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.

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 4.93 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] 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 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia. A further five singles have sold more than 2 million copies.

The highest-selling by a solo female artist is "Believe" by Cher – released in October 1998, it has sold over 1.8 million copies in the UK.[5] Boney M. have two entries in the top 10 and The Beatles have three in the top 40.

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 a total of 1.77 million copies.[6]

The highest-selling single in the 21st century is "Happy" by Pharrell Williams, which has sold over 1.81 million;[7] it overtook "Anything Is Possible" / "Evergreen" by Will Young in 2015.[8]

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 40 best-selling singles in the UK.

No. Single Artist Record label[a] Released[a] Chart
peak[a]
Traditional sales[b]
1 "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" John, EltonElton John Rocket September 1997 1 4,930,000[2]
2 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid Mercury November 1984 1 3,780,000[11]
3 "Bohemian Rhapsody"
"Bohemian Rhapsody" / "These Are the Days of Our Lives"
Queen EMI October 1975
November 1991
1 2,500,000[12]
4 "Mull of Kintyre" / "Girls' School" Wings Parlophone November 1977 1 2,080,000[11]
5 "You're the One That I Want" Travolta, JohnJohn Travolta and Olivia Newton-John RSO May 1978 1 2,040,000[13]
6 "Relax" Frankie Goes to Hollywood ZTT January 1984 1 2,040,000[12]
7 "Rivers of Babylon" / "Brown Girl in the Ring" Boney M. Atlantic/Hansa April 1978 1 2,020,000[14]
8 "She Loves You" Beatles, TheThe Beatles Parlophone August 1963 1 1,920,000[15]
9 "Love Is All Around" Wet Wet Wet PolyGram May 1994 1 1,880,000[16]
10 "Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord" Boney M. Atlantic/Hansa November 1978 1 1,870,000[11]
11 "Unchained Melody" / "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover" Robson & Jerome RCA May 1995 1 1,860,000[16]
12 "I Just Called to Say I Love You" Wonder, StevieStevie Wonder Motown August 1984 1 1,840,000
13 "Happy" Pharrell Williams Columbia November 2013 1 1,830,000
14 "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" Adams, BryanBryan Adams A&M June 1991 1 1,830,000
15 "Barbie Girl" Aqua Universal October 1997 1 1,830,000[5]
16 "Believe" Cher WEA October 1998 1 1,800,000[5]
17 "Last Christmas" / "Everything She Wants" Wham! Epic December 1984 2 1,800,000[12]
18 "Anything Is Possible" / "Evergreen" Young, WillWill Young S February 2002 1 1,790,000[12]
19 "I Want to Hold Your Hand" Beatles, TheThe Beatles Parlophone November 1963 1 1,780,000[15]
20 "Imagine" Lennon, JohnJohn Lennon Apple October 1975 1 1,640,000
21 "Blurred Lines" Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams Interscope May 2013 1 1,630,000[7]
22 "I Will Always Love You" Houston, WhitneyWhitney Houston Arista October 1992 1 1,620,000[16]
23 "Summer Nights" Travolta, JohnJohn Travolta and Olivia Newton-John RSO September 1978 1 1,600,000
24 "Uptown Funk" Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars RCA December 2014 1 1,600,000[17]
25 "I'll Be Missing You" Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans Bad Boy June 1997 1 1,590,000
26 "Two Tribes" Frankie Goes to Hollywood ZTT May 1984 1 1,590,000
27 "Someone like You" Adele XL January 2011 1 1,584,000[18]
28 "Don't You Want Me" Human League, TheThe Human League Virgin November 1981 1 1,580,000
29 "Perfect Day" Various Artists Chrysalis November 1997 1 1,550,000
30 "My Heart Will Go On" Dion, CelineCeline Dion Epic February 1998 1 1,560,000[5]
31 "Three Lions"
"3 Lions '98"
Baddiel & Skinner & The Lightning Seeds Epic June 1996 1 1,540,000
32 "Can't Buy Me Love" Beatles, TheThe Beatles Parlophone March 1964 1 1,540,000[15]
33 "...Baby One More Time" Spears, BritneyBritney Spears Jive February 1999 1 1,540,000[5]
34 "Gangsta's Paradise" Coolio featuring L.V. Tommy Boy October 1995 1 1,540,000[5]
35 "Eye of the Tiger" Survivor Scotti Brothers July 1982 1 1,530,000
36 "Tears" Dodd, KenKen Dodd Columbia August 1965 1 1,520,000
37 "Moves Like Jagger" Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera A&M/Octone August 2011 2 1,503,000[7]
38 "Karma Chameleon" Culture Club Virgin September 1983 1 1,490,000
39 "Somebody That I Used to Know" Gotye featuring Kimbra Island January 2012 1 1,480,000[7]
40 "Y.M.C.A." Village People Mercury November 1978 1 1,500,000[12]

