Dave’s Music Database: Radio’s Most-Played Songs in History

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Radio’s Most-Played Songs in History

Radio’s Most-Played Songs in History First posted 12/6/2011. Revised 12/30/2014.

These are, according to various sources (see bottom of page), the all-time most-played songs on the radio. These figures generally treat all versions of a song as one entity so in this list the title is listed first and then the artist most associated with the song. For ties, songs are listed in order of how high they rank according to the DMDB. The numbers, in millions, refer to how many plays the song has had at radio regardless of format, genre, demographic, or time slot.

Note: in creating this list, multiple sources were used to try to assure as much accuracy as possible. However, because there are different companies who measure radio airplay and some report that information readily, there are inherent flaws. For example, some assert that Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is the most-played song in history, but it doesn’t make the list because no reference was found for an officially reported number. In addition, the focus here is on radio airplay so songs like “Happy Birthday” which is sung ad infinitum or “It’s a Small World after All” which Time magazine estimates to have been played 50 million times at Disney World (see article here) are not included. Also, this list cuts off at the 5 million mark.

11 million:
“Every Breath You Take” (The Police)
10 million:
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” (The Righteous Brothers, Hall & Oates)
9 million:
“Yesterday” (The Beatles, Ray Charles)
“Baby, I Need Your Loving” (Four Tops, Johnny Rivers)
8 million:
“Brown-Eyed Girl” (Van Morrison)
“Act Naturally” (Buck Owens, The Beatles)
7 million:
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Simon & Garfunkel, Aretha Franklin)
“Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding)
“Stand by Me” (Ben E. King, John Lennon)
“When a Man Loves a Woman” (Percy Sledge, Michael Bolton)
“Your Song” (Elton John)
“Never My Love” (The Association)
6 million:
“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” (The Rolling Stones)
“I Will Always Love You” (Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton)
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, Creedence Clearwater Revival)
“Oh, Pretty Woman” (Roy Orbison, Van Halen)
“Layla” (Derek & the Dominos, Eric Clapton)
“All I Have to Do Is Dream” (The Everly Brothers)
“I Can’t Stop Loving You” (Ray Charles, Don Gibson, Conway Twitty)
“Georgia on My Mind” (Ray Charles, Willie Nelson)
“Mrs. Robinson” (Simon & Garfunkel, The Lemonheads)
“Strangers in the Night” (Frank Sinatra)
“Only You and You Alone” (The Platters)
“Wind Beneath My Wings” (Bette Midler, Gary Morris)
“Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher and Higher” (Jackie Wilson, Rita Coolidge)
“Save the Last Dance for Me” (The Drifters)
“On Broadway” (The Drifters, George Benson)
“Daniel” (Elton John)
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” (Frankie Valli)
“Up, Up and Away” (The Fifth Dimension)
“Twilight Time” (The Platters)
“Oh Girl” (The Chi-Lites, Paul Young)
“Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” (Neil Sedaka)
“Michelle” (The Beatles, The Overlanders)
“How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You” (Marvin Gaye, James Taylor)
“Rhythm of the Rain” (The Cascades, Dan Fogelberg)
“Oh Lonesome Me” (Don Gibson)
5.8 million:
“Working My Way Back to You” (The Four Seasons, The Spinners)
5 million:
“Imagine” (John Lennon)
“Let It Be” (The Beatles, Aretha Franklin)
“The House of the Rising Sun” (The Animals)
“Suspicious Minds” (Elvis Presley, Fine Young Cannibals)
“Proud Mary” (Creedence Clearwater Revival, Ike & Tina Turner)
“Honky Tonk Women” (The Rolling Stones)
“Killing Me Softly with His Song” (Roberta Flack, The Fugees)
“The Sound of Silence” (Simon & Garfunkel)
“Always on My Mind” (Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, Pet Shop Boys)
“You Send Me” (Sam Cooke)
“How Deep Is Your Love” (Bee Gees)
“You’re Still the One” (Shania Twain)
“Dreams” (Fleetwood Mac)
“The Rose” (Bette Midler)
“California Girls” (The Beach Boys, David Lee Roth)
“The Letter” (The Box Tops, Joe Cocker)
“Happy Together” (The Turtles)
“You Can’t Hurry Love” (The Supremes, Phil Collins)
“Something” (The Beatles)
“Cherish” (The Association)
“Up on the Roof” (The Drifters)
“Everybody’s Talkin’” (Harry Nilsson)
“Amazed” (Lonestar)
“Release Me” (Engelbert Humperdinck, Little Esther Phillips)
“By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (Glen Campbell, Isaac Hayes)
“Scarborough Fair” (Simon & Garfunkel)
“Born Free” (Roger Williams)
“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (Elton John, George Michael & Elton John)
“Don’t Stop” (Fleetwood Mac)
“Angel of the Morning” (Merrillee Rush & the Turnabouts, Juice Newton)
“Hooked on a Feeling” (Blue Swede, B.J. Thomas)
“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” (The Police)
“Gentle on My Mind” (Glen Campbell)
“Sometimes When We Touch” (Dan Hill)
“And I Love Her” (The Beatles)
“I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” (England Dan & John Ford Coley)
“Canadian Sunset” (Hugo Winterhalter with Eddie Heywood)
“Sunny” (Bobby Hebb)
“Goin’ Out of My Head” (Little Anthony & The Imperials)
“To Love Somebody” (Bee Gees, Michael Bolton)
“Born on the Bayou” (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
“The Heart of the Matter” (Don Henley)
“Traces” (Classics IV)
“Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” (Casinos, Eddy Arnold)
“More” (Perry Como, Marcello Ciorciolini)

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