Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" rolled to a record this year. The song sold more copies than any other song has sold in a calendar year in digital history. To find the last song that has sold as many copies in a calendar year you have to go back to the pre-digital era for Elton John's "Candle In The Wind 1997," his tribute to the late Princess Diana.
Here are the stats: "Rolling In The Deep" sold 5,813,000 copies in 2011. The previous calendar-year sales record in the digital era was set two years ago when the Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" sold 4,762,000 copies. "Candle In The Wind 1997" sold 8,011,000 physical copies in 1997, though the rush of emotion connected to Diana's death, and the charity aspect of the single (proceeds went to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund), make it an extraordinary case.
Adele has a second song in the year's top 10. "Someone Like You" is #7. Adele is the only artist with two songs in this year's top 10. She's the first female artist to put two songs in the year-end top 10 since Lady Gaga scored two years ago with "Poker Face" and "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis).
The year's #2 hit is "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock. It sold 5,468,000 copies (which also breaks the Peas' calendar-year digital sales record). LMFAO consists of Stefan "Redfoo" Gordy, 36, and Skyler "Sky Blu" Gordy, 25, the son and grandson, respectively, of Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr.
is the only artist with three songs in the year's top 30. "E.T.," her collabo with Kanye West, is #3. "Firework" is #17. "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" is #21. This marks the third time in the past four years that Perry has had a song in the year-end top five. "I Kissed A Girl" was the fourth best-seller of 2008. "California Gurls (featuring Snoop Dogg) was #1 for 2010.
Four of the year's top five hits were collaborations, a new record. Collabos accounted for three of the top five hits of 2010.
Two of the year's top 15 hits are by judges on TV talent competitions. "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera is #4. "On The Floor" by Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull is #12. Adam Levine and Aguilera are among the quartet of judges on The Voice. J.Lo is the sole female judge on American Idol. (It's worth noting that the judges fared much better than the contestants on these shows. Idol winner Scotty McCreery's "I Love You This Big" is #149 for the year, with sales of 744K.)
The music industry should be pleased with these numbers. Fourteen songs sold 3 million copies during 2011, 38 songs sold 2 million and 112 songs sold 1 million. All constitute new digital-era records. (The number of 4-million-sellers dipped from five to four.)
This was also the year the "F word" gained new acceptability. See #8 and #27.
Without further ado, here's the low-down on the 30 best-selling songs of 2011. (Or, in the inimitable words of Pitbull, "Say no more, get on the floor.")
1. Adele, "Rolling In The Deep," 5,813,000. This song topped the Hot 100 for seven weeks, beginning in May. It was Adele's first top 10 hit. It's the best-selling song by a British artist in digital history, surpassing Taio Cruz's "Dynamite." It's also the front-runner to win Grammys for Record and Song of the Year. "Rolling In The Deep" sold an additional 108K copies in 2010.
2. LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock, "Party Rock Anthem," 5,468,000. This is the year's best-selling collabo. The song topped the Hot 100 for six weeks, starting in July. It was LMFAO's first top 10 hit. It also topped the U.K. chart for four weeks.
3. Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, "E.T.," 4,829,000. This song topped the Hot 100 for five weeks in April and May. It was Perry's fifth #1; West's fourth. The song sold an additional 131K copies in 2010.
4. Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera, "Moves Like Jagger," 4,111,000. This collabo logged four weeks at #1, starting in September. It was Maroon 5's second #1; the fifth for Aguilera.
5. Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer, "Give Me Everything," 3,875,000. This vibrant blend of pop and hip-hop reached #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K. It was Pitbull's first #1 in the U.S.; Ne-Yo's second.
6. Foster the People, "Pumped Up Kicks," 3,843,000. This earworm is the year's best-selling song that failed to reach #1. It spent eight straight weeks at #3, starting in September. That was the longest run at #3 for a song that peaked in that spot since LL Cool J's "Hey Lover" in 1995-1996. It was the group's first top 10 hit.
7. Adele, "Someone Like You," 3,750,000. In September, this tearjerker became the first recording that consists of just piano and vocal to reach #1 in the 53-year history of the Hot 100. The song spent five weeks at #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K.
8. Cee Lo Green, "F**k You (Forget You)," 3,724,000. This good-natured kiss-off to a former lover is the polar opposite of the oh-so-sensitive "Someone Like You." Green's smash is the year's best-selling song by a male solo artist. It logged four weeks at #2 in March. "F**k You" won a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance and was a finalist for Record and Song of the Year. It sold an additional 1,688,000 copies in 2010. It was that year's #46 song.
9. Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass," 3,608,000. This hip-hop smash peaked at #3 for two weeks in August. It was Minaj's second top 10 hit, following Trey Songz' "Bottoms Up," on which she was featured.
10. Lady Gaga, "Born This Way," 3,476,000. This gay-friendly anthem topped the Hot 100 for six weeks, starting in February. It was Gaga's third (and longest-running) #1 hit.
11. LMFAO, "Sexy And I Know It," 3,363,000. LMFAO proved they were more than one-hit wonders when this novelty song reached #1 last week. It marked the first time that a duo has had back-to-back #1 hits since OutKast scored in 2003-2004.
12. Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull, "On The Floor," 3,308,000. J.Lo's comeback smash reached #3 in May. It was her 10th top 10 hit; her highest-charting hit since "All I Have" (featuring LL Cool J) reached #1 in 2003.
13. Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes, "Look At Me Now," 3,178,000. This collabo reached #6 in April. It was Brown's 10th top 10 hit; his highest-charting hit since "Forever" three years ago. It topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for eight weeks.
14. Rihanna, "S&M," 3,040,000. This frisky song hit #1 in April, thanks to an assist from Britney Spears. It was Rihanna's 10th song to reach #1. Rihanna, who is just 23, is one of a select group of artists ever to amass 10 #1 hits at such a young age. (The others: Elvis Presley, two of the Beatles and all three Supremes.)
15. Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris, "We Found Love," 2,995,000. This song topped the Hot 100 for eight weeks in November and December. That was the longest run at #1 for any 2011 single. It also topped the U.K. chart for six weeks. It was the first song to spend six or more weeks at #1 in both countries since Rihanna's 2007 smash "Umbrella" (featuring Jay-Z).
16. The Black Eyed Peas, "Just Can't Get Enough," 2,950,000. This piece of catchy radio fodder reached #3 in April. It was the group's 10th top 10 hit.
17. Katy Perry, "Firework," 2,889,000. This firecracker of a hit topped the Hot 100 for four weeks in December and January. It was her fourth #1. It won a VMA Award as Video of the Year and is a Grammy finalist for Record of the Year. "Firework" sold an additional 2,332,000 copies in 2010. It was that year's #28 song.
18. Bruno Mars, "The Lazy Song," 2,849,000. This laid-back ditty reached #4 in June. It was Mars' fifth top five hit.
19. Bruno Mars, "Grenade," 2,775,000. This song topped the Hot 100 for four weeks in December and January. The song, darker in tone than Mars' previous hits, was his third #1. It also topped the U.K. chart for two weeks. It is nominated for Grammys for Record and Song of the Year. "Grenade" sold an additional 2,061,000 copies in 2010. It was that year's #36 song.
20. Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine, "Stereo Hearts," 2,760,000. This excellent record peaked at #4 in October. For 14 weeks that I bet he'll always remember fondly, Levine had two songs in the top 10.
21. Katy Perry, "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," 2,717,000. This song hit #1 in August, making Perry's Teenage Dream only second album in history (following Michael Jackson's Bad) to generate five #1 hits.
22. Ke$ha, "Blow," 2,694,000. This pop-dance smash reached #7 in March, becoming Ke$ha's seventh top 10 hit. It was her follow-up to the chart-topping "We R Who We R."
23. Lupe Fiasco, "The Show Goes On," 2,620,000. This zesty song reached #9 in May, becoming Lupe Fiasco's second top 10 hit and his highest-charting hit to date. The song sold an additional 189K copies in 2010.
24. Jason Aldean, "Dirt Road Anthem," 2,575,000. This is the year's best-selling country song. It's the only song by a male country solo artist to top the 2 million mark in digital history. It reached #7 in June, becoming Aldean's first top 10 hit.
25. Lil Wayne, "How To Love," 2,541,000. This heartfelt ballad proved that Lil Wayne is more than a rapper. It peaked at #5 in August. It was his 15th top 10 hit.
26. Hot Chelle Rae, "Tonight Tonight," 2,512,000. This energetic blend of power pop and bubblegum reached #7 in July. (I admit it: it's a personal guilty pleasure.) It was the group's first top 10 hit.
27. Pink, "F**kin' Perfect," 2,497,000. This was the year's second-biggest hit with the "F word" in its title. The song, Pink's follow-up to the chart-topping "Raise Your Glass," reached #2 in January. It was her 11th top 10 hit.
28. Britney Spears, "Till The World Ends," 2,492,000. This song, Spears' follow-up to the chart-topping "Hold It Against Me," reached #3 in May. It was her 10th top 10 hit.
29. Lady Gaga, "The Edge Of Glory," 2,325,000. This energetic track debuted and peaked at #3 in May. It was still in the top 10 on June 18, when Clarence Clemons, who played sax on the track, passed away.
30. OneRepublic, "Good Life," 2,324,000. Is this ballad pretty or generic? Or both? You decide. The loping, easy-tempo tune peaked at #8 in July, becoming the group's second top 10 hit.
As a bonus, here are three more songs that achieved distinctions of note.
94. Eminem, "Lose Yourself," 1,120,000. This 2002 smash is the oldest song among the 100 best-selling songs of 2012.This brings its sales to date to 4,353,000 copies, which is impressive because the song was already seven months old when the iTunes store opened in April 2003. The song logged 12 weeks at #1, beginning in November 2002. The motivational anthem is the "Theme From 'Rocky'" of the hip-hop era.
152. The Lonely Island featuring Akon, "I Just Had Sex," 739,000. This is the year's best-selling comedy song. (LMFAO's "Sexy And I Know It" isn't classified as comedy, though it's just about as funny). It reached #30 at the end of last year, surpassing "I'm On A Boat" (featuring T-Pain) as the troupe's highest-charting hit to date.
156. Justin Bieber, "Mistletoe," 722,000. This is the year's best-selling holiday song. It sold more copies in a calendar year than any previous holiday song in digital history. It debuted and peaked at #11 in October, becoming the highest-charting holiday song since New Kids on the Block's "This One's For The Children," which hit #7 in 1989.
To My Readers: I have also updated my post on the year's best-selling albums. If you missed it, here's a link.