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.

For the purposes of calculating sales, a single is currently defined by the Official Charts Company (OCC) as either a 'single bundle' having no more than four tracks and not lasting longer than 25 minutes or one digital audio track not longer than 15 minutes with a minimum sale price of 40 pence.[1] The rules have changed many times as technology has developed, the most notable being the inclusion of digital downloads in 2004 and streaming in 2014.

The best-selling single in the UK is "Something About the Way You Look Tonight"/ Candle in the Wind 1997" , a double A-side released by Elton John following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Since September 1997, the single has sold over 4.93 million copies in the UK.[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]

The highest-selling by a solo female artist is "Believe" by Cher – released in October 1998, it has sold over 1.83 million copies in the UK.[5]

The highest-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. It has since sold more than 1.88 million copies.[5] It is beaten when streaming is taken into account by "All of Me" by John Legend with over 2.1 million combined sales.[6]

The highest-selling single (paid for purchases) in the 21st century is "Happy" by Pharrell Williams, which has sold 1.93 million;[5] it overtook "Anything Is Possible" / "Evergreen" by Will Young in 2015.[7]

The most streamed song is "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran with over 200 million streams (2 million equivalent sales) from 2017. Twenty other songs have been streamed over 100 million times, including two more by Ed Sheeran.[6]

Best-selling singles based on paid-for purchases[edit]

Until June 2014, only a paid download or a purchase of a physical single counted as a sale. Based on this definition, these are the 50 best-selling singles in the UK. Sales positions are current as of 14 June 2018.[5]

No. Single Artist Record label[a] Released[a] Chart
peak[a]
Traditional sales[b]
1 "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" / "Candle in the Wind 1997" Elton John Rocket September 1997 1 4,935,426
2 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid Mercury November 1984 1 3,802,066
3 "Bohemian Rhapsody"
"Bohemian Rhapsody" / "These Are the Days of Our Lives"
Queen EMI October 1975
November 1991
1 2,540,604
4 "Mull of Kintyre" / "Girls' School" Wings Parlophone November 1977 1 2,086,183
5 "You're the One That I Want" John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John RSO May 1978 1 2,072,035
6 "Relax" Frankie Goes to Hollywood ZTT January 1984 1 2,066,230
7 "Rivers of Babylon" / "Brown Girl in the Ring" Boney M. Atlantic/Hansa April 1978 1 2,032,656
8 "Happy" Pharrell Williams Columbia November 2013 1 1,930,000[5]
9 "She Loves You" The Beatles Parlophone August 1963 1 1,922,275
10 "Love Is All Around" Wet Wet Wet PolyGram May 1994 1 1,898,790
11 "Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord" Boney M. Atlantic/Hansa November 1978 1 1,885,274
12 "Last Christmas" / "Everything She Wants" Wham! Epic December 1984 2 1,880,000[5]
13 "I Just Called to Say I Love You" Stevie Wonder Motown August 1984 1 1,874,225
14 "Unchained Melody" / "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover" Robson & Jerome RCA May 1995 1 1,867,755
15 "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" Bryan Adams A&M June 1991 1 1,848,154
16 "Barbie Girl" Aqua Universal October 1997 1 1,844,310
17 "Believe" Cher WEA October 1998 1 1,826,573
18 "I Want to Hold Your Hand" The Beatles Parlophone November 1963 1 1,810,829
19 "Anything Is Possible" / "Evergreen" Will Young S February 2002 1 1,795,213
20 "Imagine" John Lennon Apple October 1975 1 1,714,351
21 "Blurred Lines" Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams Interscope May 2013 1 1,667,615
22 "I'll Be Missing You" Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans Bad Boy June 1997 1 1,663,303
23 "Uptown Funk" Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars RCA December 2014 1 1,647,310
24 "Eye of the Tiger" Survivor Scotti Brothers July 1982 1 1,650,293
25 "Someone like You" Adele XL January 2011 1 1,644,597
26 "I Will Always Love You" Whitney Houston Arista October 1992 1 1,642,360
27 "Summer Nights" John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John RSO September 1978 1 1,640,672
28 "Don't You Want Me" The Human League Virgin November 1981 1 1,637,503
29 "Two Tribes" Frankie Goes to Hollywood ZTT May 1984 1 1,629,287
30 "Gangsta's Paradise" Coolio featuring L.V. Tommy Boy October 1995 1 1,585,504
31 "My Heart Will Go On" Celine Dion Epic February 1998 1 1,583,276
32 "Three Lions"
"3 Lions '98"
Baddiel & Skinner & The Lightning Seeds Epic June 1996 1 1,577,260
33 "...Baby One More Time" Britney Spears Jive February 1999 1 1,558,054
34 "Perfect Day" Various Artists Chrysalis November 1997 1 1,550,017
35 "Can't Buy Me Love" The Beatles Parlophone March 1964 1 1,547,454
36 "Moves Like Jagger" Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera A&M/Octone August 2011 2 1,536,041
37 "Careless Whisper" George Michael Epic July 1984 1 1,523,852
38 "Karma Chameleon" Culture Club Virgin September 1983 1 1,528,498
39 "Tears" Ken Dodd Columbia August 1965 1 1,523,690
40 "Somebody That I Used to Know" Gotye featuring Kimbra Island January 2012 1 1,515,527
41 "Wonderwall" Oasis Creation May 1995 2 1,502,270
42 "Y.M.C.A." Village People Mercury November 1978 1 1,513,677
43 "Wake Me Up" Avicii Positiva/PRMD June 2013 1 1,483,346
44 "I Gotta Feeling" The Black Eyed Peas Interscope September 2009 1 1,477,778
45 "Get Lucky" Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams Columbia April 2013 1 1,471,356
46 "Killing Me Softly" Fugees Ruffhouse June 1996 1 1,457,641
47 "The Power of Love" Jennifer Rush CBS May 1985 1 1,456,087
48 "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock" Bill Haley & His Comets Decca December 1954 1 1,439,196
49 "It Wasn't Me" Shaggy MCA February 2001 1 1,428,204
50 "Come On Eileen" Dexys Midnight Runners Mercury October 1982 1 1,425,474

