Pop quiz: What is the best selling single in the history of music? Is it a song from Michael Jackson? Elvis? The Beatles? Madonna? Weird Al? Vanilla Ice? The Baha Men? Those Macarena guys? What happens when you also include sales of digital singles on platforms like iTunes? Are we now talking about Justin Bieber? Katy Perry? Britney Spears? Well, the truth is that while each of the artists we've just mentioned have sold a very impressive number of both physical and digital singles, none of them holds the record for highest selling single of all time (physical or digital). In fact, none of the artists we've just mentioned has released a song that even ranks in the top 10 on either list. As if that's not crazy enough, I guarantee that 99% of the people reading this article have never even heard of the artist (or the song) coming in at both #1 and #2 on the list of highest selling digital singles. Kind of crazy stuff…
The Best Selling Physical Singles Of All Time:
#1) Bing Crosby "White Christmas" (1942) – 50 million physical singles sold
#2) Elton John "Candle in the Wind 1997" (1997) – 33 million
#3) Bing Crosby "Silent Night" (1935) – 30 million
#4) Bill Haley & His Comets "Rock Around the Clock" (1954) – 25 million
#5) USA for Africa "We Are the World" (1985) – 20 million
#6) Whitney Houston "I Will Always Love You" (1992) – 20 million
#7) The Ink Spots "If I Didn't Care" (1939) – 19 million
#8) Baccara "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie" (1977) – 16 million
#9) Celine Dion "My Heart Will Go On" (1997) – 15 million
#10) Mariah Carey "All I Want for Christmas Is You" (1997) – 14 million
Fun Fact: In addition to being the the best selling single of all time (by a long shot) "White Christmas" is probably the most famous Christmas song of all time. This is ironic when you consider the fact that it was written by Irving Berlin, a Jewish immigrant from Russia.
Another Fun Fact: Whitney Houston did not actually write"I Will Always Love You". That honor, and the vast majority of the song's royalties, belongs to Dolly Parton. In the 22 years since the song was re-popularized by Whitney, Dolly has earned tens of millions of dollars in royalties…. without even lifting a finger. That's why being a songwriter is so awesome.
The Best Selling Digital Singles Of All Time:
#1) S.H.E. featuring Jay Chou "Desert Island" (2010) – 18.6 million digital singles sold
#2) Jay Chou "Fireworks Cool Easily" (2010) – 17.7 million
#3) Kesha "TiK ToK" (2009) – 15 million
#4) The Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling" (2009) – 15 million
#5) Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell "Blurred Lines" (2013) – 14.8 million
#6) Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera "Moves like Jagger" (2011) – 14.4 million
#7) Adele "Rolling in the Deep" (2010) – 14 million
#8) Lady Gaga "Poker Face" (2008) – 14 million
#9) LMFAO "Party Rock Anthem" (2011) – 14 million
#10) Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz "Thrift Shop" (2012) – 13.4 million
Fun Fact: "S.H.E." is a Taiwanese girl pop group that was formed in 2001 and has since gone on to become one of the most popular musical acts in the Asian world. Their 2006/2007 tour grossed $200 million in under 5 months. and the three girl's have endorsement deals with a wide range of companies including Coca-Cola, Baush & Lomb, China Mobile and even World of Warcraft. The song "Desert Island" was the fourth track on album titled SHERO. That album's tracks sold over 43 million tracks in China alone.
Another Fun Fact: Jay Chou, who is featured on the #1 highest selling digital song and holds the record alone for #2, is Asian guy who co-starred with Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet. The Taiwanese singer has sold over 30 million albums worldwide to date. In China, Jay appears in commercials for Sprite alongside Kobe Bryant. He also has his own line of ASUS Computers and has previously endorsed Levi's, Motorola and Panasonic. The 35 year old's net worth is $75 million.