The Most Popular Songs Ever Played On The Radio

It never seems to come up in a pub quiz, but it always seems like something we should already know the answer to. What were the most popular songs played on the radio – of all time?

Broadcast Music Inc seems to be the only source keeping vague track of this, although no-one actually seems to be bothering to measure this anymore. In as much as the honourary title should veritably belong to Kanye, Adele, Katy Perry, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Bruno Mars and U2 within the last 10 years or so, video has indeed killed off their potential radio-based Guinness World Records. Instead, these domestic broadcasts are transferred from pure listens and into billions of collective views on YouTube. (Although there are unverified and heinous claims that the logic of BBC Radio 2 is similar to that of the bus from Speed: it will explode if Coldplay isn’t played once per hour).

So without further ado, here is the most popular song to ever be played on radio:

Lost That Loving Feeling – Righteous Brothers

It’s that song you never remember that you remember until someone across the karaoke bar from your crew takes to the mic with slightly teary, 4am pride. But according the BMI, this song really has been played 8 million times on radio across the world on radio. Back-to-back, this is the equivalent of listening to the Righteous Brothers for just over 45 years.

Let that sink in. But…not for 45 years. The second most popular song to be played on the old transistor is…

Never My Love – Addrisi Brothers

So many hit songs are covers, including this one, a creepy, easy-listening disco reboot from the late 70s. Unforgivably missed from any Tarantino murder scene ever, it has instead proven longevity via the airwaves: a lengthy 7 million plays, or just less than 45 more years of your life spent missing out on how ace any of the Bee Gees songs were in comparison.

Yesterday – The Beatles

Just say yes to Yesterday as your favourite Beatles song. This masterpiece of unalloyed melancholy was apparently broadcast for the equivalent of 40 years until everyone stopped measuring these statistics publicly. Remarkable really, as this song explains the exact same feeling of its preceding record-breakers so much better and in less than 3 minutes. Ah yes, efficient radio emoting; that’s the 21st century way. Way ahead of their time.

Ask your mates if they could guess these top three – unscientific research suggests they definitely wouldn’t. A straw poll in a local establishment saw 100% of all people expecting the equally retro Van Morrison to appear in list. Strangely enough, Van always had a tonne of questions about the nature of his reality including one about a transistor radio in his hit single Brown Eyed Girl, but unfortunately this old-school banger was only number 57 in the list.

Here at Zavvi, radio is very much alive. Check out the latest radio’s from our GPO range. Long live the wireless..

Jane McConnell

Jane McConnell

Writer and expert

Busy obsessing over screenwriting and movie scripts. Otherwise I'm happiest doing any or all of the following: hunting down vinyl, being with cats, eating French cheese, getting lost in a game, riding a bike.