Best-selling songs based on combined sales[edit]

From 2014 streaming has counted towards sales (sometimes called "combined sales" or "chart sales") at the rate of 100 streams equal to one download or physical purchase, although the singles chart no longer uses this ratio. In September 2017, the OCC changed their definition of a 'million seller' to include streaming.[6] These are the 50 biggest selling songs based on combined physical, download and streaming sales.

No. Single Artist Record label[a] Chart
peak[a]
Released[a] Sales Streaming equivalent Combined sales
1 "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" / "Candle in the Wind 1997" Elton John Rocket 1 1997 4,935,936 15,472 4,950,898
2 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid Mercury 1 1984 3,802,066 140,993 3,943,060
3 "Shape of You" Ed Sheeran 1 2017 754,754+ 2,121,706+ 3,006,404[8]
4 "Bohemian Rhapsody" Queen 1 1975 2,540,604 254,430 2,795,034
5 "Uptown Funk" Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars 1 2014 1,647,310 1,076,160 2,723,470
6 "Happy" Pharrell Williams 1 2013 1,921,805 707,851 2,629,657
7 "Thinking Out Loud" Ed Sheeran 1 2014 1,219,184 1,302,119 2,521,302
8 "One Dance" Drake featuring Wizkid & Kyla 1 2016 553,973 1,791,007 2,344,981
9 "Rather Be" Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne 1 2014 1,283,122 935,575 2,218,697
10 "Sorry" Justin Bieber 1 2015 724,188 1,443,719 2,167,907
11 "All of Me" John Legend 2 2014 1,259,708 896,418 2,156,126
12 "You're the One that I Want" John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John 1 1978 2,072,035 82,897 2,154,932
13 "Relax" Frankie Goes to Hollywood 1 1983 2,066,230 82,092 2,148,322
14 "Mull of Kintyre" / "Girls' School" Wings 1 1977 2,086,183 1,066 2,087,249
15 "Last Christmas" / "Everything She Wants" Wham! 2 1984 1,825,115 246,581 2,071,696
16 "Love Yourself" Justin Bieber 1 2015 718,549 1,340,666 2,059,215
17 "Rivers of Babylon"/"Brown Girl in the Ring" Boney M 1 1978 2,032,656 6,164 2,038,820
18 "Someone Like You" Adele 1 2011 1,644,597 351,772 1,996,369
19 "Wonderwall" Oasis 2 1995 1,502,270 493,671 1,995,940
20 "Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord" Boney M 1 1978 1,885,274 91,725 1,976,999
21 "Wake Me Up!" Avicii 1 2013 1,483,346 484,035 1,967,381
22 "She Loves You" The Beatles 1 1963 1,922,275 31,099 1,953,374
23 "Take Me to Church" Hozier 2 2013 934,466 1,017,851 1,952,317
24 "Blurred Lines" Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams 1 2013 1,667,615 284,004 1,951,619
25 "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" Bryan Adams 1 1991 1,848,154 90,382 1,938,536
26 "Love Is All Around" Wet Wet Wet 1 1994 1,898,790 38,951 1,937,741
27 "Believe" Cher 1 1998 1,826,573 101,020 1,927,593
28 "Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)" Omi 1 2014 861,086 1,057,439 1,918,526
29 "I Just Called to Say I Love You" Stevie Wonder 1 1984 1,874,225 38,303 1,912,528
