List of best-selling singles in the United Kingdom

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"Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" by Elton John is the best-selling single in the UK.

A single is a type of music release defined by the Official Charts Company (OCC) as having no more than four tracks and not lasting longer than 25 minutes;[1] the best-selling single in the UK is "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight", a double A-side released by Elton John following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Since September 1997, the single has sold over 4,900,000 copies in the UK. The highest-selling by a solo female artist is "Believe" by Cher – released in October 1998, the single has sold 1,770,000 copies in the UK, and is the country's 16th biggest-selling single.[2]

Sales of singles have been monitored and charted in the UK since 1952, when Percy Dickins of New Musical Express (NME) telephoned around 20 record stores and aggregated their best-selling singles into a hit parade. Dickins published this Top 12 chart in NME on 14 November 1952.[3][4] Since then, two singles have sold over 3 million copies – "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight", and "Do They Know It's Christmas?", a charity single by Band Aid released in aid of victims of the 1983–85 famine in Ethiopia. A further five singles have sold more than 2 million copies.

The biggest-selling single not to top the UK Singles Chart is "Last Christmas" / "Everything She Wants" by Wham!. Released in December 1984, the single sold more than 500,000 copies in its first week, but was kept off number one by "Do They Know It's Christmas?", and peaked at number two.

Best-selling singles[edit]

Best-selling singles in the UK
No. Single Artist Record label[a] Released[a] Chart
peak[a]
Sales[b]
1 "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something
About the Way You Look Tonight
"
John, EltonElton John Rocket September 1997 1 4,920,000
2 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid Mercury November 1984 1 3,750,000
3 "Bohemian Rhapsody" Queen EMI October 1975 1 2,440,000
4 "Mull of Kintyre" / "Girls' School" Wings Parlophone November 1977 1 2,080,000
5 "You're the One That I Want" Travolta, JohnJohn Travolta and Olivia Newton-John RSO May 1978 1 2,050,000
6 "Relax" Frankie Goes to Hollywood ZTT January 1984 1 2,030,000
7 "Rivers of Babylon" / "Brown Girl in the Ring" Boney M. Atlantic/Hansa April 1978 1 2,020,000
8 "She Loves You" Beatles, TheThe Beatles Parlophone August 1963 1 1,910,000
9 "Love Is All Around" Wet Wet Wet PolyGram May 1994 1 1,860,000
10 "Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord" Boney M. Atlantic/Hansa November 1978 1 1,860,000
11 "Unchained Melody" / "(There'll Be Bluebirds
Over) The White Cliffs of Dover
"
Robson Green & Jerome Flynn RCA May 1995 1 1,860,000
12 "I Just Called to Say I Love You" Wonder, StevieStevie Wonder Motown August 1984 1 1,840,000
13 "Barbie Girl" Aqua Universal October 1997 1 1,800,000
14 "I Want to Hold Your Hand" Beatles, TheThe Beatles Parlophone November 1963 1 1,790,000
15 "Evergreen" / "Anything Is Possible" Young, WillWill Young S February 2002 1 1,790,000
16 "Believe" Cher WEA October 1998 1 1,770,000
17 "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" Adams, BryanBryan Adams A&M June 1991 1 1,750,000
18 "Last Christmas" / "Everything She Wants" Wham! Epic December 1984 2 1,750,000
19 "Imagine" Lennon, JohnJohn Lennon Apple October 1975 1 1,640,000
20 "Summer Nights" Travolta, JohnJohn Travolta and Olivia Newton-John RSO September 1978 1 1,600,000
21 "I'll Be Missing You" Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans Bad Boy June 1997 1 1,590,000
22 "Two Tribes" Frankie Goes to Hollywood ZTT May 1984 1 1,590,000
23 "Don't You Want Me" Human League, TheThe Human League Virgin November 1981 1 1,560,000
24 "I Will Always Love You" Houston, WhitneyWhitney Houston Arista October 1992 1 1,560,000
25 "Blurred Lines" Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams Interscope May 2013 1 1,550,000
26 "Perfect Day" Various artists Chrysalis November 1997 1 1,550,000
27 "Three Lions" Baddiel & Skinner & The Lightning Seeds Epic June 1996 1 1,540,000
28 "Can't Buy Me Love" Beatles, TheThe Beatles Parlophone March 1964 1 1,540,000
29 "Eye of the Tiger" Survivor Scotti Brothers July 1982 1 1,530,000
30 "My Heart Will Go On" Dion, CelineCeline Dion Epic February 1998 1 1,520,000
31 "...Baby One More Time" Spears, BritneyBritney Spears Jive February 1999 1 1,520,000
32 "Someone Like You" Adele XL January 2011 1 1,520,000
33 "Tears" Dodd, KenKen Dodd Columbia August 1965 1 1,520,000
34 "Karma Chameleon" Culture Club Virgin September 1983 1 1,490,000
35 "Gangsta's Paradise" Coolio featuring L.V. Tommy Boy October 1995 1 1,480,000
36 "Y.M.C.A." Village People Mercury November 1978 1 1,470,000
37 "Careless Whisper" Michael, GeorgeGeorge Michael Epic July 1984 1 1,460,000
38 "Moves Like Jagger" Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera A&M/Octone August 2011 2 1,450,000
39 "Somebody That I Used to Know" Gotye featuring Kimbra Island January 2012 1 1,440,000
40 "Rock Around the Clock" Haley & His Comets, BillBill Haley & His Comets Brunswick December 1954 1 1,430,000

According to the OCC, "Happy" by Pharrell Williams had sold 1.52 million copies by July 2014 (and was still selling strongly enough to remain in the Top 40). This would likely place it somewhere in this list around position 30 to 34.[8] "Happy" has been certified as triple platinum (1.8 million units), but this figure includes streaming as well as sales.[9] "Believe" by Cher was also certified as triple platinum in August 2014.

  1. ^ a b c The record labels, dates and chart peaks are those given by the OCC.[5]
  2. ^ The sales are those given by the OCC as of 27 June 2013, except where a more recent OCC figure is available.[6][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rules For Chart Eligibility: Singles" (PDF). London: Official Charts Company. August 2009. p. 5. Archived from the original on 24 June 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  2. ^ Lane, Daniel (7 March 2014). "Adele and Rihanna score UK's latest million selling singles". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Williams, Mark (19 February 2002). "Obituary: Percy Dickins". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Smith, Alan. "50s & 60s UK Charts – The Truth!". davemcaleer.com. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "Daft Punk's Get Lucky becomes one of the UK's biggest selling singles of all-time!". Official Charts Company. 27 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Naughty Boy and Sam Smith smash 1 million UK sales with La La La". Official Charts Company. 10 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Lane, Daniel (2 July 2014). "The Official Top 40 Biggest Selling Singles of 2014 so far!". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  9. ^ ""BPI Certified Awards"". 

External links[edit]