Numerous hits have made it onto the Billboard charts over the years but which are the best-performing songs of all time? Which artists have snagged the top ten spots? Spoiler alert—it isn’t The Beatles, Madonna, Michael Jackson, or Whitney Houston.
Who is it then, you ask? You’ll have to keep reading to find out!
Table of Contents
Top 10 Most Popular Hits of All Time In 2023
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the songs.
10. “Perfect” By Ed Sheeran
“Perfect” is one of the singles from his third album, ÷ (Divide). Released on September 27, 2017, the song charted at number four in the UK and eventually reached number one by the end of the year. Not only that but it also peaked at number one in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, and several other countries.
Four months afterward, a second version titled “Perfect Duet” was released. A collaboration with Beyonce, the song proved to be a huge hit and reached number one in the United States, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and Sweden. For the next week, the duet version accounted for nearly 20 percent of the song’s sales. It also reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Sheeran’s song number-one hit in the U.S. Not only did Beyonce perform the song during her On the Run II Tour, but the pair also performed “Perfect Duet” live at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in South Africa.
Fast forward to 2023, and the song has received Diamond certification in the U.S. and 7x Platinum certification in the UK.
The accompanying music video, which was posted to Sheeran’s official YouTube channel, also received numerous accolades including three MTV Video Music Award nominations.
9. “Something Just Like This” By The Chainsmokers and Coldplay
“Something Just Like This” is a collaboration between the electronic music duo The Chainsmokers and the rock band Coldplay. Released on February 22, 2017, the song was the lead single from Coldplay’s Kaleidoscope EP and the second single from The Chainsmokers’ debut album, Memories…Do Not Open.
Upon its release, the single charted at number two on the UK Singles Chart. In the United States, it entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 56. By the second week, however, it had soared to number five, making it one of the best-selling tracks of the year in the U.S. Aside from that, it also reached the top ten in several other countries including Ireland, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, and Australia.
The following year, it received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Not only that but Uproxx also named it one of the best hits of the year.
The same day the single was released, a lyric video was also posted to the Chainsmoker’s official YouTube channel. Since then, it has been viewed more than two billion times. That’s not all, the single has also received Diamond certification in the United States and 4x Platinum certification in the UK, with more than 12 million sales combined.
8. “I Will Always Love You” By Whitney Houston
“I Will Always Love You” is a single from Dolly Parton’s 1974 album Jolene. Recorded in Nashville, it served as a farewell to her mentor and business partner Porter Wagoner, whom she had worked with for seven years. A commercial success, it reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Parton later re-recorded the song for the 1982 musical film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (it was later included in the soundtrack album). The single eventually reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart again, making Parton one of only a few artists to have reached number one with the same song twice.
In 1992, Whitney Houston also recorded a soul-ballad version of “I Will Always Love You”, which was used in the film The Bodyguard. Not only did it reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but it stayed there for a record-breaking 14 weeks. The single was also a worldwide hit, topping the charts in numerous countries including the UK, New Zealand, Norway, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Canada, Belgium, and Austria, among others. In 1994, it also earned Houston a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Record of the Year.
Since then, the song has been covered by several other artists including Amber Riley, Linda Ronstadt, Sarah Washington, and LeAnn Rimes.
7. “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets
“Rock Around the Clock” is a rock and roll song that was originally written by James E. Myers and Max C. Freedman in 1952. In 1954, the American band Bill Haley & His Comets recorded a rendition of the song, which quickly reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100. Not only that but it also did well in the UK and Australia. In fact, it was the first rock and roll song to top the music charts in the UK and the US. Interestingly enough, it later became the unofficial anthem for rebellious youth during the 1950s.
The band’s rendition of the song has since been credited for having brought the genre into mainstream culture worldwide. It has also been included on the Rolling Magazine’s list of Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2018, the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress also selected the single for preservation for being “historically, culturally, or artistically significant.”
While the band doesn’t have an official YouTube channel, a re-upload of their performance has since been viewed more than 31 million times on the site.
6. “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas
“I Gotta Feeling” is the second single from the Black Eyed Peas’ 2009 album, The E.N.D. Released on May 21, 2009, it debuted at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for two weeks, before rising to the top. By then, it had also reached number one in several other countries including Canada, Belgium, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, and the UK.
The song also ended up spending 14 consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the longest-running number-one hit song of the year. Met with critical acclaim, the song later won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Group or Duo with Vocals. Not only that but it also received a nomination for Record of the Year.
