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The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights named world’s most successful single of 2020

By | Published on Wednesday 10 March 2021

The Weeknd

Continuing its drip-feeding of stats in the run-up to the launch of its annual Global Music Report later this month, global record industry trade group the IFPI has announced ‘Blinding Lights’ by The Weeknd as the winner of its 2020 Global Digital Single Award. The track achieved this by being the world’s best performing single of the year across all digital formats.

“‘Blinding Lights’ was undoubtedly one of the year’s biggest record breakers and most loved songs”, says IFPI chief exec Frances Moore. “It caught the attention of music lovers all over the world. We would like to congratulate The Weeknd on his success, and it is an honour to award him this title”.

Just as the IFPI announced the global success of ‘Blinding Lights’, it also hit an impressive milestone in the US. It is the first single ever to spend a full 52 weeks in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. And having also just gone platinum for the seventh time, it is now one of the top ten most certified digital singles of all time as well.

So many accolades and prizes. And yet, let’s not forget, The Weeknd has not one Grammy nomination this year. He, of course, put that down to corruption, when complaining about the snub after the Grammy shortlists were published last year.

Several other artists have joined him in making such claims, with Zayn Malik the latest to do so – yesterday tweeting: “Fuck the Grammys and everyone associated. Unless you shake hands and send gifts, there’s no nomination considerations. Next year I’ll send you a basket of confectionary”.

It’s been widely pointed out that Malik himself only released one track that would have even been eligible for this year’s Grammys – November 2019’s ‘Flames’ – which largely sank without a trace upon release.

However, he later clarified: “My tweet was not personal or about eligibility but was about the need for inclusion and the lack of transparency of the nomination process, and the space that creates and allows favouritism, racism, and networking politics to influence the voting process”.

Anyway, we may have strayed from the point here a little. We were here to talk about stats, right? And didn’t I say that the IFPI was in the process of drip-feeding some lovely stats for us all to enjoy? Well, yes, I did and it is. Last week the trade group named BTS as the most successful recording artist in the world overall in 2020. I wonder how close they came to getting this single track award.

I mean, fair enough, it would be hard for anyone to compete with the success of ‘Blinding Lights’, but surely the K-pop outfit came in at number two in the IFPI’s big 2020 global singles chart?

Actually, no. They just scraped into the top ten with ‘Dynamite’, which scored 1.44 billion fewer “subscription stream equivalents” than The Weeknd’s track. Number two is actually ‘Dance Monkey’ by Tones & I.

The global singles top ten is somewhat more international than the overall recording artist list. After BTS, all nine other artists on that latter chart were North American – three from Canada and six from the US. The singles are slightly more diverse.

Aside from BTS repping South Korea, Tones & I is from Australia and Dua Lipa represents the UK in the middle of the chart. And one possibly unfamiliar name to many reading this is Xiao Zhan, a Chinese artist who comes in at number seven with his single ‘Made To Love’. The track scored huge success in Zhan’s home country, breaking various sales records.

Back to the Americans, and 2019’s number one, Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’, is still in the top ten for 2020, at number nine. Meanwhile, Roddy Ricch gets onto the list twice, first with his own track ‘The Box’, and with his feature on DaBaby’s ‘Rockstar’.

Now, here’s the top ten in full (with subscription stream equivalents in brackets):

1. The Weeknd – Blinding Lights (2.72bn)
2. Tones & I – Dance Monkey (2.34bn)
3. Roddy Ricch – The Box (1.67bn)
4. Saint Jhn – Roses (1.64bn)
5. Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now (1.62bn)
6. Future – Life Is Good (feat Drake) (1.57bn)
7. Xiao Zhan – Made To Love (1.48bn)
8. DaBaby – Rockstar (feat Roddy Ricch) (1.45bn)
9. Billie Eilish – Bad Guy (1.36bn)
10. BTS – Dynamite (1.28bn)

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