20 Best-Selling Songs Of All Time

Thanks to streaming subscription services, coming out with a song that ends up selling millions can be almost impossible nowadays. There was a time, though, when artists focused on record sales as much as anything. All it took was one hit song to sell millions of copies, put your name on the map, and have residuals coming in for decades. Only a handful of singles have sold at least 12 million copies worldwide, and here are the 20 that did that to become the best-selling singles of all time.

1. White Christmas Bing Crosby

White Christmas (Official Video)

Total Sales: 50 Million

Nothing is better for long-term sales than a Christmas classic, and that’s exactly what Bing Crosby accomplished with his 1942 song White Christmas. It is still played to this day on just about every radio station. The song is also a titan in streaming services. Irving Berlin wrote the song for the film Holiday Inn, and the version with Bing Crosby’s vocals remains the original and best-selling.

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2. Candle in the Wind 1997 Elton John

Candle In The Wind 1997

Total Sales: 33 Million

Elton John originally wrote Candle in the Wind as a tribute to the late Marilyn Monroe, then tweaked the song for the late Princess Diana after her death in 1997. Pairing the song with Something About the Way You Look Tonight became an instant classic. Millions worldwide were mourning Diana’s death, and this was the perfect tribute.

It’s difficult to determine which songs of Elton John’s career were his best, but it would be hard to not consider this track one his absolute greatest.

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3. In the Summertime Mungo Jerry

Mungo Jerry - In The Summertime ORIGINAL 1970

Total Sales: 30 Million

Just like Christmas, summer comes and goes each year, so a great song about the most popular season is bound for long-term success. British rock group Mungo Jerry released their ode to summer in 1970 with In the Summertime, which is considered to be the best song of all time about the season. Interestingly enough, lead singer Ray Dorset said it only took 10 minutes to write.

4. Rock Around the Clock Bill Haley & His Comets

Bill Haley & His Comets "Rock Around The Clock" on The Ed Sullivan Show

Total Sales: 25 Million

While some may know it as the original theme song for the show Happy Days, Rock Around the Clock ushered in the era of rock music being successful in the mainstream. The song was a massive success, sticking around on the top of the Billboard charts for months upon its release in the summer of 1954.

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5. It’s Now or Never Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley - It's Now or Never (Official Audio)

Total Sales: 22 Million

There are plenty of Elvis Presley songs that were massive hits around the world, so why was It’s Now or Never by far the best selling? At the time, Presley had been serving in the military and wrote the song while he was stationed in Germany. It’s Now or Never became one of his first releases upon his return, so fans were chomping to hear from him.

6. I Will Always Love You Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You (Official 4K Video)

Total Sales: 20 Million

Before the internet, soundtracks were amongst the best selling albums of all time, and among them was The Bodyguard, which was released in late 1992. On the soundtrack, Whitney Houston sang her version of the Dolly Parton classic “I Will Always Love You”, making it her own with a tremendous vocal performance. This masterclass of singing spent three months as the number one song in the United States.

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7. We Are the World USA for Africa

Total Sales: 20 Million

Singers Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie teamed up with producers Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian for a star-studded song to support humanitarian aid for Africa. Thus, We Are the World was born, featuring the biggest musicians of the time, including Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, and many more. The album raised a whopping $63 million in relief funds.

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8. If I Didn’t Care The Ink Spots

Total Sales: 19 Million

Writer Jack Lawrence penned If I Didn’t Care in the late 1930s, and at first didn’t receive positive feedback. However, Lawrence was certain that the song would be a hit and when The Ink Spots got a hold of it, they made it into the biggest hit of the era. The song, released in January 1939, has been covered endlessly over the years and featured in several films, including The Shawshank Redemption.

