Chart Watch Extra: Top Songs At Half-Time
The biggest hits got significantly bigger in the first half of 2012, but there were slightly fewer medium-sized hits than in the same period last year. Two songs each sold more than 5 million copies in the first half of 2012. "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra sold 5,501,000 copies in the first half. "We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monae sold 5,087,000. Never before in the digital era has one song, much less two, sold 5 million copies in any six month period. You have to go back to the pre-digital era to find the last song that sold 5 million or more copies in a six-month period. Elton John's "Candle In The Wind 1997" sold 8,111,000 copies in the last 14 weeks of 1997.
Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" is in third place for the first half, with sales of 4,064,000. That's three songs above 4 million, which is also a record. There were two 4-million-sellers in the first half of 2011. These were the first chart hits for all five of these artists.
Three other songs topped the 3 million mark during the first half: Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" (3,324,000), Nicki Minaj's "Starships" (3,158,000) and "Payphone" by Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa (3,075,000). That's six songs above 3 million, also a record. There were four in the first half of 2011.
But once you get past the giant hits, the numbers reverse (not dramatically, but just enough to be puzzling). Fifteen songs topped 2 million in the first half, down from 17 in the first half of 2011. Forty-seven songs topped 1 million in the first half, down from 52 in the first half of 2011. A total of 107 songs sold 500K or more copies in the first half, down from 109 in the first half of 2011.
Fans have always responded to the hits, and nowadays a few massive hits are really dominating the pop landscape.
The hefty tally for "Somebody That I Used To Know" is way ahead of the tally for the biggest hit of the first six months of 2011. "E.T." by Katy Perry featuring Kanye West sold 4,120,000 in that period. Here's more proof of digital's dramatic growth: "Somebody…" sold more than twice as many copies as did the best-selling song for the first half of 2008. Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" sold 2,667,000 copies in the first six months of that year.
Two other versions of "Somebody…" also rank among the top 200 songs of the first half. A version by Walk Off The Earth sold 309K copies. Glee Cast's version sold 292K. Add the three versions together and the song is well over 6 million.