Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind, 1997,” which was adapted from his earlier “Candle in the Wind,” about Marilyn Monroe, was the bestselling single recording of all time.
It sold 31.8 million copies worldwide in the weeks after Diana’s death, beating out Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas,” which has sold an estimated 30 million single copies since 1942.
However, this answer doesn’t really tell the whole story.
If you throw in all recordings in all media, Crosby’s song wins, hands down.
After nearly six decades, “White Christmas” continues to be released on Christmas anthology albums and has sold untold millions of copies that way as well.
Like “Candle,” “White Christmas” was wildly popular from its first release.
However, unlike the Elton John song, its appeal has held up over the years.
Crosby even had to go back into the studio with the same band in 1947 to re-record the master because it had been worn out from stamping out millions of 78-rpm records.
The song has been a centerpiece of two movies and has appeared on 78s, 45s, 33s, eight-tracks, cassettes, videos, and CDs, selling copies through the rock ‘n’ roll era to the present.
“Candle, 1997” hasn’t sold many copies since its first release.