Ever wonder what the best-selling single of all time is? It’s arguable that the internet has largely killed off many time-honoured topics of conversation. Young people today will never know the joys of speculative debates concerning, for instance, the identity of the largest city in the world (it’s Tokyo, by the way, with nearly 38 million inhabitants). Nowadays, a brief glance at your mobile will put paid to all argument. I fully realise, of course, that this article is adding to the problem, but the temptation is too great. Who wouldn’t want to know the name of the all-time best-selling song? Let alone the top five!
The answers might surprise you.
- “White Christmas” (1942) by Bing Crosby. – Sales: 50 Million
The classy crooner reigned supreme before Frank Sinatra turned up to steal the show. Sinatra, in turn, was ingloriously toppled off the throne by the fiery comet of Elvis Presley and rock ‘n roll. “White Christmas,” however, remains a beloved seasonal classic.
- “Candle in the Wind” (1997) by Elton John. Sales: 33 Million
Originally released by Elton in 1973 as an ode to Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe, this re-purposed song, released as a tribute following the death of Princess Diana in 1997, captured the emotions of millions.
- “In the Summertime” (1970) by Mungo Jerry. Sales: 30 Million
British pop-rockers Mungo Jerry, named after characters from T S Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” enjoyed a run of success in the 70s, the peak of which was “In the Summertime.” This track, of course, is rarely played on mainstream radio these days, thanks to the decidedly irresponsible lyric: “have a drink, have a drive, go out and see what you might find.”
- “Rock Around the Clock” (1954) by Bill Haley & His Comets. Sales: 25 Million
It might sound tame by modern standards, but back in its day, “Rock Around The Clock” helped kick-start the rock ‘n roll revolution. The then-middle-aged Haley was swiftly overtaken by younger, edgier artists.
- “I Will Always Love You” (1992) by Whitney Houston. Sales: 20 Million
To those of us who lived through it, this song spent what felt like decades at the top of the charts. That’s not to put down Ms Houston’s fine ballad, but the song is arguably responsible for some truly awful karaoke nights.