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Jackson, Journey, Among Top Music Downloads by Decade

4 minute read | August 2009

It wouldn’t be that strange to see Chuck Berry’s “Johnnie B. Goode,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin,’” and Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” on someone’s iPod. Each of these tracks was the top downloaded for its respective decade, according to Nielsen SoundScan data tear-to-date ending July 26, 2009.

The top downloaded track of the past year was Flo Rida’s “Right Round.” It has been downloaded 3.69 million times trailed closely by the Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow” at 3.67 million. Predictably, the tracks recorded in the last decade have been purchased at far greater volumes than those of the decades before.

The most downloaded track from any other decade is Journey’s eighties classic “Don’t Stop Believin’” which was downloaded 711,000 times.

Ironically, the artist that owned the decade, Michael Jackson, didn’t get the top slot. He did however rack up 10 of the top-15 downloads overall. The only non-Jackson songs in the top-10 were Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” (No. 5) and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” (No. 10).

Jackson’s domination continues in the ’70s where four of the top-5 downloads were either his tracks recorded as a solo artist or with Jackson 5. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” was No. 1. Only Queen’s “We Will Rock You” cracked the top-5. Other Queen hits sold strongly including “Bohemian Rhapsody” (No. 8), “We are the Champions” (No. 12) and “Fat Bottomed Girls” (No. 39).

Although the sixties berthed some of the greatest rock track of all time, Etta James’ “At Last” and Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” secured the top two spots. The Rolling Stones had five of the top-15 downloads.

The fifties top three were an eclectic mix of rhythm and blues, country and jazz. Berry’s “Johnnie B. Goode” was No.1 followed by Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.”

Billie Holiday had four of the top-15 tunes downloaded from the forties. “I’ll Be Seeing You” was No. 1. Judy Garland had three within the top-15 lead by “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (No. 11). A cover of the song, recorded by Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, actually ranked higher in the nineties. It was the fourth most downloaded track ahead of Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” (No. 5), Green Day’s “Good Riddance” (No. 6) “Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed (No. 7).

Overall track sales grew to 701 million downloads through July 26 compared to 622 million during the same period the year prior.

Top Downloaded Songs By Decade


  1. Billie Holiday, “I’ll be Seeing You”
  2. Ink Spots, “I Don’t Want to Set the World”
  3. Andrews Sisters, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”
  4. Hank Williams Sr., “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
  5. Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Jordan, “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
  6. Glenn Miller, “In the Mood”
  7. Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, “It Don’t Mean a Thing”
  8. Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”
  9. Bing Crosby, “Swinging on a Star”
  10. Guy Lombardo, “Auld Lang Syne”


  1. Chuck Berry, “Johnny B. Goode”
  2. Johnny Cash, “Folsom Prison Blues”
  3. Dave Brubeck, “Take Five”
  4. Bill Haley & The Comets, “Rock Around the Clock”
  5. Louis Armstrong “La Vie En Rose”
  6. Buddy Holly, “Everyday”
  7. Buddy Holly, “That’ll Be the Day”
  8. Miles Davis, “So What”
  9. Louis Armstrong, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”
  10. Buddy Holly, “Peggy Sue”


  1. Etta James, “At Last”
  2. Louis Armstrong, “What a Wonderful World”
  3. Rolling Stones, “Paint it Black”
  4. Van Morrison, “Brown-Eyed Girl”
  5. Temptations, “My Girl”
  6. Jackson 5, “Who’s Loving You”
  7. Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter”
  8. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
  9. Otis Redding, “Sitting on the Dock on the Bay”
  10. Johnny Cash, “Ring of Fire”


  1. Michael Jackson, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”
  2. Michael Jackson, “Rock with You”
  3. Jackson 5, “I’ll be There”
  4. Jackson 5, “ABC”
  5. Queen, “We Will Rock You”
  6. Jackson 5, “I Want You Back”
  7. Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Sweet Home Alabama”
  8. Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
  9. Eagles, “Hotel Califormia”
  10. Bob Marley & The Wailers, “Three Little Birds”


  1. Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin’”
  2. Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror”
  3. Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean”
  4. Michael Jackson, “Beat It”
  5. Bon Jovi, “Livin’ on a Prayer”
  6. Michael Jackson, “Smooth Criminal”
  7. Michael Jackson, “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
  8. Michael Jackson, “Thriller”
  9. Michael Jackson, “Way You Make Me Feel”
  10. Survivor, “Eye of the Tiger”


  1. Michael Jackson, “Black or White”
  2. 3 Doors Down, “Kryptonite”
  3. Michael Jackson, “Will You be There”
  4. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, “Somewhere of the Rainbow”
  5. Michael Jackson, “Remember the Time”
  6. Green Day, “Good Riddance (Time of Your  Life)
  7. Disturbed, “Down with the Sickness”
  8. Notorious B.I.G., “Hypnotize”
  9. Michael Jackson, “You’re Not Alone”
  10. Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”


  1. Flo rida, “Right Round”
  2. Black Eyed Peas, “Boom Boom Pow”
  3. Lady Gaga, “Poker Face”
  4. The All-American Rejects, “Gives You Hell”
  5. Lady Gaga featuring Colby O’Donis. “Just Dance”
  6. Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em featuring Sammi, “Kiss Me Thru the Phone”
  7. Miley Cyrus, “Climb”
  8. Kanye West, “Heartless”
  9. Kelly Clarkson, “My Life Would Suck Without You”
  10. The Fray, “You Found Me”

Source: The Nielsen Company – SoundScan data year-to-date ending July 26, 2009.

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