30 "Despacito (Remix)" Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber 1 2017 566,425 1,334,174 1,900,599
31 "Barbie Girl" Aqua 1 1997 1,844,310 52,936 1,897,247
32 "Eye of the Tiger" Survivor 1 1982 1,650,293 223,045 1,873,338
33 "Unchained Melody" /
"White Cliffs of Dover"
Robson Green & Jerome Flynn 1 1995 1,867,755 4,214 1,871,969
34 "I Want to Hold Your Hand" The Beatles 1 1963 1,810,829 47,899 1,858,728
35 "Hello" Adele 1 2015 948,618 906,431 1,855,050
36 "What Do You Mean?" Justin Bieber 1 2015 533,581 1,320,256 1,853,837
37 "Let Her Go" Passenger 2 2012 1,243,336 589,019 1,832,354
38 "Get Lucky" Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams 1 2013 1,471,356 349,989 1,821,344
39 "Anything Is Possible" / "Evergreen" Will Young 1 2002 1,795,213 1,874 1,797,087
40 "Imagine" John Lennon 1 1975 1,714,351 76,141 1,790,492
41 "Gangsta's Paradise" Coolio featuring L.V. 1 1995 1,585,504 202,542 1,788,045
42 "I Will Always Love You" Whitney Houston 1 1992 1,642,360 140,962 1,783,322
43 "Don't You Want Me?" Human League 1 1981 1,637,503 144,273 1,781,776
44 "I'll Be Missing You" Puff Daddy & Faith Evans 1 1997 1,663,303 106,331 1,769,634
45 "Cheap Thrills" Sia 2 2015 517,082 1,247,640 1,764,721
46 "Moves Like Jagger" Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera 2 2011 1,536,041 207,813 1,743,854
47 "Somebody That I Used to Know" Gotye featuring Kimbra 1 2011 1,515,527 212,192 1,727,719
48 "Mr. Brightside" The Killers 10 2004 967,180 750,991 1,718,170
49 "Pompeii" Bastille 2 2013 959,693 749,011 1,708,704
50 "7 Years" Lukas Graham 1 2015 653,657 1,054,211 1,707,868

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f The record labels, dates and chart peaks are those given by the OCC.
  2. ^ The sales are those given by the OCC as of 19 September 2017,[6] unless stated.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rules for Chart Eligibility: Singles" (PDF). London: Official Charts Company. April 2013. p. 4. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Myers, Justin (9 February 2016). "Elton John's Official Top 20 most downloaded songs". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 April 2016. 
  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. Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Myers, Justin (14 June 2018). "The UK's biggest selling singles of all time". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 14 June 2018. 
  6. ^ a b c d Copsey, Rob (19 September 2017). "The UK's Official Chart 'millionaires' revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 September 2017. 
  7. ^ Copsey, Rob (11 June 2015). "The Official Top 40 Biggest Selling Singles of the Millennium so far revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Jones, Alan (14 October 2017). "Official Charts Analysis: Post Malone secures second week atop singles chart". Music Week. Retrieved 14 October 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 

External links[edit]