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 up to the end of 2016. Based on this, the songs with over 2 million combined sales are as follows:

No. Single Artist Released[a] Combined sales
(millions)
1 "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" John, EltonElton John September 1997 4,930,000dagger
2 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid November 1984 3,780,000dagger
3 "Uptown Funk" Ronson, MarkMark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars December 2014 2,509,000[19]
4 "Happy" Pharrell Williams November 2013 2,489,400[19]
5 "Bohemian Rhapsody"
"Bohemian Rhapsody" / "These Are the Days of Our Lives"
Queen October 1975
November 1991
2,440,000dagger
6 "Thinking Out Loud" Sheeran, EdEd Sheeran June 2014 2,191,400[20]
7 "One Dance" Drake featuring Wizkid and Kyla April 2016 2,100,000[21]
8 "Mull of Kintyre" / "Girls' School" Wings November 1977 2,080,000dagger
9 "Rather Be" Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne June 2014 2,074,700[20]
10 "You're the One That I Want" Travolta, JohnJohn Travolta and Olivia Newton-John May 1978 2,050,000dagger

dagger Assumes minimal streaming since 2014.
* Although streaming was added to the singles chart in June 2014, total combined sales were backdated to the start of the year.

Four other songs (not featured in the main list) have been certified 3× Platinum, meaning that they have combined sales of over 1.8 million: "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams, "All of Me" by John Legend, "Sorry" by Justin Bieber", "Wake Me Up" by Avicii and "Love Yourself" by Justin Bieber.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d The record labels, dates and chart peaks are those given by the OCC.[9]
  2. ^ The sales are those given by the OCC as of 27 June 2013,[10] except where a more recent OCC figure is available.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rules for Chart Eligibility: Singles" (PDF). London: Official Charts Company. April 2013. p. 4. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b 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. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Copsey, Rob (24 October 2015). "Quiz: Who sold more?". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Myers, Justin (17 October 2015). "Ask Official Charts: Your questions on Demi, Selena, Britney and more answered". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d Moss, Liv (19 June 2015). "Official Biggest Selling Singles of the decade so far revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Lane, Dan (27 June 2013). "Daft Punk's Get Lucky becomes one of the UK's biggest selling singles of all-time!". Official Charts Company. 
  11. ^ a b c Myers, Justin (29 November 2015). "Official Top 20 biggest selling Christmas songs revealed". Official Charts Company. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Myers, Justin (25 June 2016). "Pride special: Celebrating the biggest selling singles by LGBT artists". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 June 2016. 
  13. ^ Lane, Dan (10 June 2014). "Naughty Boy and Sam Smith smash 1 million UK sales with La La La". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Lane, Daniel (27 June 2013). "Daft Punk's Get Lucky becomes one of the UK's biggest selling singles of all-time!". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c Copsey, Rob (27 August 2015). "The Official Top 50 biggest selling Beatles singles revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  16. ^ a b c Myers, Justin (10 February 2016). "These are the UK's 20 biggest selling love ballads of all time". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  17. ^ Myers, Justin (12 October 2016). "Bruno Mars' Official Top 10 biggest songs revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  18. ^ Official Charts Company (21 November 2015). "Adele's 25 album records one of the biggest first day UK sales total ever". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 November 2015. 
  19. ^ a b Jones, Alan (11 November 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: Clean Bandit end Little Mix's reign on top of the singles chart". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 12 November 2016. (subscription required (help)). 
  20. ^ a b Jones, Alan (23 December 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: Ball and Boe clinch Christmas No.1". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 24 December 2016. (subscription required (help)). 
  21. ^ "The Official Top 100 biggest Hip-Hop Songs of all time". Retrieved 2017-04-21. 

External links[edit]