By 2011, it had become the first single in history to sell more than 7 million digital copies in the U.S.
Fast forward to 2023 and the song has received diamond certification in the U.S. with more than 10,000,000 sales. A video of the song, which is posted to the group’s official YouTube channel, has also been viewed over 18 million times.
5. “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry
“In the Summertime” is British rock band Mungo Jerry’s debut single. Released in 1970, the song debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart, where it spent seven weeks. Not only that but it also topped the Canadian music chart and reached number three on the US Billboard Hot 100.
The song was eventually included in the band’s second album, Electronically Tested, which was released a year later.
Around the same time, the Australian rock band The Mixtures recorded a rendition of the song, which became the best-selling single in Australia. Then in 1995, Jamaican-American artist Shaggy covered the song and released it as a single from his album, Boombastic. While it wasn’t as successful as the original, it did peak at the top of the Billboard Hot R&B and Rap Singles charts.
As of 2023, more than 30 million copies have been sold worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time. Part of the song’s lyrics have also been used for the UK’s Drinking and Driving Wrecks Live campaign.
4.“Candle in the Wind” by Elton John
“Candle in the Wind” was originally written by Elton John in 1973 as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, who had died in 1962. He later performed a re-written version as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, following her death in 1997. It ended up peaking at number one in the UK, making it his fourth number-one single. Not only that but it’s also the second-best-selling single in the world with more than 33 million units sold, according to Guinness World Records.
In 1986, he also recorded a live version of the song, which featured the piano and bass pedals. It was later released as a single and included in the 1987 album Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. During that period, John also had a tendency of performing the song solo at the encore of his concerts.
By 1988, the live version of the song had reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and number five in the UK. It also earned him a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
To this day, “Candle in the Wind” is still the most successful single of his career.
3. “Smooth” by Santana (ft. Rob Thomas)
“Smooth” is a single by the American rock band Santana and features vocals by Rob Thomas. Released on June 15, 1999, the song quickly proved to be a worldwide success. Not only did it reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for 12 consecutive weeks, but it also peaked at number one in Canada and charted within the top 10 in the UK, Ireland, Austria, and Australia. In fact, it was also the final number-one hit of the 90s and the first of the new millennium.
Met with critical acclaim, the single went on to win three Grammy Awards: one for Song of the Year, Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, and Record of the Year and has since received platinum certification from the RIAA.
Since then, the song has been covered by several artists including the group Escape the Fate and the Brazilian pop duo Sandy & Junior, the latter of whom included the recording in their live album. Indie-folk artist Kimberly June also recorded an acoustic rendition of the song, which was included in her 2021 album Covers from Another.
2. “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
“Shape of You” is one of the lead singles from Ed Sheeran’s third studio album ÷ (Divide). Met with widespread acclaim, the R&B and dancehall-infused song peaked at number one in over 30 different countries including the United States, UK, Canada, and Australia. In the end, it stayed on the US Billboard Hot 100 for 12 non-consecutive weeks and on the Canadian music chart for a record-tying 16 consecutive weeks.
In December 2018, it also became the first song to reach two billion streams on Spotify. That same year, it received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance as well as two Brit Award nominations—one for Video of the Year and one for Single of the Year.
The song’s official music video starring US model and dancer Jennie Pegouskie and former sumo wrestler Yamamotoyama Ryuuta, was also uploaded to Sheeran’s YouTube channel the same day the single was released. Since then, it has been viewed more than 5.8 billion times.
As of 2023, the single has sold more than 43 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles in history.
1. “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd
“Blinding Lights” is the second single from the Weeknd’s fourth album After Hours. Met with universal acclaim, the song debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for four weeks. While its position eventually dropped, it remained within the top 10 for a whole year. To this day, it’s the longest-charting song by a solo artist, having spent 90 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Weeknd’s most successful song, it has since been streamed more than 1.6 million times on Spotify, making it one of the most-listened-to songs on the platform. While the single wasn’t nominated for any Grammys, a decision that shocked many including the artist himself, it did win other accolades including two MTV Video Music Awards, three Billboard Music Awards, as well as a Juno Award.
Since the song was originally released in 2019, three official remixes have been released: one by Major Lazer, one by electronic band Chromatics, and one by Rosalia. In 2020, Leo Moracchioli, a popular metal cover artist on Youtube, also performed a rendition of the song where he performed the vocals and played the instruments himself.