Top 10 Most Popular Songs of All Time

Songs are the ultimate product of making music. They are a product of art, but at the end of the day also big business. The most famous songs are known all over the world. Not only are they constantly played on the radio, hummed under the shower, or sung in karaoke bars, but they are or were also being bought millions upon millions of times.

The following list ranks the Top Ten of the best-selling and most popular songs of all time by the number of records sold worldwide. The ranking of the Top Ten songs includes both physical as well as digital record sales, where one physical copy sold equals two digital downloads.

The Top 10 Most Popular Songs of All Time

1. “White Christmas”

white christmas - no. 1 best-selling song of all time - ranking of the top 10 most popular songs of all time

White Christmas

~ 52 million copies sold

Released in: 1942
Written by: Irving Berlin
Main genre:
Christmas Song

Most popular version sung by:
Harry Crosby (a.k.a. Bing Crosby)

“White Christmas”, sung by American singer Bing Crosby (real name Harry Crosby), is the best-selling song in history. Crosby, who died in 1977, has sold around 52 million copies of the song to date. The song was written by Russian-born American composer Irving Berlin (real name Israel Beilin). Even though Berlin was Jewish, he wrote the song in 1940 as a homage to the snowy Christmases he knew while growing up in New York City. Berlin at the time spent Christmas in warm California, reminiscing about the white Christmases he was used to in New York.

The song was subsequently used by Bing Crosby for his NBC radio show’s Christmas Day special in the following year. Crosby performed the song in front of a live audience and received much praise for it. Some months later he, therefore, decided to turn the song into a single and the rest is history.

Not only is White Christmas now still the best-selling song of all time, but it also started the highly successful genre of American Christmas pop songs, that are now popular all over the world during Christmas time each year.

2. “Candle In The Wind”

most popular songs of all time - second best-selling song of all time- most popular pop song of all time

Candle In The Wind

~ 33 million copies sold

Released in: 1973
Written by: Elton John & Bernie Taupin
Main genre:

Most popular version sung by:
Elton John

“Candle in the Wind” is the second most popular song of all time. The song was originally written and released in 1973 by the British singer-songwriter Elton John himself alongside his fellow British songwriter Bernie Taupin. It was originally meant as a homage to American actress and singer Marlyn Monroe. The original song was already popular back then.

However, in 1997 John and Taupin rewrote and re-recorded the song and Elton John used the new version of the song at the funeral of Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales. This new homage to the beloved princess became a global phenomenon and sold around 33 million copies worldwide. In some countries, this single release also included the song “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” as a double A-side.

For Elton John, who is also the fourth best-selling solo music artist in history, “Candle in the Wind” still is the most successful single in his illustrious half-century-long career.

3. “In The Summertime”

In The Summertime

~ 32 million copies sold

Released in: 1970
Written by: Raymond Dorset
Main genre:

Most popular version sung by:
Mungo Jerry (band)

“In The Summertime” is the third most popular song in music history. The song was released by British rock band Mungo Jerry in 1970 and written by the band’s frontman Raymond Dorset. The Skiffle song was sold around 32 million times around the world, making it the all-time best-selling song released by a band. The song was later included in the band’s second album “Electronically Tested”, released in 1971.

The song’s tremendous success is often attributed to its upbeat rhythm and joyful lyrics, which perfectly capture the essence of summertime. According to Dorset, it took him only around ten minutes to write the entire song. Not a bad time for an all-time Top Three song.

4. “Silent Night”

Silent Night

~ 31 million copies sold

Released in: 1818
Written by: Joseph Mohr
Main genre:
Christmas Song

Most popular version sung by:
Harry Crosby (a.k.a. Bing Crosby)

“Silent Night” comes in fourth place among the most popular songs of all time. The song was originally written in German in 1818 by Austrian Catholic priest Joseph Mohr. The song quickly spread in German-speaking parts of the world, becoming a highly popular Christmas carol. In 1859, Reverend John Freeman-Young of the Episcopal Trinity Church in New York City translated the song into English, which made the song popular in the United States. The song was subsequently sung by hundreds of music artists over the years.

The song’s most successful and by far best-selling version was released by American singer Bing Crosby (real name Harry Crosby) in 1935, having sold around 31 million times to date. For Crosby, the release of his version of Silent Night also marked the beginning of his legendary status as the world’s most successful Christmas song performer.

In total, Silent Night was translated into around 300 languages around the world, more than any other song in history, generating over 137,000 known recordings. The song is therefore also officially recognized as an “intangible cultural heritage” of humanity by UNESCO.

5. “Petit Papa Noel”

Petit Papa Noel

~ 30 million copies sold

Released in: 1946
Written by: Raymond Vincy & Henri Martinet
Main genre:
Christmas Song

Most popular version sung by:
Constantin Rossi (a.k.a. Tino Rossi)

“Petit Papa Noel”, which translates to “Little Father Christmas”, completes the Top Five of the most popular songs of all time. The song was written in 1946 by French songwriters Raymond Vincy and Henri Martinet, who wanted to compose a modern Christmas song in French, inspired by the success of Bing Crosby’s Christmas song renditions. The song was given to French actor and singer Tino Rossi (real name Constantin Rossi), one of the biggest stars during WW II-era France.

Rossi turned the song into a huge success. It sold around 30 million times and remains the most popular and best-selling French song in history, still climbing the charts during Christmas time each year in France and other French-speaking countries and regions across the world.

