Entertainment & Arts

The UK's most-streamed songs may surprise you

Queen, Miley Cyrus and Eminem Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Queen, Miley Cyrus and Eminem were among 2018's most-streamed songs

When it was released in 2010, Foster The People's indie-pop anthem Pumped Up Kicks became a moderate hit, reaching number 18 in the UK charts.

But the LA band's debut single is enjoying a second lease of life on streaming services.

Last year, it was the UK's most-streamed song of all the records released in 2010, beating hits like Lady Gaga's Telephone and Cee-Lo's Forget You, which outsold it at the time.

Pumped Up Kicks was played 21 million times last year, according to the BPI, which has revealed the UK's most-streamed songs based on the year they first came out.

The recording industry body said 90 billion songs were streamed in the UK last year, an increase of 33.5% from 2017.

The data highlighted how songs like Pumped Up Kicks can grow in stature after their release.

AC/DC's Thunderstruck and Miley Cyrus's Party In The USA top the streaming charts for 1990 and 2009 respectively, even though they didn't trouble the top 20 at the time.

"It's a process of songs gathering momentum as time goes on," said Rob Crutchley of the BPI, who compiled the figures.

"A few of those tracks have featured in TV programmes and films, which helps push them over the edge in terms of gaining even more mass popularity, as new audiences become exposed to them."

Queen were notable beneficiaries of this boost in 2018 following the release of the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

Don't Stop Me Now became the most-streamed song from 1978; while Bohemian Rhapsody (the song) was the most-played track from the entire 1970s, overtaking Earth Wind & Fire's September.

The Spinners' Rubberband Man enjoyed a surge in popularity after its use in Avengers: Infinity War, as did Pat Benatar's We Belong, which featured in Deadpool 2.

Even older films can have a halo effect - with Daryl Hall & John Oates' You Make My Dreams becoming 1980's biggest song thanks to its use in the 2009 rom-com 500 Days of Summer.

At the same time, some of pop's biggest artists are missing from the BPI's chart - with no entries for the Beatles, Abba, Madonna or David Bowie.

Most-streamed songs 1990 - 2018
Year Artist Song 2018 streams (million)
2018 Drake God's Plan 147.4
2017 Keala Settle/Greatest Showman cast This Is Me 114.7
2016 Bruno Mars Finesse 54.7
2015 Sia Cheap Thrills 26.5
2014 Ed Sheeran Thinking Out Loud 30.6
2013 George Ezra Budapest 31.3
2012 Passenger Let Her Go 22.5
2011 Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Can't Hold Us 26.3
2010 Foster the People Pumped Up Kicks 21.0
2009 Miley Cyrus Party In The USA 18.0
2008 Jason Mraz I'm Yours 26.9
2007 Arctic Monkeys Fluorescent Adolescent 22.7
2006 The Kooks Naive 26.9
2005 Kanye West ft Jamie Foxx Gold Digger 21.2
2004 Mario Let Me Love You 19.0
2003 The Killers Mr Brightside 46.9
2002 Eminem Lose Yourself 23.6
2001 Nickelback How You Remind Me 11.4
2000 Linkin Park In The End 16.8
1999 TLC No Scrubs 22.6
1998 Goo Goo Dolls Iris 20.1
1997 The Verve Bittersweet Symphony 17.5
1996 Blackstreet ft Dr Dre No Diggity 17.9
1995 Oasis Wonderwall 34.1
1994 Mariah Carey All I Want For Christmas Is You 39.0
1993 The Cranberries Linger 9.7
1992 Radiohead Creep 10.1
1991 Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit 18.6
1990 AC/DC Thunderstruck 12.7

Elsewhere, Christmas songs continued to be popular, with Wham's Last Christmas and Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You scoring huge streaming numbers.

Other tracks simply lingered in people's minds, long after contemporary hits faded.

Naïve by The Kooks has been riding high for the three years we've compiled these statistics," said Crutchley.

"The album it's from sold a lot of copies and they've still got a big, hardcore fanbase - but it's only becoming apparent now what a cult hit that song's turned into.

"And sometimes that's what this is about, I think. Songs can be rediscovered and gain momentum a bit later on."

Crutchley added the availability of once-obscure songs on streaming services could even rescue artists from the dustbin of history.

"Do you remember Maniac by Michael Sembello? It was in the film Flashdance but it never charted in the UK top 40. Now it's getting more than four million streams a year.

"So if you're embedded in history in some little way, there's a chance people will go back and discover your music. You're there for posterity in some ways."

Most-streamed songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s
Year Artist Song 2018 Streams (million)
1989 The Stone Roses Waterfall 8.2
1988 Tracy Chapman Fast Car 14.3
1987 The Pogues ft Kirsty MacColl Fairytale of New York 29.4
1986 Chris Rea Driving Home for Christmas 19.8
1985 Shakin' Stevens Merry Christmas Everyone 21.0
1984 Wham! Last Christmas 34.4
1983 Eurythmics Sweets Dream (Are Made of This) 21.5
1982 Toto Africa 32.1
1981 Journey Don't Stop Believin' 24.3
1980 Daryl Hall & John Oates You Make My Dreams 24.8
1979 Paul McCartney Wonderful Christmas Time 15.9
1978 Queen Don't Stop Me Now 25.4
1977 ELO Mr Blue Sky 26.7
1976 Fleetwood Mac Go Your Own Way 20.1
1975 Queen Bohemian Rhapsody 29.8
1974 Lynyrd Skynyrd Sweet Home Alabama 14.9
1973 Elton John Step Into Christmas 21.6
1972 Stevie Wonder Superstition 19.5
1971 John Denver Take Me Home Country Roads 16.5
1970 Elton John Your Song 12.5
1969 The Jackson 5 I Want You Back 20.4
1968 Otis Redding (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay 11.2
1967 Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell Ain't No Mountain High Enough 18.3
1966 The Rolling Stones Paint It Black 9.9
1965 The Four Tops I Can't Help Myself 8.7
1964 The Temptations My Girl 12.5
1963 Andy Williams It's The Most Wonderful Time 12.3
1962 Sam Cooke Bring It On Home to Me 5.1
1961 Ben E King Stand By Me 16.2
1960 Etta James At Last 6.8

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