“White Christmas” is the best-selling song of all time.
The song had its first public performance on a radio show, sung by Bing Crosby on Christmas Day 1941. It was written by Irving Berlin, for the upcoming movie Holiday Inn. Crosby had not the slightest inkling that the song would practically define him—but did give his (mild) approval: “I don’t think we have any problems with that one, Irving.”
Crosby’s first recording of the song had disappointing sales in its first few weeks, but quickly bounded to the top of the charts. It was an immediate holiday favorite and sold millions of copies. Researchers from the Guinness book of records estimated—as there are no reliable sales figures from back then—that Crosby’s version has sold no less than 50 million copies. The next highest-selling single is Elton John’s Princess Diana tribute “Candle in the Wind 1997,” which has sold 33 million copies.
BONUS FACTOID 01: The third highest single of all time? Selling 30 million copies: “Silent Night,” sung by Bing Crosby