the 1992 film The Bodyguard. Houston’s single stayed at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 14 weeks, setting a new record. It became one of the best-selling singles of all time and the best-selling single by a woman.

9. “Something Just Like This”

Copies Sold: 23 million

Released in: 2017

Written by: Andrew Taggart, Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland & Will Champion

Main genre: Electronic Dance Music

Most successful version sung by: The Chainsmokers & Coldplay (bands)

“Something Just Like This” is a song by American electronic music duo The Chainsmokers and British rock band Coldplay. It was released on February 22, 2017, as the second single from The Chainsmokers’ debut album Memories…Do Not Open and as the lead single from Coldplay’s thirteenth album EP Kaleidoscope.

The single reached the top ten of many charts around the world, including #2 on the UK Singles Chart and the Australian ARIA Chart, and #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

10. “Perfect”

Copies Sold: 22 million

Released in: 2017

Written by: Ed Sheeran

Main genre: Pop

Most successful version sung by: Ed Sheeran

“Perfect” is a song by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran from his third studio album ÷ (2017). Following the album’s release, it entered the UK singles chart at number four. On August 21, 2017, Billboard announced that “Perfect” would be the fourth single from the album. The song became the third single from the album to be played on pop radio in the United States (the fourth overall) on September 26, 2017. 

The song originally reached number four on the UK charts in March 2017 and re-entered the same year. It eventually reached number one on the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100 in December 2017. “Perfect” became the UK Christmas hit of 2017 and also peaked in sixteen other countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.

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