9. Yes Sir, I Can Boogie Baccara

Yes Sir, I Can Boogie

Total Sales: 18 Million

For North Americans, this may be the most surprising entry on the list. Flamenco dancers Maria Mendiola and Mayte Mateos from Spain formed a duo named Baccara, releasing the song Yes Sir, I Can Boogie in 1977. The song was unstoppable throughout Europe, reaching the number one spot in just about every country.

10. My Heart Will Go On Céline Dion

My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from "Titanic")

Total Sales: 18 Million

For those that were around when Titanic released, you know that you couldn’t get away from that movie or the soundtrack that featured the Céline Dion hit My Heart Will Go On. The song, which was also featured on her album Let’s Talk About Love, reached number one in just about every English-speaking country and stuck around for a very long time.

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11. All I Want For Christmas Is You Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas Is You (Make My Wish Come True Edition)

Total Sales: 16 Million

Not the first (or last) Christmas song on the list, this Mariah Carey jam is the most modern by a longshot. All I Want For Christmas Is You is an annual tradition, often returning to the number one spot on the Billboard charts each December with no escape for retail workers.

Next: The top Christmas songs of all time (X-mas classics)

12. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You

Total Sales: 15 Million

We now get back into the soundtrack portion of the list, with this Bryan Adams song appearing on the soundtrack for the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Even without the soundtrack boost, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You would have still been a massive hit for the Canadian singer

13. You’re the One That I Want John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

John Travolta And Olivia Newton John - You're The One That I Want

Total Sales: 15 Million

Another soundtrack hit, this duet by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John helped propel Grease into being one of the highest grossing musical films of all time. Even outside of North America, You’re the One That I Want became a massive hit, reaching the top spot in countries including Sweden, Israel, and Belgium, just to name a few.

14. Wind of Change Scorpions

Scorpions - Wind Of Change (Official Music Video)

Total Sales: 14 Million

German rock band Scorpions is most known for their song Rock You Like a Hurricane, but it was Wind of Change that became their best-selling song. That’s because the song came at a time of global change as an anthem to the fall of the Soviet Union.

15. Sweet Mother Prince Nico Mbarga

Total Sales: 13 Million

Another one of those songs that may not be familiar to North Americans, Sweet Mother by Prince Nico Mbarga was released in 1976 and became an anthem across the entire continent of Africa. Sweet Mother was originally rejected by record labels, but was finally released after years of trying to become a massive sensation

16. Sukiyaki Kyu Sakamoto

Total Sales: 13 Million

There’s only one entry on the list from Japan, and it belongs to Kyu Sakamoto. Sukiyaki found success worldwide, reaching number one in the United States. The song sounds like it’s about heartbreak from a relationship, but it is about relations between the United States and Japan.

17. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Gene Autry

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Total Sales: 12.5 Million

The final Christmas song on the list was written a decade before the “Singing Cowboy” Gene Autry got a hold of it in 1949. His version became instantly known around the world and remains a holiday staple all these years later.

Next: Clean Christmas songs for Kids (our picks)

18. I Want To Hold Your Hand The Beatles

The Beatles - I Want To Hold Your Hand - Performed Live On The Ed Sullivan Show 2/9/64

Total Sales: 12 Million

It might be surprising to see just one Beatles song on the list, but the success of one often poached another. I Want To Hold Your Hand became the first chart-topper for the Beatles in the United States, signifying the beginning of the British invasion era of music.

19. Time to Say Goodbye Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman

Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman - Time To Say Goodbye (HD)

Total Sales: 12 Million

Italian song Con te Partiro was released in 1995 as a duet between Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman that took Europe by storm. Though it didn’t chart in North America’s mainstream charts, Time to Say Goodbye went to number one in most European countries and has had several versions released over the years.

20. YMCA The Village People

Village People - YMCA OFFICIAL Music Video 1978

Total Sales: 12 Million

Though it might be seen as a cheesy hit these days, YMCA was a massive hit upon its release in 1978 as a disco anthem. All these years later, you can still hear this song played at just about every sporting venue and boosted interest in YMCA locations worldwide.

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