According to Guinness World Records, the holiday perennial "White Christmas" (1942) by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single worldwide, with estimated sales of over 50 million copies. The song recognized as "the best-selling single of all time" was released before the pop/rock singles-chart era and "was listed as the world's best-selling single in the first-ever Guinness Book of Records (published in 1955) and— remarkably — still retains the title more than 50 years later." Guinness World Records states that double A-side charity single "Candle in the Wind 1997"/"Something About the Way You Look Tonight" (1997) by Elton John, a tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is "the biggest-selling single since UK and US singles charts began in the 1950s, having accumulated worldwide sales of 33 million copies," making it the second best-selling single of all time.
The artists who have released the most singles that appear on this list are Elvis Presley and Katy Perry with six entries each, and Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Britney Spears, with five each. The cumulative sales for each are 52 million, ~40 million, ~47 million, ~35 million and 33 million, respectively.
Given the recent trend that commercial music download sites reportedly sell mostly single tracks rather than whole albums, an increase in popularity that seems to have rubbed off on physical formats, the list is split between digital singles and physical (CD and vinyl) singles. Portable audio players, which make it extremely easy to load and play songs from many different artists, are claimed to be a major factor behind this trend.
- This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries.
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