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5 most commercially successful songs of the digital age


An artist must be hungry. A beautiful phrase that for some reason justifies the low assessment of the work of creative people. It’s one thing to feel like a genius, but at the same time forced to earn a living doing what you don’t like, and another thing is to receive money along with recognition, which is enough for a quiet life filled with creativity.

This is one of the reasons why, almost from the very beginning of the music industry, all artists have declared a tacit race for the number of sales, because they are the easiest way to measure their commercial success, although artists receive the main income from concerts. Previously, in this regard, everything was extremely simple – whose records sold out faster from the shelves of music stores, he was more successful. But these are the bygone days of physical media. And what is happening now? In fact, almost the same. With the slight exception that various streaming sites now play the role of stores. However, if everything is rather predictable with the era of physical media (there are many singles of the legendary The Beatles, Elton John and Michael Jackson at the top of the pyramid), then here is the digital era of a way to present many surprises.

Today in partnership with the service MTS Music we will tell you about the five most commercially successful contemporary songs.

Timur Vychuzhanin
Musical critic

Sales: 21.5 million digital copies

Both of these groups need no introduction. The Chainsmokers are a duo that did a lot in their time to make people listen to much more electronic music, and active dance rhythms a la Skrillex penetrated the world charts.

Сoldplay is a group that has at least a couple of absolute hits on almost every album, despite the fact that they have been actively recording and performing since the second half of the nineties. And it is all the more strange that their main hit in the end was not Paradise or Yellow, known to many, with the very clip where a young Chris Martin walks along the shore against the background of a gradually lit dawn, but a collaboration with electronics.


It’s also strange because Coldplay and The Chainsmokers exist in different musical worlds.

The former are known, first of all, thanks to soft, soothing pop-rock songs about love and the beauty of the world around them, while the latter create tear-off dance music, to which you want not to be quietly sad at the window with a cup of tea, but to put on sneakers and have fun. dance floor.

However, Something Just Like This is an example of the fact that nothing is impossible for truly good musicians. Here it is a metaverse that Marvel can only envy.

Sales: 32.5 million digital copies

The living legends of pop and rap music have joined forces to record what will, in the future, become their most successful single of their career. In any case, for now, because both musicians continue to write music and release hits, and therefore, perhaps, soon one of them will beat his own record.

Here it is surprising that, at first glance, both Rihanna and Drake have songs that are more heard in our latitudes. Take the same Diamonds or Umbrella, but the numbers don’t lie.


What made it possible for Work to become the most commercially successful song of Rihanna’s career? Perhaps the atmosphere of a wild party, which is maintained throughout the track, played a role. Maybe it’s the participation of an eminent colleague. Or maybe the real reasons are hidden from the eyes of the average listener behind layers of cunning schemes within the music industry itself. In any case, the fact remains that this track, with its sticky pop chorus and monotonous beat, is the most successful track in the career of both Rihanna and Drake.

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Sales: 36.1 million digital copies

Song-meme, song-virus – an international hit that finally convinced even the most ardent skeptics that not only music in English can conquer the world. In the year of its release, this track played almost every song on almost all mainstream radio stations, and therefore now almost any mention of Despacito causes a slight headache – Luis Fonsi managed to annoy everyone with his hit.


But what if we take aside the veil of the viral video and look at this composition as the most ordinary song? Then it immediately becomes clear why so many millions of people liked the Latin American hit. There is a very pleasant, but not straining dance rhythm, which is generally characteristic of Latin American music, a light melody with an acoustic guitar that makes the track more soulful, and the Spanish language creates a feeling of some kind of exotic. And, of course, the transition from a verse to a chorus with the very word that has been stuck in the head of everyone who even occasionally listens to pop music for a year or more.

Despite the aura of stickiness and fast food music surrounding this song, in reality this is a very well-made track, where love for one’s own culture merged with the desire to modernize it and bring it to the masses. Fortunately, there are quite a lot of people like Luis Fonsi in Latin America now, and therefore, perhaps, soon we will be able to hear another Descpacito.

Sales: 41.5 million digital copies

The success of Ed Sheeran is an extremely inspiring story in every sense. Firstly, a simple guy with the appearance of a typical “nerd” suddenly starts recording songs with a guitar, rapping and becomes incredibly famous. At the same time, he did not cheat on himself and did not sacrifice himself to the bloodthirsty show business. Judging by one of the interviews, Ed Sheeran, as he was a simple guy with a very naive sense of humor, remained the same.

Secondly, he proves by his example that a musician who is also a producer for many colleagues can successfully record his own albums without getting lost in a sea of ​​clones created by himself. Sheeran began with pleasant acoustic love songs, where sometimes he very skillfully alternated between recitative and singing. Now he is doing the same, but with better production, on a larger scale.


Shape Of You is one of those songs where Sheeran goes back to his “roots” to remind his loyal listeners that despite his fame, he’s still the guy with the guitar and the desire to write simple love songs. This track has everything that made Sheeran’s tracks popular: nice soft singing, which is sometimes broken by a great rhythmic rap with beautiful rhymes, elements of world music that add elegance to any pop track, and of course a simple, but such a recognizable melody that is easy to hum. A real master class on how to create pop hits that grab you from the first listen and never let go.

Sales: 54.1 million digital copies

Unexpected, right? So far, the most commercially successful single of the digital age is a song by Chinese actor and singer Xiao Zhan. Moreover, such a general success was a surprise for the artist himself, because initially he did not plan to release this song outside the Chinese market at all. But recently, the popularity of TV shows and films from the Middle Kingdom has been increasing all over the world, and therefore the penetration of music from there into the world charts was only a matter of time. And, as it turned out, this penetration was very successful, because Xiao Zhan was able to overtake not only all Western musicians, but also his Asian colleagues from Korea – BTS.


What caused such popularity? Let’s try to figure it out. At first it seems that this is the most common Asian-style pop track – a high pleasant voice, unobtrusive music, effects that create the feeling that not one person is singing, but a whole boy band. The only thing that clearly distinguishes this track from many similar Western ones is the combination of Chinese and English in the song, but this is also far from news, because PSY won the market with such a mix with his Gangnam Style.

But the more you listen to the nuances of the sound, the more you understand that this track, in terms of its harmonies, melody construction and other musical techniques, is similar to the songs of the conditional Backstreet Boys. Is it a coincidence? Perhaps, because in Asia now the heyday of boyish pop groups, while in the West this era is long gone. But the influence of such music in the work of the Chinese artist is obvious. It seems that nostalgia for such music played a big role in the success of the song. And just like that, Xiao Zhan, combining the charm of Asian TV shows and boy bands from the 00s and 90s, released the most commercially successful single of the digital age to date.

My profession is a journalist, but my hobby for 8 years has been studying Forex investing and trading. During this time, I managed to gain extensive experience in investing and trading cryptocurrencies and double my capital in the Forex market. To be the author of this magazine, the site owners invited me to participate in one of the 2020 trading webinars, and I will try to reveal the most relevant crypto market news for you.

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