billie eilish ifpi

Billie Eilish is going to need to build a new awards cabinet (or, indeed, a new awards annex for her house) soon: her latest trophy is the IFPI’s award for the biggest global single of 2019, awarded to ‘Bad Guy’.

The track notched up 19.5m ‘global converted track equivalents’ last year – a metric that includes audio and video streams as well as download sales, weighting each by “relative value” (i.e. the money generated for rightsholders).

‘Bad Guy’ beat second-placed ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X, with 18.4m converted track equivalents, and third-ranked ‘Señorita’ by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello (16.1m).

Eilish’s track has already won Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards in January, while it was the second most-streamed track on Spotify in 2019 (behind Señorita) – although Eilish’s ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ was the top-streamed album on that service.

“Billie Eilish has taken the world by storm with her incredible voice and genre-defying sound. She is also an artist who addresses important issues like mental health in her lyrics that clearly resonate with her fans all over the world,” said IFPI boss Frances Moore (pictured above presenting Eilish with her latest award).

The full top 10, complete with their converted track equivalents totals, is:

Billie Eilish – Bad Guy (19.5m)
Lil Nas X – Old Town Road (18.4m)
Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello – Señorita (16.1m)
Post Malone and Swae Lee – Sunflower (13.4m)
Ariana Grande – 7 Rings (13.3m)
Tones and I – Dance Monkey (11.4m)
Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber – I Don’t Care (10.3m)
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – Shallow (10.2m)
Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved (9.1m)
Halsey – Without Me (9.1m)

By our reckoning, Universal Music Group accounts for 75% of the top 10, Sony Music for 15% and Warner Music for 10% – we say ‘reckoning’ because some of the geographical and/or licensing details for tracks like ‘Dance Monkey’ and ‘I Don’t Care’ mean it’s not as simple as one label per track.

We’ve also been doing some deeper analysis of the IFPI’s global singles chart stretching back a decade to 2009, the early days of streaming, when Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ ruled the roost with 9.8m track-equivalent sales.

Check this chart we’ve compiled of the collective total track equivalents for the IFPI’s top 10 in each year since 2009:

It represents steady growth from 70.5m units in 2009 to 130.8m units in 2019, bar one outlier. What happened in 2015? Well, that was the year of three monster singles: Wiz Kalifa ft Charlie Puth’s ‘See You Again’ (20.9m units), Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars’s ‘Uptown Funk’ (20m) and Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ (19.5m).

The two biggest singles of the past decade, however, were both in the IFPI’s chart for 2017, when Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ recorded 26.6m track equivalents, ahead of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s ‘Despacito’ (24.3m).

An annual snapshot of the collective units of the world’s 10 biggest singles isn’t the kind of sample size you’d use to make big generalisations about the music industry. That said, it is interesting to note that in the last decade – the period when downloads declined as streaming grew – that collective figure has grown by 85.5%.

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