Adele’s power ballad “Hello” sold 480K digital copies in the U.S. in its third week of release. It’s the first song to top 400K in each of its first three weeks since Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997” 18 years ago. Only 12 songs have topped the 400K mark in weekly sales (either physical or digital) two or more times since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking music sales in 1991. Here’s a complete list.
“Candle in the Wind 1997” by Elton John
Elton’s somber tribute to the late Princess Diana topped the 400K mark in each of its first five weeks in October and November 1997. Elton and his lyricist, Bernie Taupin, originally wrote the song about Marilyn Monroe for his 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Taupin adapted the lyric following Diana’s death in a Paris car crash. Elton performed it at her funeral in Westminster Abbey on Sept. 6, 1997. George Martin, who produced the Beatles’ classics, produced the record. The song was coupled with a new song, “Something About the Way You Look Tonight.”
“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. + Pharrell
Thicke’s strutting smash topped 400K in weekly sales four times — for three consecutive weeks in June and July 2013, and for a fourth week in August. The song was heavily influenced by Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up (Pt. 1)” — so much so that Gaye’s heirs prevailed in a lawsuit and Gaye’s name was added to the writing credits. This was the first single from Thicke’s sixth studio album, Blurred Lines.
“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
Houston’s steely version of Dolly Parton’s 1974 ballad topped the 400K mark for three consecutive weeks in December 1992 and January 1993. It later won a Grammy for Record of the Year. This is the only song on this list that wasn’t written or co-written by the lead artist. It’s also the only song on this list by an artist who has passed away. This was the first single from the soundtrack to Houston’s first movie, The Bodyguard.
“Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra
Gotye wrote and produced this quirky song, which topped the 400K mark for three consecutive weeks in April 2012. It later won a Grammy for Record of the Year. The song, which is reminiscent of Sting’s music, samples Luiz Bonfás 1967 song “Seville.” This was the second single from Gotye’s third studio album, Making Mirrors.
“Happy” by Pharrell Williams
This feelgood smash topped the 400K mark for three consecutive weeks in February and March 2014. Williams wrote the song for the movie Despicable Me 2 and later received an Oscar nomination. It’s one of only two songs on this list that were written by just one writer. The other is “I Will Always Love You.” (Gotye shared his songwriting credit with Bonfás.) Williams also co-wrote “Blurred Lines.” This was the first single from Williams’s second solo studio album, G I R L.
“Hello” by Adele
Adele’s striking ballad has topped the 400K mark in each of its first three weeks. This marks the first time that a song by a female artist has done that since (at least) 1991. This is the first single from Adele’s upcoming third studio album, 25, out this Friday.
“Right Round” by Flo Rida
This catchy ditty topped 400K in each of its first two weeks in February 2009. The song samples Dead or Alive’s 1985 hit “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).” The then-little-known Kesha sang the female background vocal. Eleven songwriters are credited on this song. (It’s not easy to make a song sound this simple!) The writers include Bruno Mars and Philip Lawrence, who also co-wrote Mars’s two hits on this list. This is the only song on this list by a hip-hop star in the lead position. (T.I. is featured on “Blurred Lines.”) This was the first single from Flo Rida’s second studio album, R.O.O.T.S.
“Grenade” by Bruno Mars
This smash about a man who really, really needs to move on topped 400K for two weeks running in December 2010 and January 2011. This was the second single from Mars’s debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans.
“Born This Way” by Lady Gaga
Gaga’s LGBT anthem topped 400K in each of its first two weeks in February 2011. The success of this song helped pave the way for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love” and, at least in a small way, Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court case which held that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by the Fourteenth Amendment. This was the first single from Gaga’s second full-length studio album, Born This Way.
“I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift
Swift’s dubstep-tinged smash topped 400K twice — in October 2012, when it debuted, and again in December. This is the only song on this list that didn’t reach #1 on the Hot 100. It peaked at #2 on that chart, behind Bruno Mars’s “Locked Out of Heaven” (which topped 400K only once). This was Swift’s first major hit that didn’t appear on the Hot Country Songs chart. It paved the way for her total break from country with her 1989 album. This was the third single from Swift’s fourth studio album, Red.
“Roar” by Katy Perry
Perry’s motivational smash topped the 400K mark twice, in its debut week in August 2013 and again in its third week in September. Perry’s co-writers include Dr. Luke (who also co-wrote “Right Round”) and Max Martin (who also co-wrote “I Knew You Were Trouble”).“Roar” is this decade’s “Eye of the Tiger,” a song which gets a name-check in the lyric. This was the first single from Perry’s third pop studio album, PRISM.
“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
This sassy smash topped the 400K mark twice, in December 2014 and again in January 2015. The song is a throwback to the Minneapolis sound of the 1980s, typified by Prince and Morris Day & The Time. It also borrows from the Gap Band’s 1980 R&B hit “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops, Up Side Your Head)” — to the degree that the five writers of that song were given co-writing credits on this song. This is the frontrunner to win the Grammy for Record of the Year on Feb. 15. This was the first single from Ronson’s fourth studio album, Uptown Special.