Best Selling Singles of All Time

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Tracking worldwide sales of singles is a tricky thing. There are organizations in most countries that will track and certify sales (in the US, it is RIAA – see my post from December 24, 2017, for an overview of RIAA and their certification process). However, these organizations will only certify sales if requested by someone. Also, RIAA includes streaming plays as equivalent to sales – 150 streams equals one unit sold. This tends to inflate actual sales, particularly in today’s world when so many people stream rather than purchase music.

In any case, there are lists out there that compile the best selling singles worldwide. Here are the songs that have sold over 30 million copies worldwide – this includes both physical singles as well as digital copies (streaming is NOT included). For you old timers out there – don’t be disappointed that the newer songs from the last few years have displaced some of the old classics. Perhaps you haven’t even heard of some of the artists? Well…then go out there and listen to the new stuff too (or at least try too)!

33 Million

Work – Rhianna (featuring Drake) (2016)

33 Million 

Candle In the Wind 1997/Something About The Way You Look Tonight – Elton John (1997 – it was released as a Double A-Side single, this is why both songs are noted)

37 Million

Despacito – Luis Fonsi (featuring Daddy Yankee) (2017)

42 Million

Shape of You – Ed Sheeran (2017)

47 Million

Spotlight – Xiao Zhan (2020)

50 Million

White Christmas – Bing Crosby (1942)

My post from December 24, 2017 has a video of Bing performing White Christmas for the very last time, on his 1977 Christmas special. The show was taped in September that year, Bing died in October, and the show was aired a little more than a month after his death. Go check that out! Here – watch Elton John’s performance of Candle In The Wind at the funeral of Princess Diana. This is the only time that John has performed this version of the song in public, and John has vowed never to perform it again, unless requested by Diana’s sons.



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