6. “Spotlight”

Spotlight (光点)

~ 27 million copies sold

Released in: 2020
Written by: Rik Annema, Leroy Sanchez & Wynne Bennett
Main genre:

Most popular version sung by:
Xiao Zhan

“Spotlight”, or 光点, comes sixth among the most popular songs of all time. The song was written by an international team of songwriters, including Dutch songwriter Rik Annema, Spanish singer-songwriter Leroy Sanchez, and American songwriter Wynne Bennett. The song was then partly translated into Chinese and given to Chinese actor and singer Xiao Zhan, who sang the song partly in Chinese and partly in English. The song, released in 2020, immediately became a huge success. It is, in fact, the most downloaded song on Chinese digital music platforms and the best-selling song overall by digital copies sold/downloaded.

Part of the reason for the song’s tremendous success was the collective effort by Zhan’s huge fanbase in China, who downloaded the song to express their support for him amidst an ongoing scandal that was surrounding him and his fans at the time.

7. “I Will Always Love You”

I Will Always Love You

~ 26 million copies sold

Released in: 1973
Written by: Dolly Parton
Main genre:
Country Pop (original) / Soul Ballad

Most popular version sung by:
Whitney Houston

“I Will Always Love You” is the seventh most popular song of all time. The song was originally written by American Country singer and songwriter Dolly Parton and released in 1973. It was meant as a farewell song to Parton’s mentor and longtime singing partner Porter Wagoner, after Parton decided to pursue a solo career. The song became an instant success. In 1982, Dolly Parton then released another version of the song for the movie “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, in which she starred alongside actor Burt Reynolds.

A decade later, the song was then used by fellow American singer Whitney Houston, as part of the soundtrack for the film “The Bodyguard”, in which Houston starred alongside actor Kevin Costner. Whitney Houston’s Soul rendition of the song proved to become the most successful and best-selling version.

8. “Rock Around the Clock”

Rock Around the Clock

~ 25 million copies sold

Released in: 1954
Written by: Maxamus Freedman & James Myers
Main genre:
Rock ‘n Roll

Most successful version sung by:
Bill Haley & His Comets (band)

“Rock Around the Clock” places eighth in the top ten of the most popular songs of all time. The song was written by American songwriters Maxamus Freedman and James Myers in 1952. The song was then offered to ‘Bill Haley & His Comets’, an up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band back then. Bill Haley & His Comets released the song in 1954 and, with some delay, it became a huge global success and the best-selling rock ‘n’ roll song to date.

Today, the song is considered an absolute rock ‘n’ roll classic and is credited for having revolutionized the music scene in the 1950s and elevating rock ‘n’ roll music into the mainstream. Numerous singers have created their versions and tributes to the song over the years, though none are as successful as the original version by Bill Haley & His Comets.

9. “Shape of You”

~ 21 million copies sold

Released in: 2017
Written by: Ed Sheeran, Steve Mac & Johnny McDaid
Main genre:

Most successful version sung by:
Ed Sheeran

“Shape of You” by British singer Ed Sheeran is the ninth most popular song of all time. It was released as a single from Sheeran’s third album “÷”. Sheeran wrote the song alongside his fellow British songwriters Steve Mac and Johnny McDaid. The song was released in January 2017 and immediately became a hit. The song sold around 21 million times by the metric used in this ranking.

At the same time, the song also still holds the record for most digital copies downloaded outside of China, having been downloaded around 42 million times.

10. “Despacito”

~ 18 million copies sold

Released in: 2017
Written by: Luis Rodriguez, Ramon Ayala & Erika Ender
Main genre:
Latin Pop

Most popular
version sung by: Luis Rodriguez (a.k.a. Luis Fonsi) & Ramon Ayala (a.k.a. Daddy Yankee)

“Despacito” concludes the Top Ten of the most popular songs in history. Despacito (Spanish for “Slowly” or “Softly”) was also released in 2017 and first became popular in Latin America, before subsequently taking over the world in the summer of 2017. The song sold over 30 million digital copies on streaming services, which translates to around 18 million copies sold worldwide. The song was written by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi (real name Luis Rodriguez), Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee (real name Ramon Ayala), and Panamanian singer Erika Ender.

Recorded and released by the first two, the song quickly became the most popular, most successful, and indeed best-selling Latin Pop song in history.

The Top 10 Most Popular Songs of All Time:

Song Name:Original Year Released:Written By:Genre:Most popular version sung by:Copies sold:
1. “WHITE CHRISTMAS”1942Irving BerlinChristmas SongBing Crosby, 1942~ 52 million
2. “CANDLE IN THE WIND”1973Elton John & Bernie TaupinPop BalladElton John, 1997~ 33 million
3. “IN THE SUMMERTIME”1970Raymond DorsetSkiffleMungo Jerry (band), 1970~ 32 million
4. “SILENT NIGHT”1818Joseph MohrChristmas SongBing Crosby, 1935~ 31 million
5. “PETIT PAPA NOEL”1946Raymond Vincy & Henri MartinetChristmas SongTino Rossi, 1946~ 30 million
6. “SPOTLIGHT”2020Rik Annema, Leroy Sanchez & Wynne BennettR&BXiao Zhan, 2020~ 27 million
7. “I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU”1974Dolly PartonCountry Pop (original) / Soul BalladWhitney Houston, 1992~ 26 million
8. “ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK”1954Maxamus Freedman & James MyersRock ‘n’ RollBill Haley & His Comets (band)~ 25 million
9. “SHAPE OF YOU2017Ed Sheeran, Steve Mac & Johnny McDaidPopEd Sheeran, 2017~ 21 million
10. “DESPACITO2017Luis Rodriguez, Ramon Ayala & Erika EnderLatin PopLuis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, 2017~ 18 million
Updated as of January 2024.

The 10 most popular songs of all time based on copies sold worldwide. One physical copy sold equals two digital copies sold/downloaded. Album sales are not included in the ranking.

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